The boarding madness

by Mandy Giles

This story is part of our 'Travelling with Kids' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition.

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I just love the anticipation of going on holiday when there are children involved; a type of Christmas experience where preparation is everything, the unknown is exciting and the magic that going on holiday brings to small people is very satisfying to watch.

Preparation can be stressful in terms of ‘have I packed the right things for everyone?’ and ‘how much do the cases weigh?’ As a family we seem to travel ‘heavy’ and my husband always waits uneasily by the check-in desk anticipating a ‘Heavy’ tag to be attached to our suitcases yet again, hoping that excess baggage is not the order of the day.

Not that I was ever a Girl Guide, but ‘be prepared’ is my motto and that means lots of ‘just in case, you never know’ clothes as well as including everything you need for travelling with children! The secret is to weigh the cases at home before getting to the airport, without breaking the bathroom scales that is!

Our daughter always wants to take her pink pull along case as hand luggage which is packed brimful of toys and incidentals and I am told there is absolutely, definitely no space for anything remotely practical. Days on end are spent preparing this case, the contents forever changing depending on the ‘flavour of the day’ items. Finally the zip has to be closed, I am anxiously weighing the hand luggage and ‘Oh no, it’s too heavy, something has to go!’ Decisions, decisions, who are the lucky chosen few to come on holiday this time?

Having checked in at the airport, it’s time to run the gauntlet through security and board the plane. It’s busy, frantic in fact. A little boy in front is jumping up and down on his seat and trying to pull the in-flight magazine out of the pocket, while his mother tries desperately to settle the baby on her lap who persists in screaming and stiffly arching her body in protest at being asked to stay put. His father meanwhile is trying to squeeze bags into an impossibly small space in an overhead locker and eventually rejoins his family looking very flustered and rather hot with a look that says ‘I think I’d rather be at work!’ Then the familiar ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ can be heard and the plane hasn’t even left the runway yet!

As the baby in front continues to cry for most of the flight, one feels that moment of desperation that we have all felt as parents at some time in our lives when the eyes of all those travelling without children appear to be bearing down on you wondering why you cannot stop your child from making this terrible din; all you want is to do is disappear into oblivion.

I have to say though, memories of these awkward moments soon disappear when you are in the sun, seeing the smiles on tiny faces having an absolute ball and enjoying being on holiday!

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