So after being in airports for three days connecting to free wi-fi intermittently now I can actually sit down and try to organize my thoughts a bit. I have written a few previous posts about our big family trip to Croatia (these can be found under the travel/adventure tab) and we finally made it. A friend of mine commented after hearing about our mishaps that if someone had told me that all of these things would have happened I probably wouldn’t have gone. That got me thinking.
That may have been true before, but here’s where this experience has changed my thinking. We made it. It did take three days and some extra trouble but we made it. Best thing is I learned some very important things about my family.
The main thing is that my kids are awesome! They slept in places I wouldn’t have dreamed them EVER being able to. They didn’t complain. I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t know any better, they didn’t have any preconceived ideas about the trip or because they are young. But they just rolled along with it. The treat bag I had packed came in handy. The little strawberry shortcake dolls were a hit! We also had mini color books, pens and stickers. My girls did get a new stuffed animal in Vienna, but mostly I was amazed at the made up games they played in the airport. They were bears hiding in between the seats in a cave, they sat in the airport chairs playing beauty parlor and they played mermaid tag (similar to duck duck goose). I was ready to tell any evil eye givers that they’d been in an airport for just under 6 hours with no such luck. Nothing but smiles around us. 🙂 My tip, let them be kids. Give treats, make it a special occasion. Tell them how awesome they are and that they are true travelers. Let them know you are proud of them. Let them explore the airport with you. Play I spy, tell stories, play cards. Take time to get to know them better during the time you are stranded. Make it worth while. I wouldn’t trade it now for anything.
We worked together as a family. I do have to say that if my husband wasn’t as calm a personality as he is then I may have been more likely to freak out and not give the situation a chance and thrown in the towel then and there. Also since being stuck in Paris wouldn’t be half bad (where we missed our connecting flight). Nothing fazes this guy, I mean seriously! He just takes things as they come. Pretty amazing actually. Some of you may be like that as well. But I am not. If there is a freak out allowed to happen (meaning my kids aren’t present to witness semi bad behavior) I am likely to be the one to do it. I am learning that if I take these type of situations one small step at a time then the problem doesn’t seem as horrendous. Plus I got to eat some French food, in France, yum!! It was in the airport but I swear the Quiche was the best I have ever eaten. My daughter was sad we couldn’t make a quick trip to the Eiffel Tower, but our 11 hour mostly middle of the night stay and 6am flight time didn’t allow for that. We have made a family plan to go back ASAP. My tip, be like my husband if you can. Model calm behavior and your kids or significant other will follow. Take it one small step at a time. It will work out.
As for our lost bag…We have found some tips for recovering lost luggage. We are hoping to get our bag tonight. Some tips are from the blog foxnomad.com’s post How to Prevent, Track and Recover Lost Luggage. He suggests taking a picture of your bag so you can accurately describe it to the airport lost and found. He also suggest pictures of what you pack so that if your bag isn’t recovered you have pictures to submit with your claim to insurance. We have a pic of the outside, but not the contents. We will do this next time!! Do not pack electronics such as iPad because they have a high likelihood of being stolen. Our big tip, Do not take I don’t know as an answer!! We heard that so many times in the last 3 days that we were feeling extremely frustrated. Waiting is the worst. Finally we thought to just work our way back calling all the airports and airlines we had been on to see if someone could give us some information. Both our flights on Croatian Air had no idea where our bag was. Our stop before that was Vienna on Austrian Air. My husband called the airline first and got an automated message, so he called the actual Vienna International Airport Lost and Found and got a real live clerk! This man was able to find out that our bag was in fact still in Vienna and he was able to tag it urgent and get it on the next flight to Zagreb with a connecting flight to Zadar. My husband will be at the airport in Zadar at 10pm to get our bag!! (If all goes to plan). If we hadn’t gotten any answers from Vienna our next calls would have been to Paris and then to our starting point of Seattle.
Another learning point for me was about Jet Lag. It didn’t manifest in ways I thought it would. For some reason I thought we’d just be tired at the wrong times. Naïve me. Having only traveled internationally with just my husband pre kids I had been able to just sleep if needed and force myself to stay awake. I hadn’t thought I’d rally experienced Jet Lag. This trip proved much different. I was exhausted, foggy and giddy at random times not just times related to my home time zone. My kids would just fall asleep at random times. My oldest literally while eating dinner last night. Just out cold pizza on her fork. My little one fell asleep at her normal nap time in the afternoon but would have slept for hours if we hadn’t tried to wake her. Trying to do that was heartbreaking. She just kept saying I need to sleep. It had hit her. Both of them were just goofy giggly messes most of the time. There silliness and random story tellings were hilarious. They kept our spirits up for sure. We are back on a pretty good schedule with my oldest sleeping through the night and the little one waking the last two nights at 3am being hungry. after eating some small snack she goes right back to sleep. We’ll see how tonight goes. My husband and I feel pretty good today after having more of a set schedule.
This taught me that as much as I plan and have my ‘ideas’ about how anything should go I need to understand nothing is set in stone. There is room for change and even if it doesn’t go as I thought that doesn’t mean it is a failure. I am actually glad our trip went as it did. I am even more likely to take my girls all over the world now knowing that they (and we) can handle most issues we encounter!!
Don’t let the ‘what if’s’ stop you from going where you wish to! You’ll miss the beauty this world has to offer! Happy Traveling!