Travelling With 5: Is It Possible?

Well, anything is possible, so they say. I mean, we did it – packed, travelled in the van for hours, flew on 2 flights and made it to our destination. A reminder that my kids are 6, 5, 4, 2 1/2 and 10 weeks, and I had my mom helping me (hubby isn’t with us on this trip). So, is it recommended? NO!! Definitely not! Not if you want to keep your sanity!
But there are times that we need to travel, and it can be really, really challenging. I didn’t have my husband to help me this time (sadly, he doesn’t have the entire summer off as I do!, and my kids are a lot different with him. They listen better, they whine less. I don’t know why, but they do. I have yet to figure that out, and how to make it better! Nevertheless, I did have my mom there to help me. I’m not sure I could have done it without her!
First, the packing begins. I waited until just a few days before departure to get things packed into our suitcases, mainly because we were using the clothes, cloth diapers, and other items that I needed to take with us. During the packing process, the house also had to get cleaned up. Everywhere we turned, there was a mess. When we cleaned one up, another would appear in the next room, and so on and so forth. This makes it very difficult to get any packing done or make any headway on the tidying! Packing on top of all the normal daily things is quite challenging indeed.
Once the packing was done, pretty much the night before we left, I then had to figure out how I was going to fit it all in the van without squishing any kids, driving with my face smashed into the windshield and my knees jammed into the steering wheel, or leaving anyone behind. I ended up using a collapsible roof carrier for a couple of suitcases.
We had our target time to leave the house. I said 9am, or 10am at the latest. We had to travel 10 hours by road in order to get to the airport (we live in an isolated area in the north, making it ridiculous to spend money flying out of our town). So what time did we leave at? 12:30. After gassing up, getting some bottles of water and stopping at the bank to get some cash out? As well as returning home to grab the kids spill-proof cups I had forgotten on the counter? 1pm.
Since I have a newborn, I have to stop to nurse him every so often. And since we have a couple of toddlers and two girls who are 5/6 going on 12/13, there is constant noise from the fighting, bickering, bothering, etc. which makes baby wake up to nurse more often. Add in gas stops, food stops and pit stops for 7 people, and we were up to 16 hours for what should have been a 10 hour trip. Or what USED to be a 10 hour trip, I should say. We made it to the airport JUST in time for our flight. And may I just mention that West Jet is full of the friendliest and most helpful staff of any airline I’ve ever flown with! Not once have I not received excellent service from them, not once have they not gone above and beyond.
The flights and the layover in the Calgary airport were a different story altogether. The car trip was bad enough, but at least the kids were contained. The flights – they were contained, but other people had to listen to the whining and the bickering, the “shhh” and the “stop doing that” etc. But the 3 hour layover at the airport was the most nightmarish of all. They have legs, and boy did they use the. Running around the chairs, running to the bathroom, running to the play areas, running past strangers, running to the kiosks and stores selling anything resembling a toy, running to the restaurants. Two adults, with 4 kids under 7 and a newborn, carrying for everyone and a stroller… Not a good situation! Add in the fact that we had to drive through the night (when we had originally booked a hotel room), so getting zero sleep, so we needed coffees…. We essentially needed about 3 pairs of arms each.
Fast forward through the chaos, we land in Hamilton, collect our bags, and get greeted by my dad and grandparents, who each brought a vehicle to get us and our luggage all back to my parents’ house. THANK GOODNESS.
What I did was think about all of this, and I’ve compiled a list of all the DO’s and DON’T’s when travelling with several children. I will be posting that later this afternoon…. As I’m currently needed in the kitchen! Stay tuned…

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