When I scoured the internet trying to look for advice on travelling with 3 children under eight, I was met with so many pieces on different ways to manage. Honestly, I didn’t want to manage, I wanted to do it meticulously without snapping at someone or wringing Morgan (my middle son) by the neck. Still nothing…
And I’m not here to give you that either. I’m here to share how I managed and coped and got everyone to France and back in one piece. Not only that, but I had to ensure my sanity throughout the whole process.
Finances & Traveling
The main question I get asked quite a lot about on social media when I share about our overseas trips as a family is finances. I do feel this is threading more on the private matters of my family, but I do want to also address and share that what you as a family plan and prioritise, is what will come to fruition. We have set certain goals for our family and work towards them tirelessly, whilst sacrificing other things, to make them happen. So that’s that on that.
Back to vacationing with minions
I honestly wouldn’t be able to do it all with assistance to be quite honest. My mom in-law is always on hand to assist and be a helping hand. And this time around we also took Marorisang with us. So, it was 4 adults to 3 children, and we still felt stressed and stretched. We had an incident at Dubai airport where Mikaili just disappeared as we were supposed to board our connecting flight. My gosh! I was convinced we were going to miss the flight and we all went into panic mode. We all split into different directions looking for Mikaili whilst still trying to manage and keep an eye on Malik and Morgan. Our Marhaba Lounge Services hostess found him all breezy and calmly walking out of the bathroom as he ‘needed to make a wee-wee’.
The worst thing honestly that has ever happened to me whilst travelling with children was Malik releasing the pooplosion (poop explosion) on a flight from Dubai. That thing went all the way up his back, and it happened during take-off. I was really in a stiff about this situation as two things were certain, during take-off he used gas to clear his ears – awesome! No whining and crying baby due to the altitude’s effect on the ears. BUT now I had to wait for the seatbelt sign to go off before handling the mess in my arms. And being the overzealous and always ‘just in case’ mom I am, I thankfully had an extra set of clothing for him.
Always carry an extra pair of clothing
This is the one tip that I have never forgotten and shall never forget. Always pack an extra set of clothing for all children for long flights. Morgan for instance opened up a juice “with all the supersonic strength he had” in order to show Mikaili he was stronger and got juice on himself whilst sending his tray table, with this tea, flying all over himself and the poor lady sitting next to him. So, changes on flight had to be made. Their clothing is usually packed in their JetKids Box or a carry on backpack.
Another thing I try do is keep the family, especially the boys, seated in places where they cannot bother other passengers on the flight. This sometimes doesn’t quite work out as it seems as soon as check-in becomes available, people always seem to quickly book the window seats and then we sort of have to make to make do with keeping the family together but someone sitting in the same row. I feel sorry for these people sometimes and as soon as we board, I warn them. I’m then sitting there apologising every other hour on an 8-hour flight.
Me, the self-acclaimed master packer
I’m quite the meticulous packer and I’ve mentioned before in one of my posts on my blog the order in which I pack, but I ensure we are packed and ready way before departure day. I do this because I want to ensure that the clothing I want to pack isn’t worn before the trip and we incur unnecessary expenses on the trip buying clothing. The clothing purchases are always nice to haves or emergency unforeseen circumstances, like this time around… Mikaili and Morgan ran out of clothing because on the one day they went through about 3 items of clothing in one day, to my annoyance.
Itinerary planning when traveling with children is extremely important. These guys get bored so easily. In order to mitigate that, fill up the diary from breakfast to dinner.
The annoying part about traveling to France in the Summer was the time the sun set. Imagine you go and plan a whole itinerary with kids that don’t mind sleeping for 4 hours and being up early, convincing them that tomorrow’s going to be a long day and that they need to sleep and then the sun has the audacity to set after 9pm.
We booked at Mode apartments that are hotel rooms with apartment perks such as a stove, microwave, sink, coffee machine, fridge etc. all at our disposal. We stocked up our fridges and this came in handy on the day my mom in-law didn’t feel like going out. She stayed in and watched some TV in French whilst we took the boys out for walks about the city, lunch catch ups and some shopping. Kind of like living Parisian… except not quite. Okay, I’ll stop getting ahead of myself.
One of our favourite visits and highlights of our trip was most definitely the visit to La Villette Park in Paris (Parc de la Villette) as well as the City of Science and Industry Museum (Cite des Sciences et de l’indutrie). This is a park-like vibe of outdoor and indoor activity. Inside the building there are several sections and an aquarium. There’s a part of it called Cité des Enfants (for 2-7 years and 5-12 years) with the sole purpose to feed into and arouse the curiosity and prepare for the future learning of children and I also think to make practical some of the classroom learning. Think science museum on steroids. So, through fun and varied experiences, children and teenagers discover the intriguing secrets of science as well as figure out the world of science and technology. This is a must for any parent traveling to Paris with their little ones.
Moving Around Paris
We took the commute to the park by train and it was a pretty nifty experience of manoeuvring the underground rail system. So, to make your life simple, you search your destination in Google maps. You select the train option, and it give you the station you stop at then switch trains. Quite seamless and the trips worked out at a fraction of the Uber prices. The stations aren’t very pram friendly though (makes me wonder how wheel chair bound people get to commute around the city with ease). But because I have a very travel friendly pram that folders into such a sweet and lovely size (The Yoyo Stroller – even fits into the overhead compartment of planes), we managed with ease. My mom in-law was extremely fascinated by the efficiency of the system. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that we were traveling with kids, that would be my preferred mode of transport.
We moved hotels to be closer to Disney and stayed at the Radisson Blu in the Disney Land precinct. I had scouted out some of the hotels that had the full themes incorporated into them and some fun slides and pool areas for kids, but the reviews kept sending me back to what I trust, Radisson Blu. I just love comfort and being sure I’m getting what I pay for, especially being in a foreign land. I don’t want to go back and forth about service at a hotel. And seeing as it was peak season, I think I wanted to go with what I trusted. Our stay was good and the commutes to and from Disney pretty swift. The bus to and from Disney is every thirty minutes from the hotel lobby and tickets to the park are available from reception – bonus. No need to be queueing at the park to get in and trust me those queues can be long.
The tickets include all the rides, which are about a thirty minute to an hour wait at a time. So, prepare yourself to be at Disney ALL DAY. Actually, you should be at Disney all day as we were on the first day because the real bad ass magic was the 11pm Disney Illumination Show! Magical! Even the adult me was in awe and almost brought to childhood tears, as was the little girl who was standing right in front of me. The little lady was wiping tears and singing along to “Let it Go” and most of the Disney classics. The feels!
We rushed out straight after to ensure we made it back to the stop, to find the first bus back after the show as the buses do get quite packed and the last trip ends at 12.15am.
We did day two at Disney but this time, we did the Studio side, it was drizzly but bearable. We weren’t soaked or anything, it was fun. We went on the more ‘adult’ rides that the kids could also get onto. This was fun and trilling for them and of course my parenting duty is to also make it seem as though it was as equally frightening and thrilling for me.
Making Peace with Seeing the World Through Pure Eyes
We ate tons of pizza and pasta. We Let them take lots of pictures. We took lots of pictures and selfies. We had so many magical moments that can’t be put into words. But best of all we created memories.
I think experiencing Paris in this was so beautiful. We allowed our children to sort of cue on the experiences and to get their own vibe of the city. We’d obviously love to return to Paris on day again to do museums and the other touristy stuff, but I doubt they would appreciate that right now. They saw the Eiffel Tower that they’ve been reading about for ages at school and their reactions were “Oh, that’s it?!”
I was annoyed.
But also understood that they aren’t going to appreciate the art of architecture and engineering right now, so it’s okay.