In my last post I shared we were moving to Germany! Well friends, we’ve made it to Germany and we’re all still alive! If that sounds like an exaggeration, well — it’s not. Ha! I’d like to say it was probably just a typical 24 hour day of travel for the average family with toddlers, but I didn’t quite see any other families sharing our long day experience! (**Shop the adventure supplies at the bottom of this post!)
The Grimstad family started the day around 530 AM when everyone woke up and us parents had to finish gathering every last random article of stuff from the house, do a quick clean of the space (we had to move out that day too!), drop off the remaining food and alcohol rations with friends, and leave one car at our long term parking spot. Then we hit the road towards the airport hardly believing this was all really happening.
First Flight, The Preview..
The highlight of driving to the airport was when 2.5 year old Ava declared she didn’t want to go to Germany and wanted to go back home. Sorry peanut, we explained, we’re all done with our old home and going to our new one. Reuben was excited to get on an airplane!
We arrived at the Wenatchee airport before the employees had, which actually made for a good start. I’d rather be early this entire trip than late! When it was open, we towed the kids on their little travel suitcases through security. It was actually nice to have a designated spot for them to focus on while we waited. Ava handled security well, Reuben went limp noodle and had to be carried through (foreshadowing for the rest of the trip??). Fortunately, none of the securities we passed that day viewed the children as much of a threat (however they failed to consider threat to adult sanity…)
Once aboard the plane Reuben went into hyper active mode engaging in touching and loosing seatbelts, trays, and window shutters… He was quickly subdued with his new headphones and tablet and didn’t even react to the plane taking off. (Surviving was our only plan for this trip friends. Surviving, deep breaths, deodorant, and the free alcohol on the long flight.)
Seattle Dash with Kiki
45 minutes later we landed in Seattle and had less than an hour to cross the length of the airport, take a few escalators down, a train underground, a few escalators up, and get to our next gate. A random, wonderful surprise was my mom meeting us at our gate after arriving from her own flight into SeaTac! She took Reuben, Michael manned a few suitcases, stroller, and laptop bag, and I pulled Ava on her own suitcase as far as I could. (It really is stinking adorable to see them ride those suitcases!)
We made it to the next gate and gave my mom a hurried hug and kiss goodbye before dashing into the children’s line outside of the gangway. I wasn’t ready to allow emotion other than frantic survival take hold quite yet, so still no tears were shed. It wasn’t until we were in our seats on the plane, used the restroom, changed a diaper, plugged the children into the TV monitor, that I called my best friend to say that we made it and were actually going to make this Germany thing happen that I lost control. For Pete’s sake I don’t even see her more than 3 times a year anyways(!!), but the distance and realness finally made an impression on me!
Didn’t Think of That Moments
If you haven’t gathered already, this post isn’t a post of “What to do when you fly across the Atlantic with children.” No, no, it’s a documentation of how we survived and lived to tell the tale! So here are a few things I didn’t anticipate.
- The time between meals is long and there are no snacks provided. I did NOT bring enough food to keep everyone happy. Huge mistake. I should have taken half the activities out of my bag and replaced them with snacks of better variety. I also should have packed full lunches for the trip as we had no time for lunch in the airport between flights and were starving by takeoff.
- The lights go out very soon on transatlantic flights. Our flight departed around 2pm and in a little more than an hour, after the dinner service, the cabin lights were off and the blinds up. This made it difficult to do the other activities I brought for the kids.
- Apparently we chose the first middle row after business class and of four seats only allowed the middle arm rest was able to rise. The end chairs had irremovable, solid metal divider arm rests containing the dining trays. This was a huge bummer because we could let the kids lay across our laps. It appeared the rows of four behind us had moveable arm rests. Next time we’d rather get two pairs of seats on the sides to split up the kids and have easier sleeping spots.
- The airplane kid’s television shows were only one episode long, not a season. This caused a bit of frustration for the kids because the TV show was always done in 20 minutes… The movie selection for their age was scarce as well. It’s a good thing we loaded up a tablet and old iPhone with Disney+ shows, Amazon Prime shows, and PBS kids games.
Michael semi attempted to take a nap and maybe got to finish a movie or so. I didn’t get either with my hyper attentiveness the needs of the kids. Ava was so exhausted and after tears, crying, moaning– basically all the sounds you never want to deal with or hear on an airplane, she fell asleep around 9pm for an hour on my lap. Luckily, the flight was smooth and I was never asked to put her in her seat by flight attendants. Reuben fell asleep literally as we were descending to the tarmac in Franfurt. After TEN HOURS of possible sleep. The shock to his system of being woken up after a 20 minute nap, at midnight his body time, put him into a sort of horrid, traumatic shock. It was a scarring scene trying to get him into a stroller and across the airport to passport control for our last flight.
The last flight, the final horrors:
After the shock had worn off, Reuben and Ava happily played, walked, and snacked in the Frankfurt airport before our last flight to Hamburg. Germany has family only passport and security that was relaxed and empty and everyone was so kind to us as we unloaded our belongings to be scanned. It was entirely painless and we’re thankful for that because the last flight was perhaps the most horrific of the trip.
As we were taxiing to the runway for takeoff, Reuben had a BM (he was in a pullup) and lost his mind trying to get out of his seat to a bathroom, which was not allowed. By some miracle of God we were able to frantically talk him down and back into his seatbelt right before takeoff. Ooooh the looks we were getting. One lady kept winking which was probably the nicest thing someone could do at the moment. The poor kid was so exhausted that the takeoff pressure instantly put him (and Ava) to sleep. Unfortunately for all of us we had to clean him up at altitude and he never went back to sleep. By the end of the 50 minute flight he was almost manic with lack of sleep and I had to restrain him until Michael took him off the plane to find our stroller. Ava slept until I unloaded her with the last of the passengers.
We Made it and May Never Leave Again..
90 minutes later we had miraculously loaded all of our things into our rental car and strapped a strongly resisting Reuben into his rented car-seat (after which he instantly passed out). Michael and I were in PTSD, shock, and scarred for life mode. I could hardly appreciate we were in a European country I had never been to before. I reeked of sleepless, sweaty travel, and I never wanted to get on a plane with children again. Michael said we’d fly back when they’re teenagers and I couldn’t agree more. We just needed to get to the house and unload.
Our New Home in Hamburg, Germany.
We arrived to our home on a Monday afternoon with the kind welcoming of our upstairs landlord family. Reuben was laid down, still in his coma into his new bed and we toured our gorgeous new home. Evonne had placed fresh tulips on the table and in the bathroom! Little furnishing had been moved to accommodate the children and us and everything was just perfect. It’s such a wonderful place for us. After such a long day I knew we had made it to where we wanted to be!
I will conclude our travel day there and update you on the rest of the week in another post!
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- Kid’s carryon suitcases
- Compact double stroller
- Leak proof kid travel water bottles (REALLY DONT LEAK!!!)
- Reusable sticker books
- Kid’s headphones
- Kindle Fire Tablet
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- Softest shirt of my life