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The Ups and Downs of Traveling With a Five Year Old

A couple of months ago, I decided to book a trip. Now that Dexter is in school, I have come to the realization that the rest of our lives are going to be ruled by school days. No more impromptu Tuesday morning treks to the mountains. No more being able to plan a vacation in February to get the best deals. And now that Chester is two years old (!!!!), we’re now obligated to buy him his own plane ticket, meaning we now have FIVE people to buy for. So Mark and I have had to start planning for more solo/split trips to keep costs down.

One of the things that I’ve been wanting to do since Dexter was born was bring the kids back to Pennsylvania for Halloween. My dad is the biggest Halloween nut in the world, and he’s been begging us to let him take the boys trick-or-treating since Dexter was born. Unfortunately, with us living first in England, then Florida, then Utah, it’s not been the easiest thing to make happen. And, as I mentioned, with Dexter starting Kindergarten, this is pretty much the last opportunity for him to take time out and go.

So I thought it would be fun to take a little trip, just me and Dex, and surprise my dad for Halloween. Dex was SUPER excited, which was a big benefit of the plan. And I knew my dad (who normally doesn’t enjoy surprises) would be over the moon. I planned it out with my mom, and we set the dates of travel.

This past Tuesday, we were up early, packed and ready to go with only a little bit of stress on my part. It was a bit of a crazy situation, actually. I’d already booked childcare for Chester and Daniel with our regular home daycare lady. Though she was heavily pregnant, she wasn’t due until mid-November, so we figured all would be fine. But wouldn’t you know, she went and had herself a baby a few weeks early – two days before our trip! As such, Mark was sent scrambling around for last minute care.

With all that taken care of, Dexter and I set out on our first adventure together. It wasn’t until we were on our way that I suddenly realized that not only was this the LONGEST that Mark and I will have EVER been apart from one another, but it was the first time that my kids have EVER been apart. They have literally never spent a night away from each other since each of them was born! I’ll tell you now that mom panic for sure set in, as I imagined all sorts of scenarios where they couldn’t live without one another. But it’s now been four days, and they are doing just fine. That’s more than I can say for their mama!

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

The fun all started at the airport. Dex was doing well. He carried around his little R2D2 suitcase and got a lot of compliments on it. We indulged in Starbucks coffee (for me) and a chocolate muffin with chocolate milk (for him). He mentioned that his milk felt warm, but I brushed it off as I was trying to navigate the crowds. We boarded the first flight, taking off from Salt Lake City to Chicago.

During the flight, he mentioned once that his tummy was hurting, but after a trip to the potty (actually THREE trips to the potty… grr), he was fine. We made it to Chicago, where I got to see QUITE a few Cubs jerseys. City pride was REALLY high, given that they’ve made the World Series for the first time in a LOT of years. Dexter asked why everyone was dressed the same, and he didn’t understand when I explained. But he thought they all “looked very pretty.”

I had a pretty bad headache by this time, so I stopped at a store in the airport and bought some Advil. I also got us a couple of sodas and some popcorn, as kiddo was hungry. We ate our popcorn at the gate, and Dex happily sipped his orange soda.

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

Once on our second flight, Dex was getting antsy, wondering how much longer we had to go. I explained that the second flight was much shorter than the first, but that we’d then have to get in grandma’s car for another couple of hours driving. He complained again about a sore tummy, and after another trip to the potty, he was okay.

We flew in a little puddlejumper (an ERJ) airplane over the beautiful Lake Erie and into the tiny Erie International Airport. He ran around, excitedly looking for his grandma. She met us just outside security, having been over an hour early (as usual). We had to wait a while for my bag to come through, but then we were in the car headed home.

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

The beautiful view from the plane of Lake Erie

As we drive, Dex kept complaining that his tummy hurt, but he said it was because his seatbelt was too tight. We kept reassuring him that we’d be home soon. We stopped at Dairy Queen five minutes from my mom’s house to grab some fast food and then kept going. Dex happily played on his Kindle before saying, “Mommy? How much longer? My tummy REALLY hurts!” Before I could answer, he started vomiting a lovely orange slurry all over his lap, his tablet and my mom’s car. Ugh.

My mother was completely unfazed, though I was gulping in fresh air from the window like my life depended on it. I don’t do well with vomit. We didn’t bother stopping since we were only about two minutes from home. Dex just kind of sat there trying not to move. We’d spent a ton of time trying to figure out the best way to smuggle us into the house to surprise my dad without him seeing us. But after the vomiting, my mom just had to call him and ask him to come out to the car.

SURPRISE! Here’s a vomit-covered kid!

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

Nailed it!

Anyway, after getting the vomit cleaned up, Dex was absolutely fine and in great spirits. He spent the couple of hours after we arrived jumping around like a kangaroo and telling his grandparents how excited he was to be here.

He’s having a ball and getting spoiled. My dad took him out to Tractor Supply and bought him some new overalls, a jacket, some boots and flannel shirts to help him look the part of a small town kid. Dexter was thrilled, as now he matches his “PawPaw.”

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

He’s been especially and unusually clingy since we got here, which is really strange. He wants to be on my lap or holding me at ALL times, and he is over the moon to be able to share a bed with me, snuggling up close to me all night long. Though he has to contend with the dog who can’t seem to keep his paws off me either.

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

I’m excited to see my folks and experience a very beautiful autumn in Pennsylvania. We’re looking forward to Trick or Treating on Monday, and Dex has got a new Iron Man costume for the occasion. He also has new SpiderMan pajamas. And Maw (his name for grandma) has even let him make his own ice cream and lick the beaters!

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

I sure do love my tiny home town. It’s got no sidewalks, no streetlights, and there’s not a lot (or anything!) going on, but it’s my home. I miss my other kiddos so much, and I feel a LOT of guilt for separating them all, but it’s lovely to be able to do this once in a while.

But I love getting time with my mama. And it’s fun to head over to my little brother’s bar and spend some time with him.

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

And although I always seem to suffer from sinus issues when I come here, I am still super happy to have made the trip.

The Ups and Downs of Traveling with Children

Would you ever travel without some of your kids? Do you still visit your childhood home?

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