July 14th, after 8 weeks of intense training, Andrew successfully completed his course and received orders to Naples, Italy. To say our families were excited about our placement is an understatement. Although we were anxious to get started on our adventure, we had A LOT to do and very little time to prepare for an overseas move with a family of 4.
We said our goodbyes to family and started the long road trip back to Yuma. Our kids did amazing. We drove long distances, stopping as little as possible, and made it back in record time. 30 days to sell both vehicles, organize and de-clutter the house, pack up, get our finances and business in order, and arrive in Italy… whew!!!! It was not a small task.
Believe it or not, getting to the airport for 36 hours of travel with two toddlers actually meant we were through the worst of it all. I had great intentions of photographing our whole journey through the airport. Snapping pics of us dragging in 8 pieces of checked luggage, 4 carry on’s, and two tired toddlers. Saying goodbye to Yuma, which had been such a good home for 4 years. But to be honest, it was just too much work. Man, that trip was exhausting. We flew from Yuma to Phoenix, Phoenix to Chicago, Chicago to Munich, & Munich to Naples arriving over a day and a half after our journey began. The kids did pretty amazing with only a few small threats and bribes to make it through.
Want to know my best tips for flying internationally with toddlers? Well here ya go!
- Limit carry ons! I had all my camera gear with me (because I don’t trust TSA not to destroy or lose it), plus we had an adult carry on with all of our important documents, a change of clothes, toiletries, etc, and two backpacks for the kids with ipads, headphones, snacks, magic wonder coloring books, etc. It was too much!!!! Next time they will get a combined backpack and we’ll scrap the change of clothes. We can go commando or buy new underwear if they lose our luggage.
- Appease the children. Yeah, you… I know you scoffed and rolled your eyes but are you really going to fight with a toddler on an overnight flight as there are 300 other passengers trying to sleep. Give them the fruit snacks and resume regular rules tomorrow. This also meant unlimited screen time. Ipad, head rest tv, cell phone…. whatever the kids wanted, they got. Happy kids are quiet kids and with all i’ve been seeing on youtube lately I didn’t want to be the lady tasered and forced off the plane.
- Melatonin is a godsend. I am no doctor and you should ask your physician before giving anything to your children BUT i’m just saying…one little purple chewable pill and they were out! It was beautiful. Everyone kept complimenting me on how well behaved my children were and I got to have my cocktail in peace.
- During layovers feed them and find a quiet spot to let them play! Some airports even have children’s play areas. Of course we finally found the one in Munich as we were about to board our flight, but it’s such a great way to let them be kids for a little before you have to confine them to a seat for another 10 hours.
- Have a drink. A glass of wine or a beer totally helps you relax a bit and drift to sleep. Moms are habitual worriers. Have one or two and then relax.
- Expect the unexpected. We ran through terminals like something out of Home Alone trying not to miss flights, sat around for hours because of delays, were upgraded to economy plus (there are some perks of being married into the military, lol) and even ran into distant relatives in the airport!!!! Go in with low expectations and know the road will be bumpy. Set yourself up to be surprised instead of disappointed.
Overall, we made it safely and were welcomed with open arms and many happy helpers in Naples. Now to repeat the process again in 18 months. Ugh.