Author: Michelle Galvez
As I write this month's column, my three children are reading, playing a video game, and watching the sun set over the left wing at 36,000 feet. We're flying to South America for spring break on our latest adventure.
Traveling with children is always an adventure but with the other parent often away on military business, it can be a bit of a challenge too. The kids and I have taken cross-country road trips, spent vacations in beach houses, flown to Disney World and gone on ski trips without my husband, but this is the first time we've ventured to another continent solo.
Thankfully, the reality of three kids, four suitcases, four backpacks, six flights, two trains and several buses didn't truly set in until the night before our departure or I might have chickened out this time.
I've been avoiding that reality by channeling my inner Girl Scout and having preparation tunnel vision. For months I've been packing, reserving, researching and saving for our trip to Machu Picchu.
We even took advantage of the travel clinic at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, a free service for TRICARE beneficiaries, where we got a comprehensive brief on how to stay healthy where we're going. We got pills to combat the effects of the high altitude and antibiotics if the traveler's stomach bug attacked. Our shot records were checked and we bared our upper arms for the necessary vaccinations. My kids began to realize there would be a bit more to this particular trip than Mickey.
The last few days of school the children have been wearing the dregs of their drawers because most of their wardrobe was already packed. I even bought the kids new underwear rather than extract something from the suitcases and have to do last minute laundry and repacking.
I also managed to remember the passports this time. Last summer we went to upstate New York and had gotten passports especially for a foray into Canada but about 8 hours into the road trip realized I'd forgotten them in Virginia Beach. Thankfully my dog-sitting military spouse neighbor found and Fedex'd our passports so the trip could continue as planned.
I was briefing the kids at dinner the other night, running through the various steps of our journey, when my teenager rolled her eyes and asked me if I even listen to myself when I talk. Apparently I had made it sound like a carefully executed military evolution as opposed to family fun. But in this career military family, the two sure seem eerily similar sometimes.
In the meantime, each child has their own snacks, blanket, neck pillow, busy work, we're practicing our Spanish and the drinks cart is coming through the cabin. Buen viaje!
Michelle Galvez is a Navy spouse, mother, graduate student and government contractor who writes in her spare time. Email her your travel tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Tidewater Parent Magazine