Thursday, March 6, 2014

Planning for Luxembourg

We might be crazy. Seriously crazy, because we've decided to travel to Europe with a 4 year. Oh, and it's her first flight. Ever. We thought about getting in a quick flight to Chicago or somewhere for a long weekend trip and to introduce Riley to the flight process, but it didn't happen. So here we are planning for our first big trip with Riley in May.

Random excited picture of Riley.

We were actually going to go to Luxembourg last September, but then decided to move Riley from an in-home daycare to preschool and thought that might be a bad idea - adding too many new things at once. You might wonder why we are so set on traveling to Europe with a preschooler. Well, my husband's brother and his family moved there almost 2 years ago. It seems like the perfect excuse to go over there and yet I've worried that maybe we should wait until Riley is a little older for her to really appreciate it. However, I think she will do fine, even if I am freaking out a little about how the actual travel will go and how the time change will impact us (especially Riley).

The first thing we did to make this vacation seem real is to apply for Riley's passport. Jesse and I are good (at least for a few more years) with our passports, but Riley certainly needed one. I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the things on my plate so I asked Jesse to take on the passport stuff. I had started it, but things had changed since I first started doing my research so I am glad he took this project on. DMV's no longer do this so you have to go to city hall or the post office and both parents have to be there. We had to make an appointment which worked out well because we were in and out really fast. Riley did great with posing for her picture and even though I had to re-fill out the paperwork because Jesse used blue ink instead of black it still went really fast. However, we just got a letter that her passport picture was overexposed and we would need to send in a new one. Especially irritating since we paid $40 at City Hall to have them take it. So now we have to find some time to go back and have them retake it. Annoying.

Then we bought our tickets which really sealed the deal. When we walked out of city hall after applying for Riley's passport Riley was ready to get on the plane to see her cousins, but getting some dates for our trip was helpful in creating a timeline for her. We showed her on a calendar so she would have a better idea of when we left, but what really helped her was explaining it in terms of the weather change. We told her the snow would have to melt that the grass would start to grow... although in MN we could have a snow storm in May so who knows. But she gets the concept so that's what matters.

Next up is planning. Since we have peeps who live there they have the inside scoop on what to check it. Even so we decided to order a Lonely Planet guide. I know everything is accessible on the internet these days, but there is something about having one of these guides that adds to the excitement of a trip. Plus, everything is organized right there for you. We do have some wish list items such as checking out a castle, maybe going to Brussels or Paris, or even someplace in Germany, a wine tasting tour, and maybe a date night with the hubby. A date night would be awesome. There are also a fair amount of cool interactive parks in the Luxembourg area that will be great to bring Riley too.

It's nice that we have a place to stay and don't have to worry about that, but we need to think about things like "what car seat is required in Luxembourg"? Also, Riley can often skip her nap so that will make planning a little easier, but I don't think she will handle 10 days without a nap and a significant time change all that great so we will have to deal with that adjustment.

Speaking of sleep, our flight leaves at 7:30ish PM. I thought this was great as I hoped that meant Riley would sleep for most of the flight. And then I remembered that I don't sleep well on flights at all. Years ago when I flew to Milan I decided that I would sleep 1 hour the night before I left and then hoped to sleep on my flight and that this would all help me feel right with the time change once there. Yeah, that didn't work - especially since I was on three different flights. My last leg was the longest and I got a little sleep, but certainly not enough (also: I woke from that slight nap with a bunch of drool running down my chin. I'm sure the hot Italian guy sitting next to me thought that was charming). There are no direct flights to Luxembourg so we will be making a stop (around 3 AM our time) in Amsterdam for two and a half hours before the last 1 hour flight to our destination.

Anyhoo, I have a number of thoughts on how to make this flight and time change more bearable, but would love to hear from other parents who have traveled with their kids... even if it wasn't international travel. We have an iPad, books, coloring stuff, games, snacks etc. My husband has the PSP Vita that should keep him somewhat occupied. I sort of wish we had a laptop too, but I can't justify buying one just for this trip. We do have a portable DVD player, but it only stays charged for 1.5 hours so I'm not sure it's worth lugging with us.

I know every kid is different, but what has worked for you when traveling? What are must have/do items that I just can't forget? Also, if you've been to Luxembourg any places that you would recommend checking out?

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