This month, my little family is on the trip of a lifetime: three weeks in Europe!
We’ve been looking for a way to use Elliott’s extra vacation time, and so in January we started looking at airline tickets. Elliott found a phenomenal deal to Europe on Norwegian Airlines. For less than $1100, he purchased roundtrip tickets between LA and Europe for our entire family! We jumped on the flights, and now, in early April, here we are in the U.K.
The days are flying by, and I want to record them in real time if I can. I share a few photos a day on Instagram, but I don’t want to post too much on there. Besides, there is so much more to record and remember!
Right before we left, our dear friends came to stay in our house and take care of our pets. They have two kids that are close to Lena and Gil’s age, and the four children had so much fun together! We were sorry to leave!
Forest helped with packing. I’m hoping to write a list of what we packed soon. We brought 4 carry-on suitcases and didn’t check any bags, except for free-to-check baby items: umbrella stroller, baby bed, and narrow car seats and booster seats for our European rental cars.
And we’re off! We left on Tuesday, April 4, and we had to drive 2 hours to LA first. We parked our car in long-term parking and then took the shuttle to the airport. By the time we got through security, we felt like we’d already run a marathon! Packing, organizing the house, driving, and dealing with the airport had made for a very full day.
We were super early to the airport, which I loved and Elliott begrudgingly accepted — hah! We have access to certain airport lounges thanks to one of our credit cards, so we headed there for a couple of hours before our flight.
Lena had turned 6 the day before, so she was eager to break out some of her birthday presents!
Time to head to our gate! The rolling suitcases took a little bit of figuring out…
… but this makes it look like a breeze. For those who are interested, these are the suitcases we purchased after comparing tons of them. They fit the carry-on size requirements for all European airlines.
On the flight, we were seated together, but I requested to move when I saw there was an empty seat in front of the bulkhead, which had the attachments for a baby bassinet. They let me move to that seat, and I was so thankful. However, Forest was really too big for the bassinet (he’s 30 inches long and weighs 20 lbs), and so he only slept comfortably in it for a few hours.
After that I had a terrible time getting him back to sleep; he just wouldn’t settle in the Ergo, the bassinet, or my arms. Finally we both fell asleep with me sitting down and him in the Ergo.
Elliott had a slightly better time with the older kids. Thanks to my move, they each had two seats to themselves! He also gave them melatonin, a natural sleep aid, which was new for us. I purchased this melatonin right before our flight, and our pediatrician friend recommended doses for them based on their age and size. It seemed to work well, as the kids slept off and on for about 7 hours. On a 9.5-hour flight, that is solid gold!
And finally, many hours later, we landed at London’s Gatwick airport. The kids were still wearing their pajamas when we disembarked… oops!
And here we are, ready to head out to our rental car. I didn’t plan it, but they are totally matching their suitcases.
And now in the rental car! I did a lot of research and decided to get Diono car seats for Forest and Gil because they are so narrow and so safe. Thankfully, a mom I trusted in my neighborhood was selling two of them for $40 each, and so I purchased them for this trip and for Hawaii, and I plan to resell them or give them away afterwards. For Lena I purchased a Bubble Bum inflatable booster seat after hearing about it from more trusted pediatrician friends. It is also super narrow.
The Car Crash Detective’s “3 Across Guide” was helpful in determining which configurations of seats would probably fit into little rental cars. We rented a small Skoda Octavia station wagon, and all our luggage fit easily in the back. Now I am wondering why we have a minivan?!
At last, with everything and everyone securely in place, we left the airport. Unfortunately, by now it was 4pm and prime rush hour, so we spent the next 2 hours on the M25 highway around London, exhausted beyond belief, telling the kids “just a little bit longer!”
We finally arrived around dinner time to my friend Laura’s house in Gerrards Cross, a lovely neighborhood outside London. I’ll pick up our story again soon with the details of our first few days!
Are you coming back to Sicily in your trip?
Will be a pleasure to meet you after years of reading your story and “perfect” my english discovering your lovely kids.
Not this time, Paty! We would love to in the next couple of years, though!
Magnificent! Lovely pics and great stories. Brings back so many fun memories. I can imagine trying to hold it together on the M. Anxious for the next chapter! :)
I know you can relate VERY well… and I am sure these traveling posts will jog many memories!
Hooray! So happy to read about your adventures thus far. I am definitely sharing this post with my sister, who was asking me the other day for “traveling with kids” tips. They are going to San Fran this summer (I already told her to check out your post from your trip there!) I love seeing the pics of the kids- Lena looks so grown up! Have fun!
Oh good for her! SF was incredible; I hope we can go back, perhaps on our road trip from CA to VA this summer when we move. Tell her to go to all the playgrounds! It is the most amazingly playground-dense city we’ve ever visited.
Keep the posts comin’ !!!! Love reading about your family adventure!
Thanks, Em! I need an update on your moving plans, too. Anything decided?
I am so glad you’re sharing a travelogue here (just read both posts in reader!). Wishing you a happy (& somewhat restful?!) trip exploring with your family — what a beautiful place to be!
Thank you, Alli! I hope to post frequently as we travel, but this week is more relaxed so it’s easier. :) I’m glad you’re enjoying it!
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Family on the road! You prepared so well, with these roller suitcases for the kids. That photo of Forest in the suitcase as you pack it is one of my favorites. It says so much about preparing for a trip. I am loving being able to follow your journey and picture you all.