Travel Hell II (AKA Things to Pack for a Long Haul Flight With Kids)

If you’re an expat living in Asia, but your whole family still lives on the other side of the world, you have no choice but to board a plane once a year, fly back to the land from whence your passport came, and show your increasingly-wrinkled / sun-kissed face.  And if you have kids – 1 kid, 2 kids, 3, 7, it doesn’t matter how many, nor does it matter how old they are (NO ONE gets a pass) – still you go.  If your husband has to stay behind to work, which means you’re doing this journey solo, STILL, you steel yourself and you go.  And if your husband is able to join you, but is sitting up in Business Class while you sit in back with the kids, still, STILL you go (but you complain.  In public whenever possible, FOREVER.  True story.).

For all our expat sisters embarking on Homecoming trips this summer, we offer the following list of Things To Pack For A Long Haul Flight With Kids:

  • A blanket.  Because first of all, airborne hell is cold.  And second, your kids will need somewhere to blow their noses, mop up their spilled juices, and dry mommy’s tears of exhaustion.
  • Noise cancelling headphones.  Because airplanes are noisy.  And so are children.
  • Snacks.  Many, many snacks.  In fact a snack trolley of one’s own would be ideal.  Because 28 hours, and children.
  • Lip balm.  Because the entire day in dry, recycled air plays havoc on your kissers, and you don’t want to greet your whole family with a brush of dried corn husks on the cheek.  Also, what is the baby going to snack on when you take your eyes off her for two minutes?
  • A book.  Nothing is better for keeping you occupied for the endless, endless hours than opening your book, reading one line, being distracted by your children demanding something inane, closing the book with an eye-roll and a muttered profanity, and repeating the exercise again in four minutes time, again and again.
  • An eye mask.  No, not for all the sleep you’ll be getting (obviously, silly).  But at some point you might need to disguise yourself, so people don’t associate you with those maniacal children sitting beside you.  Eye masks are the bomb for this.
  • A sticker saying “Don’t Ask. Just Pour.”  Wear this somewhere obvious- such as taped to your forehead, or tucked in to your eye mask at a jaunty angle- because after fifteen hours of pleading with your kids to stop wriggling and stop spilling and *just sleep FFS,* you won’t always have the verbal skills to ask for another shot of gin.

Good luck and godspeed, expat sisters.  See you on the other side. 

(Ps: some of you might recognise this Textpat exchange from last summer. Apologies for the duplications. In our defence (a) it is as pertinent now as it was then; and (b) after 30 hours’ travel with kids-  this is the best you’re going to get from us…)









 

 

Check Your Head

There are some times, when life gets uncomfortable, that you just can’t help thinking, “This would be SO much easier if I were in my home country.” (Examples: Flat tires and gynocological exams.) You feel fairly certain that your problem would be SO easily solved, if only you were AT “HOME.” Which is usually crap because life isn’t always sunshine and unicorns, no matter where you live. Sometimes you just need to put on your big girl pants and deal. (And sometimes a big girl drink helps.)




Love Shack

It’s easy to fall into a rut no matter where you live, and even more so when you live in a well-insulated and very comfy little Expat Bubble.  Pretty soon one finds oneself eating at the same places, talking to the same people, doing the same thing, week after week. So every once in a while, one of us really tries to break free and try something new.  Often, it’s wonderful and fascinating and enlightening.  And sometimes we end up running back to our Bubble and cowering inside…


Invasion of the Hipster Surgeons 

It used to be a common complaint amongst expats that there was nowhere to get a decent cup of coffee. This was loudest heard from our antipodean friends who lamented the lack of hipster cafes so common in their homelands. Well lament no longer, Sheilas: the hipster cafe invasion has well and truly taken hold. These days it’s impossible to just get a filter coffe or a cuppa tae. But a hand-pressed deconstructed French flat-white served in a test-tube? Would you like sugar with that? 

Crocodile Country(side)

You’ll often hear expats here saying that Singapore has ‘everything’. And it really does – if by ‘everything’ you mean ‘everything you could ever hope for from a tiny tropical country sitting smack on the Equator’. Just occasionally, tho, it would be nice if ‘everything’ didn’t include ferocious prehistoric beasts who are adverse to day-trippers…