One of the great gifts of expat life is travelling around this fascinating, beautiful part of the world. And a big fluffy bow on that gift can be travelling with friends. Planning your adventures together, sharing the sights and sounds, kids bonding, parents drinking, sunburns and tuk tuks and street food – you might as well put the whole thing in slo-mo and set it to ukulele music. That’s how great it is. But every once in a while, even the best of friends are not on the same page about everything. Like when, in one notable case, ferry tickets were bought, and one expat opted for Emerald Class (because that sounds amazing, right?) and one opted out…
Singaporeans love their babies. And, as we recently discovered, their babies love nothing more than a nice, relaxing soak in the hot tub.
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…)