It’s now September and everyone is busy rushing around sorting themselves out, going back to school or to the office. It’s easy to fall back into everyday life and forget to reflect on the summer and any language or cultural trips; building and strengthening family bonds across oceans and boosting language acquisition and everyday practice.
We returned from a three week trip to Mexico last week, a first for our toddler, who turns two next week. The air travel wasn’t as bad as we imagined in the end (S didn’t scream the plane down for 9 hours straight), although it’s taking him a while to readjust to UK time and his normal routine and in the meantime he’s refusing to go to sleep until the wee hours.
In this series of posts I am going to reflect on several aspects of our Mexico trip including air travel, family and language – S has finally started talking. I am also excited to share some excellent Spanish language books for young children that I found in Guadalajara.
The outbound journey went surprisingly smoothly. As luck had it we flew out from the recently revamped Heathrow terminal 2 which was, in fact, quite a civilised experience. Efficient check in, friendly, helpful staff and few queues (I know, it doesn’t seem possible!). We even got a seat in a decent restaurant overlooking the planes so S was kept pretty happy before boarding the plane, despite the flight being delayed by an hour.
We flew with United Airlines to Houston, a flight of about 9 hours. Luckily S slept for over 2 hours shortly after take off, and we managed to successfully distract him with a suitcaseful of toys and activities along with the on board entertainment. (If you are interested in which toys/activities worked best and which to avoid, take a look my previous post – Warning: Toddler in Transit.) The only complaint really was that no food was provided for S as he was travelling on an infant fare sitting on our lap. We bought snacks but didn’t expect to need enough food for a 9 hour flight!
We arrived very tired at Houston, where unfortunately we encountered long queues and painfully slow immigration staff. At least we would soon have a bed to climb into. We were glad that we weren’t in transit direct to Mexico at this point. A couple of days in Houston with L’s sister and brother-in-law provided a welcome respite.
The next flight from Houston to Puerta Vallarta on Mexico’s pacific coast, a mere two and half hours, then seemed like a breeze. Especially as we waltzed through passport control on arrival passing hoards of queuing foreigners, L’s Mexican passport in hand.
Fast forward three weeks and we are headed home also via Houston but this time from Guadalajara. The main US-UK leg of the journey was a night flight. S managed to sleep for about five hours and the flight passed relatively painlessly although we slept very little arriving very tired. Unfortunately making it home to Bristol took an eternity; once we had figured out how to find the central bus station, we struggled with full buses to Bristol compounded with a lack of taxis on arrival and then rush hour traffic. Next time we’ll look into flying directly from Bristol airport I think, going via London was supposed to save us time as we only had to make one connection, but it didn’t really work out like that.
How did your summer journeys go? I’d love to hear about your experiences with toddlers, especially if it was your first time going long-haul.