When we first started planning our trip to the Philippines the flight was one of my biggest concerns. We’re talking over 24 hours of traveling, 2 flight changes, and a radical time change. With 3 kids. Under 5.
Our journey started at about 1:30 in the afternoon when Jake’s brother-in-law dropped us off at the airport. It took us a few minutes to figure out how to haul 3 carseats, 2 luggage sets, 3 small children, and various backpacks and bags to the check in counter, but with a little creativity anything is possible!
Of course, when we finally made it the universe decided to throw a curve ball. Our flight to San Francisco was going to be late due to fog, meaning we wouldn’t be able to catch our next flight to Tokyo. Jake worked on a solution while I tried to keep three kids and a pile of luggage out of people’s way. I honestly didn’t even know what was going on.
Jake finally arranged to have us fly to LA and connect to Hong Kong, but that would put us arriving in Manila late at night, which we weren’t thrilled about. On top of that, we had already reserved our hotel for our 11 hour layover in Japan, and it was too late to get a refund. We checked our ridiculous load of baggage and managed to navigate the rest of our stuff, including children, through security.
Then we had a stroke of good fortune.
The gate for our new flight was right next to the gate for our old flight. Jake noticed an announcement over the loud speaker saying that the San Francisco flight would not be as delayed as they originally thought. He immediately went to the counter and, after much discussion, got us back on our original flight!
After landing in California we rushed to catch our next flight. This was the first time I had flown internationally. I had never ridden an airplane that size, and I had definitely never had a personalized TV screen with a list of available movies. I quickly tucked away the kids backpacks with the toys they were already getting sick, and plugged in the little headphones we got them for Christmas. I felt my stress melt away as they zoned into Lightening McQueen land. Maybe we would survive this.
To my surprise, Jake was doing even better than I was. He had our one year old on another row, the squirmy one with no interest in anything electronic. He was already taking advantage of the rest of the empty row beside him, laying down the packaged airline blankets and pillows to make a little bed. I didn’t think it would work, but it was the kid’s bedtime back in Idaho (where we’d come from), and the airline was already dimming the lights. Before long the little guy was snuggled in and starting to doze. Our two year old didn’t even make it through one round of cars, and even or four year old fell asleep at a decent hour, in Idaho time, at least.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the airplane chairs as comfortable as my kids apparently did. With some tossing and turning I got some sleep, but not much. I was glad now that we had reserved that hotel in Tokyo, and that we would be there to enjoy it.
I was less glad when it actually came time to navigate to it. Leaving the airport, even to go to a hotel that was literally attached to the airport, was a huge pain. Filling out paperwork, pulling out passports, and trying to find staff who spoke enough English to point us in the right direction. When we finally made it I was ready to collapse onto the bed.
That is where my kids would have said, “yeah right, mom”, if they knew the phrase. They had just slept across an entire ocean and were wide awake, despite it being 10:00 at night Tokyo time. Plus they were in a hotel room with lots of cool stuff to explore and destroy. We put on a show for them, which they kind of watched, while Jake and I took turns sleeping.
We woke up early to give ourselves plenty of time at the airport. We had learned from recent experience that things can go wrong. Plus, we’d heard that there was a playground and an origami gallery there.
Of course we never got to enjoy them.
Apparently, they knew that we had changed our flight to Hong Kong, but didn’t know that we had changed it back. So, once again, I sat in a pile of kids and luggage, playing eye spy, and trying, frantically, to keep them all entertained. Eventually my amazing husband got it all worked out, just in time to catch our flight.
That last six hour flight is a bit of a blur. I was tired, even movies were losing their grip on the kids’ interest, and the bathroom lines were long. When we arrived in Manila we were told our luggage had not arrived. In our zombie state we were surprisingly calm about this. We assumed they would come in on the later flight that we were supposed to be on, and the airport said they would deliver them to us when they arrived.
Less stuff for us to deal with.
When we finally got out of baggage claim we met our sister-in-law’s aunt and uncle, who had kindly agreed to pick us up. They were life savers. They had a taxi waiting for us, helped carry and load up our stuff, and kept the kids entertained while I dozed on the drive.
We made it.