So in mid October we went to visit my family in Spain. We only went for 4 days/3 nights, as I knew that any longer would be a drag for me, Jon and the kids. I really didn’t want to go, especially because I was dreading the journey itself. I know it’s only a short plane journey compared to, for instance, flying to Australia (like my friend Elena and her 9 month old son did only last week!). But the whole thing was dooming in my head.
The journey wasn’t as bad as I had envisioned in my head. It wasn’t easy, there were tough parts, but not as bad as I was expecting. The plane departed at 8:30 am, which meant we had to be in Gatwick at 6:30 (the recommended two hours for check in, allowing plenty of time to go through security with the kids). In order to be there at that time, we had to leave the house at 5am. So we were up at 3:30, gave the twins a feed, showered and dressed, finished packing and got in the car.
Traffic at that time of the morning was easy, so we made it to the Short Stay car park at Gatwick Airport right at the planned time. Since we were only going for 4 days, I decided that it was worth paying a tiny bit more and staying in the Valet Parking of the Short Stay. I think we paid around £50, but let me tell you, the convenience and ease of the journey was worth it.
So we arrive at the Monarch check in desk, and there were no queues! This was a first, trust me. Everytime I’ve flown at that time of the morning from Gatwick, the queues have been pretty monumental. But this time we just eased through! We got the pushchair frame and the two maxi cosys checked in (although allowed to take up to the gate). I must mention the Family Lane at Security. It wasn’t just for families, they were scanning wheelchairs too, which didn’t make it any faster. But it made it easier for us, even just to know that we weren’t holding any “self important travellers” behind us. They did make us open three milk cartons and taste the milk (I was quite unimpressed with the taste of formula milk, actually), but apart from that the whole thing was quite easy (plus it was decorated in quite a child friendly style, with the walk through scan being in the shape of castle turrets)
The flight was, let’s say, interesting… Elisa kind of loved it. She was so pumped up with energy, jumping up and down, and she didn’t cry at all. Quite a trooper. Eric, on the other hand, had a massive meltdown and was crying for what seemed like an eternity just before take off. He then fell asleep, but seemed to be quite uncomfortable the whole journey.
And we got to Malaga, and luck struck again when we went to pick up our car rental and the queues for the company we chose were non existent (all other car rental companies had massive queues!). So we managed to collect our car and get running quite straight away.
We got to Motril without incidents and finally met my family.
I will skip through all the pain that we went through when we clashed with the Spanish style of doing things, but I will mention that putting the kids to bed was a struggle all three evenings that we were there. The first night was horrible, with 7 adults and two children in the room next door shouting like they were alone in the place (I know they didn’t mean to shout, it’s just the Spanish way!). And the following two nights the twins had terrible gas pains – so bad that I had to run to the emergency pharmacy and get some medication for them.
The journey back was only slightly worse that the journey in. Malaga’s airport is not as prepared for travelling families as Gatwick and going through security was a bit harder. They didn’t make us try the milk, but we lost our scissors that we use for opening the milk cartons as I forgot to check them in, and then they wouldn’t allow us to get them through. I must say, though, that everybody was extremely nice and helpful at both ends. Having twins has got its advantages!
The flight was a bit worse than the previous one. This time Elisa decided to join Eric in the crying, and we had both of them going on and off at the same time and at different times. Once again, people were ever so nice and helpful.
Once in Gatwick, the funniest (not) thing happened. We were in baggage reclaim, and had the twins in the baby bjorn carriers. Both our suitcases came out and were waiting for the pushchair frame and maxicosys to come out. And nothing happened. And we waited and nothing happened. And suddenly the baggage belt is empty. No more cases or anything are coming out and everybody has left and we are standing there, looking like idiots, waiting and waiting. And suddenly we realise that without the maxicosys we can’t go home! We can’t drive without the car seats! So we start wondering where in hell we can get two car seats at the airport (at this point we have been travelling since 6:3o am and are knackered and just want to go home). Suddenly, I notice this tiny sign by the side of the belt that says that any large or special items like children’s pushchairs are to be collected from Reclaim Belt 10. Doh!!! Why did nobody tell us anything? I mean, it was pretty obvious why we were standing there, looking all worried… Nevermind, another anecdote to tell!
So, that is it in a nutshell. Both Jon and I have decided that we won’t be flying any time soon again. We will take holidays in the New Forest (which we both love), as it is only one hour drive away. That’s the furthest we want to go!
However, if we had to do it again, what would we do differently?
– I wouldn’t take any milk cartons with us for the journey. Instead I would buy them at the airport. You can actually call Boots and reserve as much formula as you want, but after having been there I noticed that they have plenty of all brands in stock, so no booking required. This would save a tiny bit of hassle at security (and having to taste the insipid formula!)
– As much as my mum enjoyed having us in her house, I think next time I would prefer to be in our own place. Either our apartment or even a hotel. We’ve got used to doing things our way with the kids and I very much appreciate the quietness of our home.
– On our way out, the stewardesses at the Gate didn’t call for families with children to board first. It was quite awkward, as we had lots to get ready before boarding (getting the kids into the baby carriers, folding the frame and strapping it, preparing the maxicosys so they don’t get damaged, etc. – all those things that you do at the last minute, just outside the plane where it’s easier). So in hindsight, we would go to the stewardess at the desk and explain that there’s lots to get ready and it would just be easier for everybody if we boarded first.