Thinking of taking a European vacation with a small child? Don’t.
Seriously, don’t do it. Don’t go unless you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. SPOILER ALERT: It won’t be relaxing. It won’t be chill. It won’t be about sleeping in, room service, spa treatments, gourmet restaurants, hammocking, hot tubs, cocktails or romance. What it will be about is your child. But here’s the kicker, seeing a trip through their eyes — instead of yours — might even be more fun. Stop giving me the side eye and just hear me out.
I get it. When my husband, Alex, suggested we visit his hometown of London with our three-and-half year old son, Maxwell, I thought he was in need of shock therapy. Who’d want to endure a tedious ten-hour flight being that parent who can’t control his kid, nightmarish bouts of jet lag, seven straight days of erratic tantrums and having to creatively answer constant “Why” questions?
It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to go, it was just… I didn’t want to go. But then Alex explained that his mother, whom I adore, had a milestone birthday coming up and wished to celebrate the momentous occasion in London with her brood of children and grandchildren. Who was I to stand in the way of the Brothers & Sisters Sally Field moment she so desperately craved? After all, marriage is about compromise — and now that we are legally married — woo hoo! — I had no other option than to acquiesce.
I won’t bore you with the day-to-day details (Hey look kids, there's Big Ben, and there's Parliament... again). But I’m happy to report it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. It actually turned out to be… wait for it… kind of amazing. Sure, we averaged eighteen minutes of sleep each night, and yeah, Max only ate Pringles, Oreos and milk for seven straight days… but we’re two dads with our wonderful, healthy son, experiencing the culture of a beautiful foreign country — together. No distractions. No looking down at our phones. No kissing Max goodbye as we head off to work. We went to bed together. We woke up together. We ate together (and I say “ate” loosely). We lived in the moment and made lifelong memories.
And since we gay parents have to look out for each other — I’ve compiled a list of 10 traveling-with-tot tips designed to help you navigate the wonderful and woeful realities of international travel. Godspeed.
So here we stand… brave gay warriors who made it through our first international trip with our little boy… and somehow managed to keep him alive... and smiling. We did it! And you can too.
The Griswolds from National Lampoon's European Vacation? They’ve got nothing on us.