We are traveling across country as part of a move to New Zealand. This type of travel is much different to the business trip where it’s all about the art of the carry-on, with micro-computers/media devices, ensuring no liquids, metal belts or lace-up shoes. Our trip is more about maximizing the checked luggage (reference my previous review post about the luggage scale) … so we ended up with 11 checked bags for the five of us (plus 5 carry-on’s and 5 personal items – making 21 articles to keep track of). The first rule when traveling with lots of people and bags, is that it’s important to keep a good count on everyone and everything – and avoid the ‘Home Alone’ possibilities.
I’ve often wondered what the absolutely most important item is for keeping in your hands for use during the flight. I’ve tried many things over the years, and often find my iPod is the best since I can listen to some tunes during the long hours on a plane. My son just bought a Nook colour and I really liked using that as an e-reader – even if it doesn’t provide the same texture, feel and smell of a good book.
However, it’s hard to overlook a comfy eye-shade, blanket and neck cushion as my daughter demonstrates. It reminded me that we need to consider the different needs of everyone in the family when we’re helping prepare for a long trip. We made a point of stopping in Dallas Forth Worth (DFW) on our trip since she was born nearby. There’s not much that compares with the contagious excitement of a young child about the simple pleasures of life – such as visiting the city of her birth. Sometimes it’s worth making an extra layover instead of simply taking the direct flight. Not only does an extra layover break up a long flight into smaller segments, but it allows you to experience the culture and atmosphere of a different place. Each airport seems to incorporate the character of the city it serves, and DFW isn’t an exception – and truly feels like you have landed in Texas.
Getting a large group of people and bags to and from an airport isn’t a small challenge either. Using a shuttle is usually the best option, whether a free service or on a cost per person basis. We’ve used taxi’s and limo’s before, but there are limits about how many people and bags can be moved at one time. When we landed in LA, we were able to get a GMC Yukon XL, and it was an ideal size for our family of five with all our stuff. I shudder to think of how we would have managed with a smaller vehicle. Of course, moving house and home is a much more challenging movement than a holiday, but it’s important to consider these things when planning out the trip. In addition, with a family of five it’s important to choose a hotel room carefully. In our case it made sense to get two rooms with a connecting door – the extra space goes a long way to avoiding the pressure cooking experience of sharing a room with a couple of teenage boys.
Plan your family trip so that there is adequate time to visit the Sky Club Lounge (or equivalent) at each of the airports you visit along the way. Allow an extra 30-60 minutes so that you can relax in comfort, and don’t need to rush between gates. It’s best to minimize anxiety and stress at every opportunity.
Also, make a point of visiting DFW – it’s also one of my favorite airports and is very well organized. The new SkyLink makes a fabulous way to see the airport from 50 ft above the ground, plus makes for a quick connection between terminals.
As some may know, the Traveling Dad is moving home base from Atlanta, Georgia in the USA, to Christchurch, New Zealand. I am taking a senior role in the infrastructure reconstruction following the significant earthquakes in that region since late 2010. It is expected that I will actually have more time with my family, more time for blogging, and more time for family travel – instead of the significant amount of international travel that I have been doing for work over the last few years. Today I thought I would simply offer a few thoughts about making an international move.
– If it’s just you and your backpack, it’s fairly easy to pack and go (speaking from experience). An international move could be the greatest education you ever get, as it teaches you about yourself and about others.
– As a young couple without kids, it’s also relatively easy to make an international move … just make sure you’re both in agreement about making the adventure together. Troubles will come, and flexibility is essential … but in the future you will probably remember those times as your greatest adventures. At this time in your life, you can probably sell everything you own and start again in the foreign land of your choice (it’s a lot cheaper than moving a bunch of furniture around the world).
– When you’re a family with children, an international move is a significant event. This is what our family is doing at present. Once the move is decided, there are many details to work through – too many to comprehensively cover today. If a sea voyage is required, don’t trust the moving company that gives you a quote based on land costs (yes, we did get one). I would also recommend taking the time to downsize, and ensure that you keep only the things that are most important such as – memorabilia, items of sentimental value, things that are “irreplaceable”, items that are expensive to replace in the new country, and items which will make your new place feel like “home”.
Please take the time to sign up for updates. I’ve been asked by many people to write more about our various travels and activities, so hope to have more time with my new job. Having traveled extensively, I believe I have enough material to write for a very long time.
Don’t be afraid to venture overseas – the world is much bigger than your country of origin.