I traveled a lot with my parents when I was a kid and have gone on many vacations with them as an adult but I haven’t really traveled with them in a long time, as in waking-up-in-the-same-house-the-morning-of- your-early-flight sort of travel. It was interesting.
My siblings and I went to Finland to visit my mother’s family nearly every summer. There are four of us with thirteen years between the oldest (me) and the youngest (my brother) so there were always various combinations of siblings depending on the year. It’s a lot of kids to rally from grumpy teenagers to naughty toddlers. Add to this one very stressed out traveler (a charge my mother would deny) and it makes for a lot of fast walking and impatient sighing. To this day, I think my mother is convinced she is one trip away from missing her next flight. (And so what, my dad would say, just get on the next one!)
One of my clearest memories traveling with my mother is her yelling very sternly in the airport at me and my sisters: “Pack packs, girls, pack packs!” as we followed her at breakneck speed through the airport to our gate to make sure we were first in line. (Translation: Backpacks, girls, backpacks! Imagine this being said with a Finnish accent. My sisters and I still laugh about this and will at times say it to one another when my mother is rushing us.)
Not much has changed. The night before our early morning flight to Cusco my mother reminded Sean about 10 times to please make sure he set the alarm on his phone. (Because she couldn’t set hers? Didn’t know how? Didn’t want to? I’m not sure.) She was still the first one awake (or so she claims). Sean was a close second (in reality first) despite his very lax attitude about getting to the airport on time, maybe that’s why I married him. She woke my father up shortly after and I was finally forced to get up with far more time than I need in the morning. I stumbled into the kitchen to find my dad awake and fully dressed.
“Why does Mom think we need so much time before we leave for the airport?” I grumpily asked him while the hairdryer that had woken me up whined from the bathroom.
“Because she is freaking annoying,” he replied, and laughed at his blasphemy, happy to finally share the burden with someone else.
My mom proceeded to do her nervous dance as we got into the taxicabs (one poor Spanish speaker per taxi aka me and Sean in case we got lost) and didn’t stop until we got on the plane. Of course we mercilessly teased her the whole time and my father loved every minute of it. We made her sit down while everyone else stood on line for about 25 minutes waiting for the bus that would take us to the airplane.
I realize now that when it comes to traveling I am my mother in my own little family (although of course I don’t think I am that bad) despite all my own years of travel. I don’t sleep very well the night before a flight and fling myself around barking orders and packing and panicking until it’s time to go to bed. I am not completely relaxed until I step onto the plane, find my seat and fight for space for my bag in the overhead compartment (which I always have plenty of because I am at the front of the line.)