“When you travel, there really are no mistakes – just learning opportunities” – Mary Casanova
I’ve said it before, travel days can be tough. Traveling with a toddler can make it tougher. Traveling with misplaced luggage and stroller can make it a nightmare.
Let’s back up a bit….
Wanting to celebrate our little one’s final days of free airline travel we booked a trip back to Amsterdam. We had visited once before for a whirlwind three day tour several years back and thought it would be a safe choice in terms of not feeling rushed to see sights if our toddler decided that flying over the pond was NOT his cup of tea. I urge you to re-read this sentence because it makes us seem like such rational and well thought out people/parents. We even packed up – entirely packed up, mind you – a full 12 hours before our flight. I am the queen of last minute “I’ll just wake up extra early” shove-in-the-suitcase style of packing so this was a feat that I was sure only the most competent and responsible Adults accomplish. Le sigh.
Anxiously awaiting our red-eye flight I played through several worst case scenarios in my head. We were carrying on a small bag with emergency changes of clothes in case our luggage was lost/delayed. We had a smorgasbord of snack food that was extra-picky toddler approved. We even got a smaller umbrella stroller to make navigating transport easier. I thought I had it covered – worst case we were carrying on everything we would need for the first 24 hours in Amsterdam. What could go wrong?
Shhh…do you hear that? It’s the sound of the universe laughing at me.
Things started off without a hitch (“as they usually do” – every movie ever made. Ever.). Our kiddo did his normal toddler thing on our flights and actually slept the majority of the red-eye flight. Even though I barely slept (the above worst case scenarios were playing out, along with white knuckle death grip on seat for every bit of turbulence) I counted this as a huge victory.
Wheels down – we did it! We made it to Europe with a toddler!
We were told as we were disembarking that our gate-checked stroller would be delivered about half way down the jet bridge. No worries there, I’d simply walk our little guy out to let him work out some energy and Adam would wait for the goods.
When the entire flight crew walked past us, still stroller-less, we began to get a sneaking suspicion that not all had gone according to plan. We also came to the horrifying, though previously unnecessary realization, that the one thing that doesn’t fit in a carryon bag is a f*ing stroller.
After many assurances that the stroller was accidentally carried off to go to baggage claim with our other bags we start our trek through the airport.
This seems like a good time to mention that Schiphol Amsterdam is a big f*ing airport.
Major props, by the way, to Schiphol, because I’ve never been given quite so many privileges on the mere account of having my progeny with me. Instead of having to wait in the long non-EU passport line at border patrol, they let us in the much shorter line for EU citizens “on account of the baby” and were also ushered to the front of the taxi line “because of him”. Fantastic customer service, jet lagged parents everywhere applaud you!
Ahem…now let’s get back to the nitty gritty.
The Baggage claim area spans what felt like the entire length of the airport. We walked what felt like 2 miles pushing a carry on, backpack and camera bag, and carrying our adored and kind of heavy toddler. Each step was a screaming reminder of how much easier it would be if our stroller had been delivered to us on the jet bridge. Sigh…we’ll get it back soon enough.
Do I even need to say what happened next? You guys should know where this is going by now…
We finally get to our carousel and, like a good omen, our large suitcase has already arrived. Phew! Then we realize that not only was our stroller not there, our car seat wasn’t there either. Now – a quick side note – we debated on whether or not to bring the car seat, we obviously needed to use it back home to get to the airport but we assumed we’d either be taking public transport or simply hold him in our laps for the 15 minute drive to our apartment (please don’t arrest me mommy police! Or real police for that matter…?). We decided to err on the side of caution and bring it so now there were two non-carry-on-bag compatible items missing from our “emergency worst case” bag.
Adam pulls the trigger and waits in line for the missing baggage desk while I attend to our very active toddler who was delighted to discover that our four-wheeled 70 LB suitcase could be pushed quite easily into unsuspecting travelers.
Wouldn’t you know it one piece of the missing duo arrived. And by god we now really regret having brought the car seat because we had one extra piece of luggage to lug around in addition to our toddler we had no means to push. Car seats are great and all, but since this particular one had no wheels or handlebars I was feeling particularly salty towards it. It should’ve known better and stuck with its – far more useful, my feet and back screamed – compadre known as the brand new umbrella stroller we’d bought specifically for this trip. I pointedly ignored the nagging voice in the back of my head that reminded me of the very deliberate decision I made to not also pack our baby carrier. You know, just in case.
No mistakes though, right Mary? So, here’s to new learning opportunities! To making it in safely, to having ALL of our clothes that we packed, beautiful weather, and a toddler who hasn’t fallen asleep this fast while out on a walk since he was in the womb!