Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

If You've Ever Flown With Kids...

Then you know how hellacious the journey can be, even when things go the way you planned.

Our travel for R&R from Cairo to the U.S. was SUPPOSED to look like this:

*Thursday, July 12th:  Awaken at midnight, take invigorating showers.  Awaken kids at 1:00AM.  Fly out of Cairo at 4:00AM to Frankfort.  Darling angels sleep on plane.  Parents catch a couple zzzzz's as well. Arrive rested in Frankfort 4 hours later.

*6 hour layover in Frankfort.  Navigate airport to McDonald's with play area.  Eat lunch.  Let kids burn off energy.  Walk around airport.  Get toddler to run around and burn off more energy.

*Fly Frankfort direct to Orlando.  Endure 10 hour flight.  Darling angels catch naps on plane, play with multiple electronic devices to stay out of our hair.  Arrive in Orlando at 6:30PM.  Get rental car.  Go to timeshare condo.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  You know where this is going, right?

This is how the journey ended up:

*Thursday, July 12th.  Awaken at midnight.  Get in shower.  No water.  ::sigh:: Awaken kids at 1:00AM.  At 2:00AM - when we were just pulling into airport - receive call that flight is cancelled.  Realize we have no keys to get back into our house (we left them with friends).

*Decide to tough it out at airport to see if there are ANY flights to get us out of Cairo and to somewhere near Orlando.  Kids and I wait in van (gotta love Egypt - van with driver and expeditor only $20!).  Kids fight.  Toddler cries, finally falls asleep.  Fab hubby waits in-line for 3 hours.

*Airline wants to book us on 4:00AM flight TOMORROW.  Fab hubby, being extra fabulous, says "NO FREAKING WAY."  Haggling ensues.  New flights! Today!  Booked to London to Philadelphia to Orlando.  Now leaving at 8:00AM.

*Van drives us to different terminal. Check-in to fight.  Realize that we're kinda screwed with our next fight in London.  Only 1 HOUR between flights.  Decide we don't care.  We're getting out of Cairo one way or another.

*Board plane to London.  Flight staff takes my stroller.  "NOOOOO!!!!" "Sorry, Ma'am, you'll get it back at your final destination.  There's no place to store it on board."  ::sigh::

*Eyebrows raised by flight staff when they see our large Britax car seat (a MUST for our toddler - otherwise, he'll run around the plane the entire time) - "Ma'am you can check that at the gate."  Me:  "Gawd, no.  It's airline approved!" I point to tiny little airplane sticker on side of carseat.  Flight staff impressed.

*Strap giant toddler and car seat into plane.  He *immediately* falls asleep.  SCORE!  Owen plays DS, Abby plays on her iPad.  Arrive in London 5 hours later.  I ask flight staff about where to go for our next flight - we're in luck!  It's in the same terminal!  Score!

*Fab hubby gets stuck dragging luggage and car seat.  I'm toting the giant toddler in my arms.  Toddler very very angry.  Kids have back packs and stuff.  Disembark plane.  Find out our flight is, in fact, NOT in same terminal.  Must go through security first.  Find out fight check-in closes in 35 minutes.

*OMG.  Flight check-in closes in 35 minutes!!!  In a different terminal.  Past security.  We literally run.  Take a train to the terminal. Make it to security. The toddler is HEAVY.  Fab hubby is swearing at car seat.  Kids putting stuff through X-ray.  Abby realizes she forgot her iPad on the plane.  SHE FORGOT HER IPAD ON THE PLANE.  Fab hubby looks and me and says "iPad or U.S.?"  Dude.  "U.S."  Plus, we can't get back to the other terminal.  Will check on iPad when we arrive in Orlando.

*Run to gate where flight is to take off.  Have 5 minutes to spare.  I am sweating.  WAIT.  This is the wrong gate.  Frantically ask for help.  Gate that way...we run.  AGAIN.  It's like a scene from a bad movie.  Airport worker calls out as we run by: "You leaving on the plane to Philadelphia?" Me: "YES!!" Her: "You better hurry up and run! [duh] You have one minute and they are closing the gate!"  We *try* to run faster.  Make it to gate. Employees give us the stink eye.  But we made it.

*Get on plane.  Fab hubby and kids are seated far in the back of the plane, away from me and Kellen.  We don't care.  We have a flight!  To the U.S.!  Toddler falls asleep.  For only 2 of the 8 hours.  Wakes up kicking the seat in front of him.  Over. And over. And over. Again.  Walk toddler around the perimeter of the plane.  Appease his with sugary snacks.  Get him milk from the flight staff.  Strap him back in his seat.  Kicks the seat in front of him.  Again.  And again.  And again.

*Finally arrive in Philly.  Abby had puked.  And then puked again.  On descent of the plane just before landing.  Poor little one (she's 7 years old) looks like a zombie.  I give her some anti-puke meds.  We have 2 hours to get through customs, get our bags, and check in to the next flight (need to get boarding tickets).

*Fab hubby stuck with carry-on bag and car seat again.  All of us are standing in-line in Customs.  Owen (he's 9 years old) is falling asleep standing up.  Just wants to lay down!  No, we tell him over and over again.  We set the toddler down for a second...and he BOLTS. Under the line barriers, past everyone standing in line, to the down escalator.  We scream: "Owen! Run for him!"  And I'm right behind him.  We catch the mini monster just before he steps on the death-trap of an escalator.  We strap him in the carseat and drag it through the line.  Exhausted.

*Get through customs.  We have 40 minutes until the plane leaves.  We still need boarding tickets. We also need to get luggage from Customs turnstile and re-check it in.  Can't wait to put the toddler in my beloved stroller.  Go to turnstile.  NONE OF OUR LUGGAGE IS THERE.  The stroller is missing as well.  I will not cry.  I will not cry.  I will not cry.  Fab Hubby says "Let's go.  We'll figure it out in Orlando."  Must.Get.Boarding.Passes.  Must.Get.To.Orlando.

*Ask for directions; show itinerary to nice airport worker.  She points us in the right direction.  Go to check-in.  WAIT.  We've been directed to United.  We fly U.S. Air.  AAARRRRGGGG!!!!!  Time to RUN.  Again.

*Navigate to U.S. Air.  Fab Hubby helps me find a quiet area where the kids can chill while he gets boarding passes.  Kids sit down on floor.  Instantly fall asleep.  Toddler, who we've been dragging along in his car seat (remember, our stroller never showed) is fast asleep.

*Finally get boarding pass.  There is an end to this nightmare!  Go through security.  Security dude looks at us.  Looks at our tickets.  "You folks know you have to get to Gate Very Far Away From Here, right?  You got, like 20 minutes."  Me (panicked):  "What?  It's not Gate Just As You Get Through Security?"  Security Dude:  "Nope.  If I were you, I'd flag down one of those golf carts as soon as you see one."

*Get through security.  Strap cranky monster toddler back into the Britax and we RUN, dragging our stuff, the toddler in the car seat, and the big kids.  Again.  Wow.  We were are headed to Gate Very Far Away.  I keep checking my watch.  Will we make it?!?!

*FINALLY arrive at Gate.  It really is the furthest from security.  But we have 5 minutes to spare!  Get our seats in back of plane.  Strap in kids.  Give Abby puke bag.  Kind person sitting in front of us gives us crackers for monster toddler (because at this point, I have extinguished all the snacks - and we never had a chance to buy any more between flights).  I instantly fall asleep.

And...we make it to Orlando.  Finally!  File for our luggage.  U.S. Air gives us temporary stroller and toothbrushes.  Which at this point, are the essentials.  Pick up rental car.  Find timeshare condo.  Get food at Seven Eleven (hot dogs) and some Mexican Food stand (delicious).

We all slept in late the next day.  Exhausted.  And then it took another 24 hours until our luggage arrived and 72 hours until the stroller materialized.  But it all did, and in perfect condition.

Now, what about our vacation??!!!  Well, that's definitely another blog entry(s).  But I'll give you a hint...(It's awesome!  Especially considering the crap it took for us to get here)...

See?  Awesome.


  1. Oh honey. I have so been there. And I'm right behind you - we leave in a few days. Everyone keeps asking if I'm looking forward to R&R, but honestly, I'm just dreading the flight.

    Enjoy every moment of your holiday.

  2. What an AWFUL story! I'm getting stressed just reading it. Have a good time on your R&R. You definitely earned it.

  3. Sigh, I have gained a few white hairs just reading that, but I also laughed so hard. what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I hope you have the best vacation ever after that experience!

  4. Oh god. That is really one for the books. But yes, we've been there too, in another form. My favorite was the time I took the two kids, at that time were 1.5 & 3 by myself from Adana, Turkey to LA. This is a 33 hour journey. We FINALLY land in LA after no one has slept more than 2-3 hours, and in the doorway of the aircraft, my daughter lays down and has a full on screaming, kicking temper tantrum so no one could get off plane. Took a few people to pick her up and just move her out of the way so people could pass. That was the point at which I cried. But now, just a few years later, they are SOO much easier to travel with. pros in fact. enjoy your vacation and good luck finding the ipad.

  5. We've had some rough trips (Muffin booked as both a lap baby and an unaccompanied minor -- as a one-year-old -- when she was supposed to have her own ticket, accompanied by me; then on the same trip she was routed through Miami while I was routed through Chicago -- stood in line for 2 hours to get the booking fixed, just to have the flight they finally put both of us on canceled anyway), but nothing like that! Glad you all finally made it and hope the vacation is relaxing now!

  6. Yey, for getting to FL with all your stuff (ultimately) and no one seriously injured. Do enjoy your well-deserved R&R. I was you a month ago (except I didn't have a 9-yr old and a husband with me). I also had a 55 min layover(20 mins of which were spent waiting for my gate-checked stroller) and did the running through security and the trying to find our gate before our flight took off. To top it off, they didn't do sleeves for our flights that day, so I had to fold the stroller and lug it together with the toddler and most of our carry-ons up and down stairs and in and out of buses (so annoying). I think I probably lost a couple pounds just sweating and stressing that day but gained it back and then some by routinely overeating for a month at our destination.

  7. OMG! What a nightmare. I have been there. Once it took us two days to get home, dragging baby and toddler all the way down to the southern cone of south america. What memories! Thanks for sharing your story. I applaud you and your ability to inject humor into a painful ordeal. :)

  8. Oh - I hate flights like that!! Glad you made it safely and are getting to enjoy some time in the US for a while!

  9. I have been on a few flights with young kids that turned out horribly. Nothing like 6 to 10 hour delays, red-eye flights, no food on the plane, customs....oh the fun!

  10. oh my goodness i can't even imagine how you made it through. you are amazing!

  11. WOW. THAT is a travel adventure for the records. Why isn't there a contest for FS R&R travel stories somewhere -- yours would truly qualify for a free upgrade and overnight at a connecting destination. Glad you are all safely there, important things have caught up with you and your are still sane enough to write it all down and share. And have a wonderful and restful R&R!

  12. Oh wow, I need a nap after reading that!