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Take the Family › Leaving a Child at the Airport and Other Bloodcurdling Tales

Leaving a Child at the Airport and Other Bloodcurdling Tales

By TakeTheFamily
Tales on travelling with kidsTales on travelling with kids

It’s not a new story, but it’s remained in my mind for obvious reasons. In August 2008, a family boarded a plane from Israel to Paris with four children. Until the captain informed them after takeoff, they were oblivious to the fact that they’d left behind their fifth child, their 4-year-old daughter, at the airport. 

How could such a thing happen? Well, the reasons cited were that the parents had a lot of luggage (they were emigrating) and, running late for their flight, ended up sitting in different parts of the aircraft. Each assumed that the other one had the fifth child, who was brought to Paris on the next flight to be reunited with them.

As far as I’m concerned, unless I’m sitting in a dark corner with a large glass of wine to hand, three is the limit when it comes to the number of children I can cope with – in daily life but especially when travelling. I recognise that there are people who can go beyond this, but I do wonder how they manage on the road – and how they can even afford to travel. Even a weekend break requires a mammoth car if not a mini-bus, while hotel-room logistics become complicated and expensive, eating out must cost a bomb, and packing – God, packing must take forever. It’s enough to make you give up and stay at home.

Even with ‘only’ three kids, we’ve found that travelling becomes quite a bit trickier. This manifests itself in many ways but especially in accommodation. We technically can’t fit into many ‘family rooms’ and so need to pay for a second room – although I have to admit I do quite often book just one room and sneak in an extra child if I think we can get away with it and if I think we’ll be comfortable enough, or I ask for a travel cot when my youngest child really is too old but can still squeeze into one. Even in many self-catering apartments that can sleep up to five, we often find there’s only enough chairs, cutlery or so on for four of us.

As for the risk of losing a child or even ‘forgetting’ one when moving around, it is a concern, especially when I’m travelling on my own with the kids, which I do fairly frequently. My tip is to perform a simple head-count whenever decamping from one place to another, for instance from the lounge to the departure gate, or from the platform into the train. I also do this with our luggage – it’s senseless remembering what actual baggage you have, but a simple ‘One, two, three, four, five’ every time you leave a building, get into a taxi or whatever, serves as speedy reassurance that you have everything you left home with, human or otherwise.

Do you have a large family, and if so, what are your tips for coping on family holidays and breaks, from practicalities to keeping to a budget? 

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