Monday 9 March 2015

Pre-travel insomnia - PM styley

My bloggy mate Expat Mum has posted eloquently about Sunday Night Insomnia, here.  That's not a condition I generally suffer from, I have to admit, but I do know something of how it works because I think I suffer from Pre-Travel Insomnia.  Not a 'thing', you say?  Or at least, not a thing that bothers most people because generally, you only make a trip that might prompt it a couple of times a year?  And when do you travel it's all so exciting that you're willing to put up with a shorter night's sleep than usual?

Fair enough.  If I lived in the UK I would absolutely agree with you.  But living here even a weekend to catch up with family or friends requires a flight, so let me enlighten you, then, about one of the Expat First World Problems which I experience more often than I care to admit to...

It's the day before I - and invariably, the Boys - are due to travel.

I spend the afternoon whilst they are at school trying to get ahead of myself so that I don't spend until the small hours packing, in order to get to bed at a reasonable time and avoid complete exhaustion when the alarm bell rings at stupid o'clock the next morning.

I count out the requisite number of pants, socks, t-shirts, trousers, cuddlies and so on.  I do the same for my children. (Boo-boom.) I KNOW I'm supposed to get my kids to do their own packing but frankly I have little enough control over my life already without riding the roller-coaster of 'what do you mean you've run out of clean underwear?' on only Day 3 of a week-long stint away from home with no laundry facilities in sight.

I pile them all on my bed, along with the required toiletries and hair products.  (I'm relatively low-maintenance but a woman has to have some standards).

I pull out 2 medium-sized suitcases and pack them to the gunnels.

I pull out another suitcase to pack the excess (that wouldn't fit into the first two suitcases).

On doing a quick calculation of what groceries and other hard-to-get items I can pick up in our destination to bring back at the end of our trip, I put the first three suitcases away and pull out two larger suitcases.

I pack everything into the two larger suitcases and then realise there is no space for a) our soap bags or b) those groceries I plan to buy, so go back to the cupboard and pull out another (small) suitcase to put the soap bags into, which I can carry onto the plane.

I remember the no-liquids in carry-on baggage rule, and then unpack one of the larger bags so the soap bags can go in there (in the hold), and the pants and cuddlies get to travel in safety on the plan with us (priorities, priorities).

I pick up the Boys from school.

We come home, sort homework, eat dinner, and I give them strict instructions to sort out the electronic items they were reminded to charge yesterday, and put them into their backpacks.  They assure me that it's all taken care of so I potter about doing a last load of laundry and sorting out the fridge so it won't smell too revolting by the time we get back.

Shortly before bedtime, the Boys admit no charging actually took place, so we hunt around for enough plug points to charge their various pieces of electronic paraphernalia and I make a mental note to remember to remind them to pack them in the morning.

The Boys go to bed, and I give the completed luggage a once-over to make sure I've packed everything.

I remember the passports.

I realise I still have to print out the boarding passes.

It is now 9.30pm; we are leaving at 6.30am and there is NO WAY I am leaving the house without a shower in the morning, so I head for bed.

As I brush my teeth, I remember our travel first aid kit.  And the thermometer.  And the anti-histamines and the epi-pens.  (And yes, generally speaking all of these things are available at our destination but other parents will know that they are never needed when you happen to be passing a pharmacy, doctors' surgery or ER.  No, they are needed after dinner in an isolated restaurant when the chef has used the same spoon to dish out your children's vanilla ice-cream that he did the previous order of pistachio, or at 2am when you are in the middle of nowhere and your child is running a 39deg fever.  So better pack that Nurofen for Children, too, then).

I go downstairs, fetch the medicines etc, and realise that they will not fit into the suitcases.  I repack the suitcases.

It is now 10.30pm but by my estimation I'm still ahead of the game - just.

As I climb into bed, my mobile beeps; it's a text from Husband, who is - more often than not these days - meeting us at our destination.  Can I just throw a few pairs of boxer shorts, some socks, a couple of shirts, a pair of jeans and some shoes into the suitcase?

I look at the pile of luggage, and consider telling him to fuck off.

Then I put my dressing gown on, go back into the cupboard, unpack the small bag, and repack it's contents along with Husband's clothes, into a larger one.

It's 11.30pm by the time I climb back into bed and set the alarm for 5.45am.

At 12.45am I am still awake.  What have I forgotten?

I get out of bed and print off the boarding passes and stick them into my handbag with the passports.

I go back to bed before turning around at the bedroom door to go back downstairs to find and pack the Boys' electronics and various chargers into their back packs.  Because yes, they can do it themselves in the morning but if I don't do it now, I will just lie awake fretting about remembering to remind them and who needs that hassle?

I lie awake for another 15 minutes anyway, guilting myself out about not making my children independent enough.  It is now 1.30am.

Finally, I fall asleep, wake up as scheduled at stupid o'clock, get myself, the children, the luggage and the backpacks organised and into the taxi, before realising on the way to the airport that I have forgotten my own laptop charger and mobile phone charger.

And I'm too tired to care...


  1. This is just SO me too!

  2. In my case, my husband usually starts zipping up the cases and putting them at the door about half an hour before we're leaving. I mean what kind of stupid is that? Doesn't he know that that's THE time when I remember all the most crucial things.

  3. I can so relate to this, so thanks for the laughs! You can always get your own back with your lovely husband... I remember one holiday we had with my DH looking like he was from a religious sect as he'd forgotten to bring his casual shoes and I didn't remember either he only had his shiny black office shoes!
    Hope you had a good time when you got there!
    Wren x

  4. Oh this sounds so familiar! Over the years I've perfected getting last-minute jobs, not entirely related to our trip done last minute to add to the stress. To sort the packing I now work from a list that I create a week before & add things to remember. This does take out some stress. I meticulously tick items of as they are found and placed in the bag.

  5. Sounds horribly familiar - I have travelled a fair bit for work and I still spend the night before any flight angsting over packing, will my alarm go off etc

  6. Nappyvalleygirl11 March 2015 at 16:39

    I can definitely relate...and like Expat Mum, my husband also likes to take the cases away before I've finished packing....

  7. Givemeaplacetostand11 March 2015 at 17:38

    I just love the fact - aside from relating to the entire post - that you used the word 'gunnel' ...x


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