The First Christmas Away From Home

5289416958_53f1e0f953_zIn a few days, we’ll be packing up the kids and headed across the pond for Christmas break. I am alternately giddily excited and massively stressed about it, so if you’ll just indulge me, maybe writing about it will help.

Things I’m stressing about:


Our trip will involve not just airplane travel, but also lots of trains. So the last thing I want to do is worry about losing five suitcases. So we are limiting ourselves to one checked suitcase, one carry on suitcase, three kid-sized backpacks, and a grown-up backpack. That should be manageable on a train, right? One part of the trip will involve a train trip across the UK with me and the boys and a transfer in London that involves the Underground. Do you see why I’m stressing out now?

Not to mention I have to fit the clothes for three kids and two adults in the aforementioned luggage. AND it’s cold weather clothes so it’s all bigger.


At least we all now have the proper clothing. I went to have the boys try on their winter coats that they haven’t worn in two years (thanks to last year’s non-winter winter) only to find the sleeves at three-quarter length. Oh dear. My husband and I were similarly coatless, but now all five of us look like Michelin men in our puffy (but very warm) coats. Check!

But my bank account is crying at all of the winter gear I bought that we rarely need. Gloves, scarves, hats, long johns, boots. At least we’ll be toasty.


It’s weird. Ever since I started my current job three years ago, I’ve been flying quite a bit. But I’ve also found myself becoming more of a nervous flier. Coupled with the fact that I cannot sleep on airplanes, I’m not really looking forward to the 10 hours in the air each way. At least I know the boys will sleep. And they have their new iPods to keep them entertained. I’ll just spend the time staring at them or watching the entire run of Law and Order or something.

My camera

I’m actually considering not bringing my DSLR and this is causing grief but also relief. I did just get a new phone with a great camera, but it’s still not the same as my DSLR but do I really want to lug my DSLR around when I will also be dealing with a ton of luggage? I should be doing everything I can to lighten the load, right? Sigh. But my pictures … just won’t be the same. Decisions, decisions. I think I’ll just bring it. Or maybe not.


What are we going to do without our Zigster for two weeks? I know he’ll be well-loved at the home of the friend he’s staying with, but he will probably miss us a lot. That may sound a touch self-involved, but he cries when we walk to the library down the street. Hopefully he will be so spoiled he won’t even notice.

Our house

I’m not really worried about this. We have so much security (as well as great neighbors and lots of eyes on our house) that I can really cross this off my “stress about this” list.


The only stressful thing is remembering to say Happy Christmas instead of Merry Christmas. Well, except for presents. Of course everyone’s big present is “a trip to the UK at Christmastime” but c’mon, I need to have something for the boys to open, right? I’ll buy something really quaint over there. Like Ye Olde Video Game.

In spite of all of the stresses, there is so much to look forward to. Visits with friends. Introducing the boys to our favorite place on Earth. Maybe seeing snow?!?! Going to see the Harry Potter play in London (all by myself!) Pubs! Pimms! Harrods! The English countryside! And most of all, spending Christmas with friends, experiencing another culture’s traditions.

Happy Christmas! Any tips for traveling at the holidays?

Pam Kocke
My name is Pam, and I live in Algiers Point with my husband George and my identical triplets Linus, Oliver, and Miles. I work from home as a Happiness Engineer for Automattic. I enjoy reading and photography and sewing (and blogging!)


  1. My husband and I once traveled to Singapore and California for 10 days with only carry ons! In fact, I was prohibited to check a bag until we had our son. Here’s my trick to you for all that packing in so few suitcases… go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They make space saver bags in travel version so you don’t need a vacuum… you just zip it, roll it up to push the air out, and viola! You might be a whole lot less stressed about packing… maybe even ditching one of the bags! I used to get stressed about trains and subways with just me and my suitcase! Lol. Good luck and enjoy such a magical Christmas!

  2. I brought my son to France for six weeks included long flights and travel. Car seat was worth the hassle, snack and good bag a necessity but it will all be worth it in the end. Hope you have a great trip 🙂


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