Chuck’s humblest apologies, dear readers, for the lack of activity last week, but Chuck was on the road. Many of you will be choking on your skinny latte at that weak excuse since Chuck’s other role as a successful businessman sees him travelling frequently yet he makes the time to dish advice on a regular basis. The difference on this trip was that Chuck was travelling in a new capacity – father; and fuck Chuck drunk, it’s not easy.
A couple of key points to consider before Chuck moves on:
1) Mrs Long does the vast majority of the heavy lifting – early morning feeding and nappy changing in particular.
2) The spawn of Chuck is incredibly good natured.
You’d think that with the two above points in play, travelling with an infant would be a breeze but Chuck’s here to tell you that the logistics required to take a baby on a plane and to a holiday destination would make the preparations for the Olympic opening ceremony pale in comparison – put it this way, Chuck wasn’t calling in any of the Indian Commonwealth Games organisers for assistance.
What’s so hard you ask? Where the fuck should Chuck start? Typically you’re told to be 60 minutes early for domestic and 90 minutes for international flights. The moment you add an infant to this mix, you simply have to tack another 2 hours onto things. The first nightmare is the packing. Baby Chuck averages at least 4 outfits per day (mainly because Chuck and Mrs Long have made the bold decision to remove any clothing that has faeces, urine or vomit on it unlike other more contemporary parents: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/01/3027558.htm). So when travelling for 5 days, you’re talking 20 outfits right there. On top of this you have nappies, wipes, sleeping bags, hats and a whole range of other assorted goodies. Now Chuck is a chronic over-packer at the best of times but scoffed when he saw how much stuff Mrs Long set aside to take on the trip. Low and behold, the baby churned through the entire stash. Fuck knows why Brad and Angelina are on the road as much as they are with the piles of crap they’d have to lug around for their brood.
Despite the Spawn of Chuck being incredibly good-natured, her favourite things to do at 3 months of age in no particular order are: vomit, poo & wee. Oh and she loves to smile. She is so radically unpredictable on all of these things other than smiling that you cannot plan ahead. You can clean a monster turd, put a new nappy on, and redress her (and do not get Chuck started on the complexity of children’s clothing. Bugger child proof lids on medicine, they should wrap the drugs up in a baby one-piece night suit. The thing is like a fucking rubics cube) and not 3 minutes later comes the sound of her internal cappuccino machine as she bubbles up a fresh new turd. On both the departing and arriving flights, little Miss Long cooked up a steamer within 10 minutes of take off. Of course you could smell the stench seeping from her with no course of action possible until the seat belt sign went off.
The sheer volume of bodily fluid that comes out of an infant is shocking. Being moderately refined, Chuck and Mrs Long are loathe to leave her in her own dishcharges meaning countless hours are spent searching for baby change rooms so that she can be hosed down and repackaged.
Another critical thing to consider when flying with a baby is the pressure build up in her ears. The take offs and landings are obviously the critical part and if the baby’s ears don’t equalise, the poor little thing’s head will feel like exploding. Chuck was horrified when he realized he couldn’t just slip her a stick of gum and let her chew her way to equilibrium. No, Mrs Long had to perfectly time breastfeeding with take-offs and landing. Apparently the sucking action acts as a mechanism to relieve the pressure (Chuck will be sure to remember to suck on a titty the next time he needs to relieve some pressure). Unfortunately, if the plane is not on time or you have to taxi to a far runway, feeding times may not line up in which case a nipple has to be offered up for sacrifice so that the baby can suckle and avoid the dreaded ear ache.
Eating out is a massive challenge with a young child. Ordinarily, Chuck would just leave the baby in the hotel room and head out for a meal, but that’s been frowned upon heavily since a kid got nicked out of a room in Portugal. Option number 2 would be driving to the casino and leaving it in the car park but the holiday destination was casino-less. So with out a go-to plan, Chuck had to scout out restaurants that were deemed baby friendly. How did Chuck do that you ask? Well the obvious idea would be to go to a restaurant with no one in it, but an empty restaurant would suggest that either the food is terrible or their speciality is salmonella. Actually it was pretty simple, Chuck just walked in to the restaurant and asked if they had room for a pram. The tricky part is getting the child to sleep just as the mains arrive (or to have Mrs Long grab her and walk her outside until she fell asleep).
Probably the biggest challenge is stifling the baby’s cries once in the air. Chuck has been on plenty of flights with screaming babies and frankly it isn’t a great concern. However, the minute you have one of your own you suddenly become so worried that her cries are upsetting people that you actually consider smothering the baby’s face with a pillow (Chuck jokes, although the airline we were on didn’t supply pillows so it was never an option). Chuck isn’t really sure why you start to worry about how others perceive your baby’s cries, but at 2am Chuck will do anything to calm the baby so as not to disturb the next door neighbours (yeah the same neighbours who think nothing of having band practice at midnight or better yet, hold a Skype conversation without head phones on our front door step – fuck those fuckers!).
Seriously, no measure of good planning can totally equip you for the challenges you face when travelling with a baby. The upside to all of these challenges is that you get to take your baby on her first family holiday. Perhaps next time, Chuck will encourage Mrs Long to take some extra time and let her travel ahead with the baby.