My Stress-Free Travel Buddy

One on one travel with my littlest girl has been fun! In Munich I woke Ellie up after my shower, and she got up after only my second attempt at rousing her! Since we had a train to catch, I kept letting her know that we needed to watch our time. The night (or so) before while feeling happy about our trip, but also missing my oldest girl, I said a little prayer about paying attention to moments when stress turns me into a “mad mom.” And I started noticing. (And noticing the buttery ease of stress-free moments, too!) Between Ellie and me at the gemütlich hotel breakfast table, there was no rushing or scarfing down scalding coffee or Nutella rolls in one gulp and no grumbling nor complaining despite keeping an eye on the time for our next departure. It was pretty magical.

After scoring a tiny to-go Nutella to bring back home to big sister, we left our hotel to attempt a ride on the subway to the main train station. It’s pretty sweet the way a small child follows her parents blindly. In her small toddler voice, Ellie asked, “now what?” She’d board a rocket to the moon if I led her to it. We were standing under Marienplatz in the city center of Munich and I stared at the rainbow of zigzag lines on the subway map. “None of these go to the Hauptbahnhof,” I said out loud. We’d have to take the street car. And we’d have to take the correct one! I know myself well enough to know that I am not the world’s best navigator. I’d likely get on the street car heading in the wrong direction. That’s an easy problem to fix, but today we didn’t have time for all that.

“Guess what?!” I said to Ellie in a cheery voice. (My husband will not believe that I have a cheery travel voice.) “We are going to take a taxi to the train station!” “Yay!” she exclaimed as she grabbed hold of our roller suitcase and clickety-clacked it over the cobblestones back toward our hotel. Luckily we found a taxi stand before we had to arrive at our hotel and either A) admit our inability to find the right subway or B) suggest that they gave us poor instructions. Did they say streetcar or subway anyway?!

I imagine if I had been leading both of my kids or both kids along with the hubs, the stress would’ve risen pretty fast. There would have been discussion of “well, which subway train? Which route? Which fare? What did the hotel lady say? Why weren’t you listening?” Plus extra baggage to carry. Literally. It’s probably often simply a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen scenario that gets me so worked up. I am very easily oversensitized, after all. There’s no one to blame for our usual Griswold moments but it is interesting to observe the difference between whole family and half family travel and related stress (or lack thereof!)

My little pint-sized traveler has been so good for my mental health! Like a train conductor, she is always on board. Of course she has complained a few times. But without complaints in stereo, it’s easier to manage. Her legs had been “too tired to walk” to the Hofbräuhaus. And I was hell-bent on getting there quickly so she could rest in the hotel afterward. I squatted down to let her have a piggy back ride and we galloped the last two blocks to that beautiful HB sign beckoning me! Sure, I was on a traveler’s high, but I wonder if I can keep these “fix it with ease” trouble shoots in mind as we head back to the real world, the one with four cooks in the kitchen.

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