Travelling on our family summer holiday this year was met with some trepidation on behalf of my husband and I. We have two children, James 6 years old and Lucy 3 and a half years old. You see last year it was tough going, Lucy is a very willful and energetic toddler and controlling her in the airport and on the airplane was stressful. Not to mention the fact we were the last family to board the plane last year, following a traffic jam en route which added to the pressure.
I don't know about you, but I like to enjoy the build-up to the holiday, from packing my own and the children's suitcases weeks in advance to enjoying some lunch or dinner at the airport where really the holiday starts for me. Of course, the whole airport experience pre and post children, including the seemingly simple task of just getting there, are now poles apart. This year however, I vowed to start my preparations early to get ahead of the game - fail to prepare, prepare to fail, and all that.
It started with the download of a couple of apps to my smartphone, 4 weeks ahead of time. The first was the Dublin Airport app so that I could book my car parking and the second was my airline's app so that I could check-in online. Everything went according to plan, and I was pleasantly surprised that the parking was so reasonable, less than the cost of a return taxi fare and the same cost as a private coach transfer.
Our flight was at lunchtime but we wanted to be there around 2 and a half to 3 hours before departure so that we could relax and enjoy the airport experience - the kids love watching the planes! So with this in mind it was an early morning start from our home, so to make things easier we packed the luggage into the car the night before - one less thing to worry about. The trip down the M50 was straightforward and Lucy even napped for 30 minutes so that was a relief, she still tires easily and the excitement wore her out I think. Finding the carpark was easy, even though it was the new Express Green car park - it was well signposted and the transfer time from the waiting shuttle bus was less than 5 minutes.
We dropped our luggage off and headed through security in no time at all, the family lanes coupled with the Fast Track additional service I'd booked through the Dublin Airport app made for a speedy entrance to the duty free shopping in The Loop and range of restaurants to choose from.
We opted for a 'Family Meal Deal' in one of the restaurants, which was great value and offered a wide choice of wholesome food. There was a young children's play area right beside our restaurant where James and Lucy played with an interactive touch screen airport game on a large screen amongst other activities to keep them entertained. We didn't spot the flight simulator ride until we were leaving to go and do a little shopping, but I think it was the highlight of the airport for James, he just loved it. Lucy had spotted The Candy Store when we came through security first and I promised her some sucky sweets for the airplane so that was next on the agenda, although there was so many bright coloured sweets to choose from she found it very difficult to pick just one!
I picked up some stylish sunglasses for the holiday and my husband got some gorgeous aftershave and we were done. A text alert came through to my phone shortly after reminding me of our boarding gate and we headed straight there so that we could relax and look at the planes taking off and landing. A short walk later and we were in prime position for boarding the aircraft. At this point I switched over my phone to the free Dublin Airport wifi and did a few social media status updates before checking my email and turning on my "out of office" auto responder.
Boarding the flight was straightforward this year thankfully, and I breathed a big sigh of relief when we took to the skies knowing that my car was safely parked close to the terminal for our return flight which would come in very late at night.