Monday, July 23, 2012

Reflections on the thrill of traveling abroad with a toddler

As of now I am knee deep in surveys, manuscripts, deadlines and diapers…

I am stoked to read about all of your experiences abroad (and live vicariously through your posts) since my international traveling for this summer has come to an end.  

My vacation to Italy with the family was definitely filled with plenty of adventures as any trip with a two year undoubtedly is.  As with any mom my most memorable experiences almost always revolve around my daughter Elizabeth since I am consistently viewing the world through her eyes (even if that means carefully investigating the pattern on the floor of the Sistine Chapel or chasing pigeons in the Piazza di San Marco).

The adventure of traveling with a toddler begins at the airport when you are lugging around a 50 pound bag, car seat, 3 carry ons and a stroller (trust me I did leave some of my belonging behind).  The same nightmare of traveling with so much luggage gets worse when you are train hopping from one town to another.  If I had really known what I was in for I would have left the car seat, toys, stuffed animals, books, baby carriers, and backpacks behind but you live and learn.  We almost lost limbs jumping from trains for forgotten strollers or from carrying 100 pounds of luggage up countless flights of stairs. 

Other than the issue of getting from one train, bus or airplane to another is the treasure of what Elizabeth now refers to as being STUCK.  Sometimes being stuck can be pleasant but other times it can be a nightmare.  Tantrums, tears, kicks and hair pulling (not just my hair but the lucky passengers in front of us) were some of Lizzy’s less welcomed reactions.  Of course once Elizabeth would fall asleep long trips become utterly boring.  While on the train Elizabeth would take to singing songs about the people who were sleeping, playing with other passengers, smelling her own feet and asking others to do the same, and she managed to make friends with every Italian women within her proximity.

Italian women, and men for that matter, were very much taken with Elizabeth.  She was offered hugs, compliments, candy, food and toys (one kind woman shared her entire lunch which Elizabeth, sandwich, fruit, water and all).  So if any of you need to conduct interviews or surveys in Italy you might want to take Elizabeth along because she has a way of catching people’s attention with her cuteness. 

Our adventure came to its peak at the end of our trip when we were in Rome and Elizabeth woke up with PINK EYE!  She was absolutely miserable and I at least thought that it was going to be a long, frustrating and stressful day figuring out the Italian healthcare system in order to get her some antibacterial drops.  To my surprise however, the most stressful, dangerous and costly part of our day was the few taxi rides that is took to get the eye drops (I literally thanked God that I was alive every time I stepped out of a taxi cab or crossed the street in Rome). 

So here is a breakdown of our day.  We woke up and Lizzy had a puffy and goopy right eye.  We were directed to an urgent care down the block which then referred us to the Children’s Hospital.  We jumped in a cab and were dropped at the door of the emergency room (tourists often have to go through the emergency room when they’re abroad to get care even for the simplest things).  The receptionist took down some background information and asked as to wait for our number to be called.  I was surprised that she didn’t ask for any insurance information whatsoever but figured they would handle it later.  We sat down expecting to wait for hours but within 10 minutes our number was called and we were ushered into a clean and well stocked room with two kind health professionals who cleaned Elizabeth’s eye and prescribed her some drops to clear up the infection.  In another five minutes I had the prescription and directions to the nearest pharmacy and I was told I could leave without doing any paperwork.  I was stunned as every mom in the U.S. who pays for private health insurance and is still slapped with hundreds of dollars of medical bills for well-baby visits would be. 

While the pharmacy was out of the original prescription and Lizzy took drops that she ended up being allergic to, we eventually got a prescription that cleared everything up.  The (usually expensive) antibiotic was only $7.  I am still dealing with my envy of the Italian healthcare system as you can see. 

Our trip was full of adventures and learning experiences.  Now that I am back I am trying to deal with being home and diving into my research full gear.  I have been distributing surveys in Oxnard and working on pinning down all my backgrounds research and multiple IRB applications before I can start looking for interviewees.  I want more adventure but it is office work for me over the next few days. 

I will be checking this blog hoping to learn about all of your awesome experiences! Can’t wait!


1 comment:

  1. Hello Kaitlyn!
    It's wonderful reading your trials, tribulations and victories in Italy with your enchanting daughter. Keep us updated!