Can it possibly be like we remember?

We’ve just about arrived at the “vacation” part of our summer vacation.  We leave this weekend to spend 2+ weeks in England, Scotland and Ireland.  Yes, we were there for 2 weeks less than a year ago, and we’re going back already.  We loved it that much.

I wonder, as I do anytime I go back to a place I’ve been before, if we’ll like it as much this time.  Was it a fluke, or was it really as fantastic as we remember?  After a night outside of London and an early flight the next morning to Edinburgh, we’ll actually drive back into England and spend 5 days in the Lake District, at the same place we stayed last year (it was so great last year that we just had to go back . . . and stay longer this time).  We’ll follow that with a night in Glasgow (which will be new to us) on our way to the coastal highlands (which we tried to visit last time, but we had to reroute that part of the trip due to illness).  Then we fly to Ireland, visiting both Northern Ireland and the Republic while we’re there, before flying back to London to spend a last day there before we come home.  I am really excited to go back to my absolutely favorite travel destinations so far.

Last year, when we were in England, we fell in love.  There wasn’t a single place we visited where we didn’t find something wonderful.  And then, astonishingly, we maybe even loved Ireland more.  (We loved Scotland, too, but we saw so little of it that I want to reserve judgement.)  We were lucky to have wonderful weather most of the time (an anomaly, I know) and to meet kind and welcoming people (who all spoke English, which, alone, was a treat for us) throughout our travels.  So, with amazing, picture-postcard-perfect memories like these, is it possible that it’s going to be as great this time around?

And then I pause for a moment and remember the other stuff that was also true of our trip.  I planned parts of it very poorly, and we ended up driving for hours (and hours and hours) in some cases (I think the worst day involved 11 hours of car and air travel).  We got a flat tire while we were in the Lake District, had to limp back to the hotel on the bad tire with both kids soaking wet in the backseat, and had to wait until the next day to have it fixed.  Both boys got horrible stomach illnesses.  They were sick in 3 different countries, 4 different hotels and 1 carLiam fell when we were at Edinburgh Castle and bonked his head and we spent the rest of that day in the Emergency Room.  Our hotel in York had NO HEAT even though it was COLD.  Our trip to the Giant’s Causeway was a disaster — the weather was terrible, the kids were miserable, we had to change a diaper outside, in the rain — I don’t think that trip could have been more traumatic if there had actually BEEN a giant in residence.

But, for all of that . . . *including* all of that, in some cases, partially BECAUSE of some of those things . . . it was my favorite trip that we’ve taken since we’ve been abroad.  (Well, it was my favorite destination(s) — having 2 of my sisters with us in Italy might have made that *trip* my favorite.)  Without blowing out our tire, we would never have had a warm, boisterous, a la carte dinner with our fellow travellers in the Lake District.  Without the kids being sick we would have spent even MORE time driving, and would have missed out on one of our favorite pieces of Scotland.  The stories and pictures from our miserable day at the Giant’s Causeway make me smile and laugh EVERY time I think of them.  We had a fantastic, wonderful, amazing, memorable, family trip, and it didn’t have to be even nearly perfect to be magical.

So, I don’t think we’re painting an overly rosy picture of our trip from last year — I think we just had a great time.  This trip won’t have to be perfect to be excellent, either.  I’ll be there with my most favorite people in the world, in some of my most favorite places in the world.  We’ve got less driving, less “stuff” to do, and more downtime planned.  We’re going back to some of our favorite places and trying out some of the ones we wish we’d seen last time.  (And, it’s also true that everyone still speaks English, so that’s still going to be a major plus again.)  I’m so excited to go back.


1261I’m kind of shocked to realize that this is my first post dedicated to Trunkis, the ride-on, pull-along, carry-on kid-functional suitcases we got for the boys last year.  It’s long overdue.

We first saw something like a Trunki once at the airport when dropping off a friend over a year ago.  A family on the opposite train platform was loading up two kids on two small, elephant-looking suitcases, which the parents then pulled along behind them.  I thought it was so fantastic that I took a few pictures of this completely unknown family.  Later, I asked around among my friends, and everyone kept saying they were “Trunkis” even though the ones I saw the first time were either by a different brand or a much older model.  When I finally found them online, they seemed too expensive, and my boys have backpacks and suitcases already, so I just let it go, but I never really forgot about it.

1271The next time we encountered such a thing (and the first time we “met” a real Trunki) was at London’s Luton airport during our trip to the UK last summer.  We went into one of those travel shops at the airport (I no longer remember why — I think Dan was looking for something) and they had a variety of Trunkis for sale . . . of course, all down at kid level.  B saw them and fell in love instantly.  He touched them, he wanted to open them, he wanted to ride on them.  I intended to say no, but since I’d been looking at them before, and they were actually cheaper in person (plus no shipping!) I decided to go for it.  Especially after the salesperson assured me they would 1549work as a carry on (even on EasyJet — and I told him that if they said no at the check-in counter, I was bringing it straight back).  We only got one, because we wanted to know if it would work, and initially, Liam wasn’t too disappointed, since he was mostly riding in the stroller.  B immediately climbed aboard and started doing laps up and down the check-in line.  He was hooked, and Liam was, very shortly thereafter, jealous.

008B’s Trunki worked great on that trip.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that it did, indeed, fit even EasyJet’s small allowance for carry-on luggage, and B’s other carry-on suitcase actually fit inside with a little room to spare.  After that trip, we decided Liam should have one, too, but we didn’t go back through Luton, and we didn’t find them anywhere else.  After we got back to Vienna, B decided he wanted to give Liam his very own new Trunki for his birthday just a few weeks later, so we went ahead and ordered one (which was a lot more expensive).

And the rest is history.  We’ve gotten quite fond of and attached to the Trunkis.  They have joined us on every trip since, and they’ve stood up to a ton of abuse from the kids.  After 6 months, 3 flights, 3 train trips and a road trip, we feel like we’ve broken them in and road tested them pretty well.  Here are the pros and cons that we’ve found so far:


  • 053They’re cute.  I don’t mind looking at them all the time.  I imagine they’d be super easy to spot coming around on the conveyor of checked bags (although we haven’t tried that yet).  And, unlike the many character-themed backpacks and suitcases, I don’t think the kids are likely to “grow out” of the Trunkis as quickly.
  • They’re sturdy.  Other than a bit of paint/decoration wear (very minimal) I’m truly impressed at how well these have stood up.  My kids use them every day around the house, not just on travel.  They sit on them, they ride on them, they climb on them (I wish they didn’t do that last part).  They open and close them on their own.  They’ve been kicked, knocked down, dragged and raced around the house.  And that’s in addition to be lugged on and off of trains, in and out of car trunks and into and out of overhead compartments.  These things are really well built.
  • 027They’re easy for the kids to use.  B has been able to open and close his since day 1, and Liam figured it out by the time he got to be about 2 1/2.  They can also be locked (the adjustable carrying strap has the “key” attached).  My boys use them around the house to store things (i.e., hide them from their brother) and it’s nice that they can access the inside on their own (although pinched fingers are a concern).  The boys can climb on an off when we’re using them as a ride on and can pull them along behind them with the carrying strap (although watch out for unaware people walking alongside — the boys aren’t great at watching exactly which direction the Trunki is going behind them and they could definitely take someone out).
  • 081They’re carry-on sized.  We’ve tried it, it’s really true.  They fit in the overhead bin and within the guideline for carry-on luggage.  They can be rolled down the aisle in the plane, too, and up the jetway with a child on top (which is especially nice since even gate-checked strollers are often not returned until baggage claim).  They also fit nicely behind the front seat in a car, right at the kids’ feet, so they can see “their stuff” in the car.  (Also makes kid stuff easily accessible, because  you don’t necessarily have to dig through the back/trunk . . . and if you do, a Trunki is distinctive and easy to find.)
  • 052They double as a ride-on.  On the way to the gate at the airport or to the train at the station, one of the kids (whichever one isn’t in the stroller) seems to always want to be held.  Being able to have them ride the Trunki is incredibly functional (although it does require some steering on the part of the passenger, and you have to watch out for people walking nearby).  Also, when waiting in line (which is a lot when you travel) the Trunki provides a seat that isn’t just on the floor.  Whenever the kids get tired of standing, they can always sit on the Trunki instead.
  • 001Convenient for packing.  You can fit a lot of stuff in a Trunki.  We have managed to basically pack the boys entire clothing and such for a week (not including diapers) in their Trunkis.  With winter clothes, B is just starting to run out of room.  It’s nice to have the kids’ stuff separated — especially when in comes to finding things like socks and keeping track of what belongs to which child.  (Are these Benjamin’s gray socks or Liam’s?  Whose blue fleece is this?)


  • They can get clunky.  Empty, they’re light and easy to move around.  Full, they can get heavy, especially when carrying it with the shoulder strap (or carrying two!) while pulling a piece of rolling luggage or pushing a stroller.  Also, because they’re hard and not squishable, they don’t fit easily into the bottom of a stroller.  The only option is to carry it or pull it.  They’re not ideal if you have a long way to walk and it will be in a place where you can’t or don’t want the kids to ride or pull it.
  • 004They’re expensive.  I don’t remember how much we paid for the one we bought at the airport, but the one we ordered was £38.  (Of course, it doesn’t help that Benjamin chose the limited edition, most expensive version to get for Liam’s birthday, and that we had to have it shipped from the UK, which cost even more.)
  • They become essential.  Now that we have them, there’s little hope of travelling without them.  The boys are set on bringing them everywhere.  So, even when we take short weekend trips where we might not have packed separate suitcases for the kids, the Trunkis are GOING to be coming with us.  So, we’ve now put ourselves in a situation where we are taking at least 3 bags with us (2 Trunkis, 1 backpack or suitcase for grownups) wherever we go, no matter what.

Overall, we love them.  They aren’t the only functional solution to luggage for kids, but they’re pretty great, and we’re glad we have ours.


(Also, in case anyone wonders, this is in no way a sponsored post.  I received nothing from Trunki, nor from anyone else, at any point.  This is just my opinion.)