These were a few of my concerns: surviving a 12 1/2 hour transatlantic flight (keeping baby, and therefore fellow passengers, happy); baby jet lag (because he's already such a good sleeper...why not change his clock by 8 hours for a few weeks and then switch it again!); diet and subsequent breast milk change for my reflux baby; getting good naps on group travel days; being a good boy on the bus with the group; and so on...
So far, the the drives to and from airports have turned out to be the hardest part. And I didn't even have time to worry about those as much.
You know those babies who sleep in their carseats? We didn't get one of those. We got the kind convinced the carseat is some form of cruel and unusual punishment. After SCREAMING, crying, getting so upset he'd throw up and choke (hence yet another stop) we FINALLY made it to the Houston airport - the 3 1/2 hour journey taking only 5 hours since we had to just keep driving through the screams. I was sure Samuel would have permanent throat damage. I'm quite certain that I am scarred for life. We've had similar car rides throughout his life, but that one was pretty much the worst experience ever.
We pulled in to Avis to return the car and must have looked as haggard as we felt because they swiftly offered us a free valet to the curb for check in. We were just about the last to board - but we made it. Whew.
The good news - we were flying Turkish Airlines. For once, we didn't go with the cheapest ticket, but paid slightly more to fly Turkish for their extra conveniences and better itinerary. International airlines such as Turkish are still offering far more conveniences than US based airlines that are still making cuts. So. Worth. It.
They automatically reserved bulkhead seating and a bassinet for us, so Samuel was able to get off of my lap every once in a while. My circulation greatly appreciated this. The food and service were fantastic as always. Samuel slept almost the entire flight, waking only briefly every other hour or so for food and snuggles when the other flight children were throwing fits. Airplanes have built in white noise and rocking motions (aka turbulence) that worked for him. Our kid was the cute, quiet one who smiled at everyone. It only felt slightly misrepresentative after the car ride of terror. And we were fine with that.
Of all the things for them to misplace. Looong story short, a few hours, and a pathetic loaner car seat later - we were on the road to Jerusalem. Samuel resumed his hysterical frustration with car seats, only this time I agreed with him. That loaner was awful, with a nice scent of who knows who's perfume. We arrived at our hotel in Jerusalem after midnight. I've never been so happy to be in that city. Samuel was thrilled as well.
The next day we transitioned to Bethlehem where we'd stay for six nights, the first two before the group flew in. We were welcomed in high fashion by hotel managers and staff who remembered us. On Saturday night we were treated to dinner by good friends with great food. We were flooded by the hospitality common to this region all over again, and suddenly everything felt worth it.