A Personal Experience; Mom, Pilot, and Expat

As a global brand, JetKids are familiar with traveling, studying, living, and working abroad. We experience and live our lives differently and it is only natural that we have different approaches to this as well. We interviewed Iris De Kan(@mumazed) about her experience living life while traveling.

Iris De Kan(@mumazed) together with her beautiful girl, Kiki, shares so many inspirational stories and pictures in her channels regularly. We love her style, her house, and the way she makes being an airline captain, living abroad, and being a mom, look so effortless. Is it this easy? And what is the trick? We asked her.

Airline Captain Iris de Kan and her daugther Kiki

JetKids: Tell us a bit about yourself, Iris.

Iris: ”I’m a 33-year-old Dutch airline pilot, currently living in the UK. My daughter, Kiki, is the absolute love of my life. Our family bought a farm last year and are loving the English countryside very much. Next to my job, I love walking around the fields with Kiki, cooking, singing (mostly Frozen songs at the moment), and knitting. My party years are long behind me, but I love the slow life we are living and wouldn’t want to change it for anything.”

I work to live, not live to work. No matter how much I love my job, family always comes first.

JetKids: As a commercial airline pilot, how has the journey living abroad been for you?

Iris: My job has brought me to many countries over the past 14 years. At age 19, flying school brought me to Portugal for a year, near Lisbon. After returning to The Netherlands to apply for a job I quickly got hired and moved to Sitges, Spain.

JetKids: Looking back, is there anywhere you wished you stayed longer or left sooner?

Iris: Sitges was a truly wonderful place to live and it is the only place I wished I could have stayed longer. Looking back now, I can say that it was long enough and it was indeed time to move on. I believe I was in a place in my life that fitted my surroundings; young, free, and enjoying myself.
The wonderful food, weather, people, and vibe.A Personal Experience; Mom, Pilot, and Expat

When I moved to Greece for my second job, I was hoping to find the same thing, but that never happened. I stayed for almost five years because I enjoyed the challenges my job brought and didn’t want to leave unless I found something good with the possibility of a long-term future. However, personally, I was quite unhappy. Greece is a wonderful country with wonderful people but it is not a country where I would ever want to live again. From there, I found my current job and moved to the UK. Six years on now, I am proud to say I couldn’t be happier. I met my fiancé and we have a beautiful daughter… I don’t think I will ever leave.

JetKids: How do you keep in touch with your family while living abroad? Do you travel a lot in your free time?

Iris: My family is so important to me and so is keeping in touch with them. My parents and my sister live near Amsterdam, however, during the current situation I’m no going to visit as much as I would like. We Facetime every day and because of that, we couldn’t be closer. It’s important Kiki has a strong bond with them and that bond is more than just strong.

The plan is to travel more in our spare time, but we will see. We live day by day and never really took more than a month ahead.

A Personal Experience; Mom, Pilot, and Expat
A Personal Experience; Mom, Pilot, and Expat

JetKids: Are there any traditions from your homeland that you share with your daughter? Are they a big part of your life away from home?

Iris: I’m fond of traditions and find it important that Kiki gets to know all of them, cherish them, and pass them on to her children one day. Next to the British traditions we teach her, there are may Dutch traditions too. From making birthday hats, to Dutch rhymes and songs, she hears them every day. I read to her in Dutch and make sure she watches Dutch cartoons. At Christmas, we celebrate ‘Sinterklaas’ and cook Dutch food for her. These traditions are treasures that enrich her life, just like they did mine.

JetKids: JetKids can relate to traveling back and forth to visit family and friends and it almost feels like we need a vacation after the vacation. Can you relate to this?

Iris: Oh absolutely! One of the most difficult things when being home; everyone wants to meet, see you, have lunch and dinner. At the end of the day, I mostly just spend time with family. It isn’t always easy but I just can’t split myself in two. I have to make choices and I never regret anything.

JetKids: How many different languages does your daughter speak? Do you work on adding more?

Iris: I find it so important that Kiki speaks Dutch next to English. I always try to speak Dutch to her and she fully understands it, but often replies in English. When she starts school, I want her to have Dutch lessons to ensure she can read and write. We have this language ‘given’ to us for free, so why not make sure she is 100% fluent. I’m understandable in English, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, and Greek. For Kiki, we focus on Dutch and English for now. When she is older it will then be so much easier to learn a different language.

JetKids: Can you share some TOP 3 tips you think we all should know when traveling with/without small kids?

Iris: Yes!

  1. ALWAYS BRING FOOD AND DRINK FOR YOU KIDS!!! The amount of times I gave my food away to desperate parents is insane. Sometimes things happen and suddenly you are stuck on an airplane for three hours without it being catered.
  2. Let your kids suck on something during climb an descent. It can hurt their ears and sometimes they are just too young to tell you.
  3. Don’t drink gassy drinks on an airplane unless you are ok with getting gassy yourself.
A Personal Experience; Mom, Pilot, and Expat
A Personal Experience; Mom, Pilot, and Expat

JetKids: As an airline crew member and insider, can you give us some facts about airline travel?

Iris: A fact some people forget; crew are people too. We often have families of our own and we want everything to be safe, even more than you. We also completely understand if and when you are a bit anxious.

JetKids: What is the weirdest assumption you’ve experienced in your industry? 

Iris: Once I went to the bathroom during the flight and an elderly man was queuing in front of me. He looked at me and said “oh, so there are three of you!” I asked him what he meant and his answer? “Well, the pilots and you!”

I almost peed my pants that female pilots are out of the ordinary. Fortunately, I don’t take people’s assumptions as an insult, they’re just funny.

JetKids:  Are there pros to traveling on your own and being away from the family from time to time?

Iris: Luckily I’m hardly away for more than 13 hours but when I do have a night stop a big PRO is silence. During work hours I am the final authority; the buck stops with me. But once I close that big door behind me I enjoy not hearing “mama, mama, mama” or “captain…” all the time. Before I have a chance to start missing them, I’m back home… A perfect balance.

JetKids: Be honest: are the management responsibilities as an airline captain any different than being a mom? (Asking for a friend)

Iris: Hahaha good one! Well… in some ways, it is the same. The big difference is when I mess up as a mom, I can always point the finger at dad. At work, I get all those fingers pointed at me.

JetKids:  Do you ever get tired of traveling?

Iris: No! I love it. Every single bone in my body loves it.

JetKids: When looking forward and dreaming about the future, where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Iris: Hopefully with a total of two kids, but exactly where and what I’m doing today. I’m really happy with everything as it is.

A Personal Experience; Mom, Pilot, and Expat
A Personal Experience; Mom, Pilot, and Expat

JetKids has mission to support traveling with children and creating a more positive experience for parents. Our products reflect this and we always take the opportunity to learn more from families on the road, rail or air. While Iris’ story is specific, whether you are a parent, relative or friend, enabling kids to travel is an experience we want to be a part of with you.

What is YOUR story? we would love to read about it! 
Share your JetKids adventures with us by tagging @jetkidscom and #jetkidsbystokke.

Safe travels,