We just came back from a huge road trip (over 1200 miles each way) with our family to and from Orlando, Florida where we visited Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios followed by Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure. Last month, I blogged about how excited I was about this trip because I was finally going to be reunited with my parents. In reflection, we had an amazing time in the process of traveling to and from Florida by car; by experiencing a break from reality in the worlds of these awesome amusement parks; and by spending much-needed time with my family.
In the process of making the journey and experiencing the destination, I learned some great lessons:
- DVD players and headphones are great for kids during long trips. What a lifesaver it was to have movies in the car. Prior to the trip, we made sure the kids agreed on which DVDs they selected. During the car ride, the children worked great together in deciding which video to watch next. This truly kept them entertained for the car ride. We did not allow them to watch videos for an hour after they ate to prevent car-sickness. I definitely would have enjoyed road trips much more as a kid if we could watch movies in the car.
- Being in the car with my husband for all those hours gave us time to talk. Given we are so busy all of the time trying to get it all done, it was very nice to have each other’s undivided attention.
- It is good for the kids to see their parents have fun. With the busy schedules we all keep, and after the difficult winter we had, it was great to let loose and focus on having fun with our children.
- Amusement parks are so much more fun when we are in shape. Jed and I spent a week of our honeymoon in Disney when we (as a couple) were 120 pounds heavier. I noticed a huge difference in how much better it felt to experience the parks being 70 pounds lighter. A notable difference was being able to walk through turnstiles without having to turn side-ways.
- Roller coasters make a great abdominal workout. When I rode the coasters, I concentrated on keeping my core tight during the entire ride, while sitting up straight. This also prevented my back issues from emerging.
- Our kids are great! Both kids were very well-behaved and great listeners through the entire trip, for the most part. They slept well in the car, and they were able to handle waiting in lines at the amusement parks. Of course, my children’s eyes widened every time an attraction led us to a store, but they did not argue when we set limits. We allowed them to pick out a few souvenirs along the way.
- Grandparents are awesome. The kids had a blast with their grandparents, and it was great to see them enjoy the magic of the parks.
- There is nothing like watching a child see something magical. During many of the attractions, it was more fun watching my children’s faces. When my daughter was in the Frozen sing-along show, my husband and I could not keep our eyes off of her because the expressions on her face were priceless. She was definitely overwhelmed the first time she met real princesses.
- Never say “OK” to a “smoking” hotel room. On our return trip, it was 1:00 a.m. and we were in the middle of nowhere in Staunton, Virginia and we were getting tired. The first hotel I tried had no vacancies and the second place we tried only had a “smoking room”. When we arrived, the room reeked of smoke. Thankfully, we had strong air sanitizer in the car, and there was a window I was able to open in the room. After assessing that the sheets were freshly laundered, we ended up getting a great night’s sleep and a hot shower before continuing on our journey. Lesson learned though.
- It was such a great idea to visit friends on our journey home. On our way back, we strategically planned a friend tour as we stopped in South Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey. In addition to reconnecting with old and new friends, we got to meet service dogs, puppies, and sheep. I loved reconnecting with friends I grew up with and who I have not seen in many years. The best part is my children bonded with their children instantaneously. Plus, we were able to visit a sheep farm, touch freshly sheered wool, and feed the animals.
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- There is no place like home. As we got closer to home, all of us were so excited to sleep in our own beds again. While we had a blast on our vacation, everyone was ready to be back home.
When I returned to work, I felt as if I really got a break. Taking vacations is an important part of balancing our lives. I am very thankful for the fact we made it home with no major incidents, and I was able to reflect on this experience. My children are already talking about what they want to do the next time they go to Disney. Here we go!