This past weekend we took our first trip as a family of four. We ventured down to Disney World (my home away from home), where we met my mother and stayed for 4 days and 3 nights. We had a wonderful time, but it was one of those "vacations" that felt like more work than actual vacation. I guess that is what happens when you have kids and vacations are all about keeping them entertained! As I got a taste for what our family trips will be like for the unforeseeable future I took many a mental note that I wanted to share with you all.
1. I will not be able to travel alone with my two girls for a long time. M and I took many flights/vacations together in her first 2.5 years of life. She is a great kid to travel with - very low maintenance, well behaved and up for an adventure. Plus you stick her in front of an iPad and she will entertain herself for hours, which makes flying very easy on the parents! Enter Val, who is a very easy going baby these days, but requires (of course) a second set of hands on her at all times, and about two extra carry-ons. Traveling with two kids in tow is NO JOKE. There is no way I could have done it without my husbands help. At least for the next couple years I will not be able to travel with the kids alone!
2. I have some pretty well-behaved kids. Everyone thinks their kids are well-behaved (well most people do) but my kids really are damn good kids. Maybe they get it from their easy-going father, or maybe because I don't put up with the BS, but whatever the case, they are great kids (yes I know Val is only 4 months old, but still she is awesome compared to other 4 month olds - haha). Compared to some of the kids we saw at Disney World, they are angels. I saw kids having fits like I have never seen before. I heard kids talking to their parents in a way that if I ever talked to my parents that way (even today) I would have gotten slapped. I had kids run into me (while carrying Val) and not say excuse me (we are already teaching M to say this at the young age of 3). There were kids climbing all over restaurants during dinner, while their parents sat there and let them run amok. There was some pretty terrible behavior, which made me proud to have a very well behaved 3 year old holding my hand.
3. A double stroller is a blessing and a curse. I went back and forth with the decision to bring or not to bring our big double stroller (the City Mini GT). We have used it about 3 times since purchasing it in August, and I wanted to get some use out of it, but it is big and cumbersome when folded. I ultimately decided to bring it, and I am so glad I did! It was great to have for naps. When we needed to get somewhere quickly we threw the kids in it and ran. If one of the kids weren't in it, we put our heavy bags in the empty side. The only issue we ran into was when traveling on the bus to and from the Magic Kingdom from the Yacht Club Resort. There is no place to put it, especially when the bus is full. PS. You will get dirty looks from everyone on the bus (or public transportation wherever you may be traveling) when they see you carrying that wide load so prepare yourself.
4. Bring at least four outfits for each kid for each day. I packed as if we weren't able to do laundry, because doing laundry at a hotel is a pain in the balls. My husband thought I was crazy for packing so much, but the girls wore all but two or three things that I packed. Val had multiple blow outs and would need at least one clothing change during the day. M spilled on herself many times and needed at least one change of clothing while we were at the parks. And then we would change for the night time too, and someone would get dirty and need to be changed again. Do yourself a favor and pack a few extra outfits in a ziploc and put it in the bottom of the stroller - no matter where you are!
5. Regular diapers are not a substitue for swim diapers. Yes, I know this is common sense. M is still in diapers (another post on our potty training woes to come) and Mama forget to pack her swim diapers so when she was begging to go swimming I decided to just put a clean diaper on her and let her go in the pool. Boy did we get a laugh when she came out of the water and her diaper was totally full and sagging down to her boney little knees. Baby had back! So yes, don't try to substitute regular diapers for swim diapers - your kid will look ridiculous as ours did!
6. DISNEY TIP: Get to the parks when they open, but don't head right for the popular ride: I always get to the parks right when they open but this trip I learned that we shouldn't head straight for the most popular ride right away. When we when to MGM (or Hollywood Studios as it is called now - it will always be MGM to me!) we followed the masses and went right to the Toy Story ride. We waited in line for about 30 minutes (the wait said 45 but it was shorter than that), and there was a huge line for Fast Passes right away. Well, when we got off the ride, there was hardly anyone in line for the ride!! If you avoid the initial rush to the popular ride and come back to it about 45 minutes after the park opens you might find a much shorter stand by line. That is my Disney tip of the day.
7. Extra Leg Room is worth the extra money. We fly Jet Blue 99% of the time we travel. Because my husband is almost 7 feet tall, we need to get the Extra Leg Room seats. To book these you pay an additional fee of $35-$45 (depending on time of year and destination) per seat, per leg of trip. Let me tell you, it is worth every penny because now when you buy Extra Leg Room, you get Extra Time! What is Extra Time? Well, you get to bypass the entire line at security and go to the front of the line. It is like a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. With two kids, and many carry-ons, plus a double stroller, this is a freaking blessing. We had such an early flight (6 AM) from Boston that there really wasn't a line to bypass, but in Orlando the security line was freaking madness, and with our Extra Time we saved about an hour of waiting in line with hundreds of other folks. Do yourself a favor, especially if you are traveling during a busy time of year, and book the extra leg room to get the Extra Time!
8. Learn to nurse with a baby carrier. I didn't want to miss out on anything, and didn't want to lose any time with having to nurse Val. I figured out my own comfortable way to nurse her while she was in the Ergo, so I was able to walk around (with hooter hider on) and nurse her without missing any of the action. What I did was just put her on her side, and put one strap of the Ergo on (the one by her bum side) and then cradle her head in my arm. That way I had one arm free, was still covered and comfortable and could walk around while nursing her. It might not be the recommended way to nurse in a baby carrier, but it worked for us! Of course there was that one moment that the hooter hider blew off her, and I hadn't realized she had detached and my naked boob was out for all to see in Epcot. Whatever. :)