Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How to Plan the Perfect Family Vacation

How about we just stay home and hang out in our blow up pool for free?
I've been talked into taking a "vacation" with my family this summer.  I was probably slightly tipsy when the Hubster broached the subject, and in my altered state thought it sounded like a great idea, but now that I'm sober and figuring out all the logistics, I'm beginning to fear for my sanity.  I'm still recovering from the last trip I took with my kids over seven months ago.  In fact, I haven't even finished unpacking yet.

On the one hand, I'm incredibly grateful that we have the time and the financial resources to even consider traveling somewhere.  But on the other hand this means we have to travel...with our children.  Gone are the days of impulsive trips that involved throwing a string bikini and some birth control in a bag and catching the next flight to paradise.  Now everything has to be planned in detail, because I can tell you from experience that doing anything impulsively or last minute when children are involved only leads to sleepless nights and tantrums, from both children and parents.

Destination.  When you have little kids who are not yet capable of sitting still for longer than 14.5 seconds, you have to pick vacation destinations that aren't too far from home.  Hawaii is beautiful, but it's also 5-6 hours away by airplane, and until my children have the ability to entertain themselves and use the bathroom alone, I'd like to avoid any trips longer than two hours.  Sure, you can try drugging your offspring with Benadryl in the hopes that they'll sleep through the flight, but if your kids are like mine, and they get totally wired instead, then you'll get to enjoy five hours of your children using you and your fellow passengers as a jungle gym.  I'll just have to wait to take that trip to Italy I've been dreaming about until my children are, well, no longer children.

Air or land?  Traveling by plane is shitty enough these days when one is flying alone, but add two children with all their stuff and who like to make jokes about flying with power tools, and you've got a recipe for the flight from Hell.  Road trips sound fun, until you realize that you'll have to entertain your children the entire time.  Also, instead of listening to that awesome road trip playlist you made when you were single, you'll have to rock out to Baby Beluga and the Wheels on the Bus.  For the entire drive.  All while your children repeatedly kick your seat and ask "are we there yet?" every three minutes.

Accommodations.  I love a nice hotel room as much as the next gal, but I do not like having to share that hotel room with my kids.  I have a hard enough time getting my kids to sleep through the night at home, but expecting them to snooze peacefully in a roll away crib that I've locked in the closet or the bathroom is just delusional.  Not to mention that I have to bring so much crap with us whenever we're not sleeping at home - white noise machines, night lights, blankets, pillows - it takes a whole extra suitcase just for all the accoutrements my children need in order to sleep.  If I'm spending $500 a night to stay somewhere, I better be getting the best sleep of my entire freaking life, not jumping out of bed every 30 minutes to reassure my kids that there are no monsters hiding in the toilet.  

Food.  Children eat all the freaking time.  Once they finish a meal, they want a snack.  Then they want another snack, followed by a second meal, followed by another snack.  It's a vicious cycle of constantly preparing food and doing dishes.  Unless one can afford to spring for a suite (and we can't), hotel rooms do not have kitchens, which means you're constantly ordering room service or running to the snack bar for stuff for your kids.  Other than being a complete pain in the ass, this will also set you back practically $4000.  I'd rather just rent a house with a kitchen so that I can spend my vacation doing exactly what I do when we're at home: dishes.

Activities.  My ideal vacation involves reading books and eating delicious food, but unfortunately my children don't feel the same way.  They want me to play with them and swim with them and take them to places like the aquarium and the zoo.  I may dream of a food crawl through Portland, but unless the dishes being served are plain pasta and white cheese, my kids won't be participating.

Maybe we'll just take a staycation instead.  Sure, there won't be as many Instagram-worthy shots as there would be if we went to Cancun, but at least there's a chance my kids might sleep, and it's safe to drink the water.  And with all the money I'll be saving by not taking a trip, I can hire a babysitter to watch my kids while I go to the beach alone.  Now that's what I call a vacation.  

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