Vacationing with a family is loads of fun! Right? Otherwise, why would we put ourselves through it? But having a successful vacation also requires a lot of work and planning.
It was important to us to take a trip as a family this summer. We bounced around from idea to idea, trying to land on a low stress, but high fun option. We eventually settled on a hotel with a water park within about a 6 hour drive. We would only be 3 hours from our children’s hospital, (does that make us smart or paranoid?), but far enough from home to qualify as a getaway.
Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1) Pack heavy on the things that matter. Plenty of things can be purchased when you are there. But if you normally need familiar blankets, propping pillows, and a noise machine to help your kids sleep…bring them all! We brought a lot of familiar items from home,but a softball sized ceiling projector didn’t make the cut. I regretted that decision around 2:00 am every night when Nolan beckoned for attention. I would pack like a sardine on to the bottom bunk with the twins and their boppy pillows, stare at the boring wooden base of the upper bunk, and realize maybe we had room for one or two more items after all. Nolan agreed.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask for accommodations. When I made our reservations, I asked for an accessible location. I clarified that we didn’t need an accessible shower/room yet, but that navigating with the boys (to and from the car, around the facility, etc) required two strollers. They kindly put us in a room on the sidewalk level, very near the water park. This quite possibly made the trip, and helped us avoid rolling the boys across hot parking lots in 90+ degree heat. It made it easier to get around, and even allowed us to split up. Given the short walk, one adult could handle both strollers while the other helped big brother get in a little more fun in the sun.
3) Do a lot of planning and research, but be willing to throw plans out the window. I spent a lot of time looking for local restaurants, activities, and even rainy day options. We barely touched that list, and we were fine with it. At the end of the day, the goal was fun, and what that looked like didn’t matter. The twins over heat easy, and tire easy. And 4-year-old big brother was playing hard all day. So when the evenings turned in to air-conditioned pizza parties in our PJs, rather than a tour of the town – that received 10 thumbs up.
4) Medical needs don’t take a vacation. Make sure you set yourself up well to stick with the medical routine. We had our entire list of daily needs, including a scale, dish pan and soap, bottles, multiple sizes of medicinal syringes, safely packed meds, pill crusher, feeding bags, chargers for the feeding pumps, etc. New to us this time…we also had to pack their respiratory therapy needs. While it would have saved space to leave that at home, and saved time teach day to skip the routine, it was very important that their well-being remain a top priority. So no matter the daily plans, their health routine remained part of the mix.
5) Above all else, pack your sense of humor. Mine came in handy numerous times. Like when both twins had diaper blowouts for the first time in months, before we even made it half way there. And while I could reach 47 of our bags, I couldn’t get to a complete change of clothes (rookie mistake) so they each had to lose a layer. Or when our box of ketogenic formula (you can’t pick this up in the store) had a lot of spoiled cartons in the bottom of their box, and I had to improvise on our last day with a little ketogenic calculator math/scale, and some baby food and oils.
What if I forgot my sense of humor at home? TURNAROUND NOW!
What if my spouse doesn’t have a sense of humor? Leave them at home.
What if I don’t have a sense of humor? Lord help you. Try a trip to Walmart with your entire family, no list, and only come out with two items. You will fail, but you’ll either learn to laugh more, or you’ll cancel your vacation because you don’t want to spend any more time with them.
I hope you found this helpful! Good luck on your adventures, and here are a few photos of ours!