Yes, the day finally arrived. We were going on our first weekend getaway as a family of four to Daytona Beach, Florida. Home of Nascar’s “Super bowl”. Once referred to as the “World’s Most Famous Beach”. Where Bikers from around the country congregate for a week of drinking up and down Main Street and Coleslaw Wrestling at the famous Cabbage Patch Bar (don’t believe me, see for yourself: http://cabbagepatchbar.com/#events). Where, in the late 80s and earlier 90s, MTV introduced the world to what college co-eds really do on Spring Break. But perhaps most importantly, where yours truly grew up.
I haven’t lived in Daytona since leaving for college (Go Gators!). Going back to the city you grew up in always brings back memories; some good, some just plain awful. We were excited to spend the weekend at the beach. Much to my surprise, a Hard Rock Hotel was a hotel option. For those who have been to Daytona, you know the hotel options are pretty limited if you are looking for something on the beach, clean, and void of that musty, natty lite stench. Don’t get me wrong, if this is a guys trip with The Posse during the second week of March, circa 1990 something, all those things are a must. But this trip was different. My 3 month old was getting baptized and we wanted to be surrounded by friends and family. We wanted some place for my 3 year old to have a good time; pool, splash pad-you get the idea. So we packed our bags, loaded the Pilot and began the….LONGEST trip, to Daytona Beach.
Typically, it would take us 2-2.5 hrs to get from the Tampa area to Daytona. Not this trip. Nearly 4.5 hours! “Leave early”, she said; “we can beat traffic”. I mean, simply thinking that we were going to beat traffic was cursing us from the beginning; but with a toddler and a newborn? Who were we kidding. If you have kids, you know that everything takes substantially longer. You want to brush your teeth? Add 5 minutes. Leave the house to go anywhere..thats an hour. So, why would I think this trip was going to be any quicker? But here’s the deal, I can’t blame my kids entirely; hell- I don’t blame them at all. I certainly did not help the situation. And for those who know me, you know that I value my time and take being on time very seriously. “When you’re early, you’re on time, when you’re on time, your late!” Words I try and live by, give it a shot.
But, now with two kids, everything is just a little longer, harder, slower. With one kid potty training and the other just pottying when she feels like it, I thought I’d share a couple of “First Trip Do’s and Don’ts” in hopes that you find some comfort in knowing you’re not alone AND perhaps it becomes useful advice for your future trips.
DO #1. Pack throughout the week and try and get your kids things packed first. By now, your parents, wife’s parents, friends, neighbors, second cousin twice removed sister-in law have all bought your kids more clothes than they will ever need. So there is no reason why the weekend before the trip, the kids bags are not fully packed with clothes without getting into what they would need for the week. Leave the last minute packing for your things.
DONT #1 Don’t forget the diapers DAD! I mean for crying out loud, this should be the first thing we reach for when we start packing for our child that still uses diapers. And in my defense, I had the diapers ready to go. All 60, unopened size 2 diapers. PROBLEM? They were 60, unopened, size two diapers- so of course, they wouldn’t fit in the bag with the clothes, so I had them sitting next to the bag… I think. Either way, YES I forgot my newborn’s diapers at home. So, don’t pull a Pete and forget your kid’s diapers at home. And IF you do (haha), DON’T sweat it. Everywhere sells diapers and you can pick them up anywhere- which is what we ended up doing on the way to Daytona (adding to the travel time) when it began to sound like my kid was going to unleash the beast that lives within her! But if you ask my wife, the look on my face walking out of a Walmart, somewhere in Orlando, with a box of diapers and a Monster Energy drink, provided her with a much needed chuckle.
DO #2 If you are driving, be prepared to stop….several times. The fact of the matter is the days are gone where your road tripping solo or with your buddies and can make “good time”. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but with two young kids, they will be hungry and need to use the potty, multiple times…never at the same time. You will soon realize that this is not a “vacation” but more like a “test-your-patience” trip. But being prepared may level your expectations a bit. Bring some small snacks and maybe a tablet/IPad for the older kids to watch a movie/play games. My go to snacks for my toddler are granola bars and yogurt pouches. Grab a granola bar that may have some chocolate chips, and they will love you even more.
DON’T #2 Do not forget about naptime. I get it, much easier said then done; especially when the kids are having tons of fun. But if the kids generally take naps during the day at daycare or at home, you’ll be throwing off weeks, if not months, of hard work getting them on that routine. I’m certainly not an expert on getting kids to take a nap; let alone getting them to nap while on vacation. There are several articles online about this issue and I invite you to google the “how to” part. My simple thoughts: keep the nap schedule as close to when they actually nap while not on vacation and use this as an excuse to splurge a bit for a bigger room that may have a separate living area; that way, the adults can still have a good time. On this trip, well I’m sure you can guess…my toddler decided she was going to finally nap 10 minutes before our dinner reservation with the rest of our family…guess how it went getting her up?!
CURVE BALL By now you know that things are going to happen that you did not plan for. It happens every day, kids or not. But when it happens on vacation, involving the kids, it becomes a bigger hurdle to clear. So, when your newborn has a blowout in her new bathing suit, while sitting in her car seat, an hour before dinner, THAT is a big hurdle. Yes, that happened; Yes, it got all over her bathing suit; Yes, it got all over her car seat. Do you think I planned for this to happen? I’m the guy that forgot the diapers, remember?! BUT, at the end of the day, we can let this ruin the rest of the day, or deal with it the best you can. In this case, I borrowed the Lysol spray from the housekeeping cart, sprayed the car seat cover down, gave it a little shower and used the blow dryer to speed up the drying process.
Going on vacation with young kids, in our case a 3 year old and 3 month old, is hard; but it can be done! Hopefully some of the Do’s and Don’ts can help you with your next trip. If you’re reading this and thinking, “my wife does all the planning, I’m never going to worry about this stuff”… well, maybe the next trip, you take on more of the planning duties? Who knows, the wife may recognize your hard work and extra effort and vacation may be a little nicer for ya if you catch my drift…. If that is not convincing, forward this blog post to your wife!
There will be times during your vacation that you need that daddy juice because the vacation is getting the best of you and you’re feeling a bit #outnumbered; definitely take a minute and enjoy yourself.. I did
Hopefully by the end of your next trip, you and your family are all smiles and you’ve created some unforgettable memories!
Have any Do’s and Don’ts you would like to share, please feel free to share you story in the comment section below.
Want to know my thoughts on the new Hard Rock Hotel, check out my review on yelp (link on the homepage). There you will see some additional photos of the Hard Rock.