As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post my husband, daughter and I just returned from a week away from home. We traveled from the North Bay Area down to Los Angeles to visit family and to take our little girl on her first trip to Disneyland!
We began the trip at 4am on a Monday morning and drove to LA. Now to preface the stories to follow in this post, driving with an almost 2 year old for 8 hours was not my idea. I wanted to fly as I thought that would provide more change of pace for our little one and the flight portion would be very short. My husband, Todd, insisted on driving. I reminded him early in the morning before we left that to be clear driving was not my idea and I was nervous about how the day would unfold. He responded by telling me, “I know it wasn’t your idea and don’t worry I know if it gets ugly I’ll hear about it for the rest of my life…” We both smiled and laughed and I knew there was no going back. So I did my best to be positive about the adventure ahead. It turns out (while it pains me to admit it) that driving was a great option and our girl did amazing! Here are some other realizations and tips that came out of our wonderful week together.
After the long but fairly trauma free drive down to LA we spent the first few days visiting family. We spent one of these mornings in Seal Beach, Todd’s college stomping grounds. There we ate at his favorite, Nick’s, for breakfast burritos and walked along the pier.
The next 3 days were spent in Disneyland!
On this trip it finally happened. After having our little girl for 21 months we finally realized we really are parents. Not in the sense of caring for and loving our child, because that’s a given, but in the sense of being real adult parents that take their kid on a vacation. This really sunk in when it was us packing up the car in the dark to leave at 4am, comforting a scared little one when she met a Disney character for the first time (she warmed up halfway through the first day), and riding the shuttle bus with a sleepy toddler after a big day at the park. Once our cautious and thoughtful little girl did warm up though it was amazing to be the parent! Getting to see my little one run and hug her favorite characters and watch her wonderment as the magic of the rides, parades and music of Disneyland unfolded for her was priceless. There was also great fulfillment and pride in watching our parents and family members who came with us share in her excitement, and we were as always so touched by their love for her. The trip was not without its hiccups, but all in all some planning ahead (by me) and some just going with the flow and being in the moment (my husband) made for an incredible trip filled with memories we’ll never forget.
Some favorite characters:
Here some tips and tricks from our days in the park.
1. Spend a few days – In our case it gave our girl time to warm up to the sometimes overwhelming aspects of Disneyland. It also allowed us to take time for naps each day without feeling like we were missing out on time in the park and made for a much happy and rested kid.
2. Hotel room – We stayed at a Doubletree Suites hotel. That way when we did go back for naps, or even once our little one went to bed, we had a place to kick back and relax that wasn’t the same room she was sleeping in. We even had drinks and snacks one afternoon in the room. Many times these hotels have great deals especially through AAA, but you have to jump on it when you see them. We got a good rate on our room but missed out on an even better deal by waiting too long to book.
3. If you drive…Over Pack! – This might sound crazy, but for a planner like myself it was reassuring to know that I had the extra room to pack any and everything I thought we might need (and I did). This included everything from clothes for all weather, snacks, toys and our little ones favorite sleeping comforts.
4. Snacks – I pre-bagged snacks from home before we left and brought along some favorite pre-packaged snacks like the organic baby food pouches, fruit snacks, and string cheese. These were all great for travel days and to bring in to the park.
5. Toys – For the long car ride the best toys were: Magna-doodle (no mess drawing), small board books, a few favorite stuffed animals, and the ipad. One mistake I made was not pre-downloading shows on the ipad before we left. Even using our mobile hot spot in the car, the shows would stop frequently to load. For the way home we downloaded a few favorites ahead of time and it worked much smoother.
6. Relax and Enjoy the Moment – I can’t stress this enough. It’s so easy to get caught up in the prep and planning and the what ifs when traveling with a toddler. What I realized (with the help of my husband) is that you can only plan and prep so much, and then you just have to let it go. Each day as I walked into the park I tried to remember that it really did keep everyone including our little one calmer and made for a much more fun and enjoyable day.
I look forward to sharing more tips, tricks, and fun stories with you as our summer travels continue.