This year, we are determined to go camping twice before we go to Disney World (!!!) in October. I’m the kind of person who loves to plan, if you haven’t noticed yet… if I’m not planning one thing, I’m planning something else. Meal planning, birthday parties, holiday activities, get-togethers with friends, etc. If it needs to be planned, I’m planning it.
So, we’re toying around with this idea that we might surprise Zoey with a Disney trip next year. We’re thinking during her fall break – just a little under 1 year from now. She turns 5 in March (wah!) and I remember going to Disney when I was 5. I mainly remember the moments I see in photographs… I can distinctly remember certain sounds and smells, and how I felt just being there. We’ve been wanting to take her for a while now, but just never pulled the trigger because… well… who can plan a trip like that when you’re TTC?
It’s hard to plan trips in advance because you don’t know if you’ll be pregnant or have a newborn. You can only hope because figuring out the logistics would obviously be a GOOD problem to have, but it’s still hard to plan. I have finally decided that I am DONE waiting.
I am DONE living my life in the “what if?”
“What if I’m pregnant?”
“What if I have a newborn?”
“What if it comes after maternity leave and then I can’t even go?”
I mean, who cares? Am I right? Life is too short – if I end up pregnant or with a newborn, great! More to figure out later… but I still think we should try to go.
So… by February we just might have reservations set for Disney. And if we’re going, it will be for a full week. We’re still talking about it and figuring out the best way to go about this trip in terms of saving the funds (no extra debt), figuring out what all we want to experience this go-around and what we’ll save for another time. Those sorts of things. And in the meantime, I’m not going to think twice about whether we’ll have a baby to take with us or if I’ll be graciously pregnant, I’m just going to focus on the finances and weighing our options for lodging.
If we pull the trigger, we might surprise Zoey with the news for her 5th birthday, complete with a Disney countdown calendar for her room. Although I have to admit, part of me really wants to not tell her AT ALL until we are pulling into the gates. This would save me from 7 months of “Are we going to Disney yet?!” So there’s that.
Do you have any tips to share for taking a child on her first trip to Disney World?
Today is the day that we are leaving for vacation! We are loading up and heading to the Smokey Mountains in East Tennessee with some dear friends of ours, and we’re in for an adventure. We have a chalet in the woods calling our name, hot tub and all! Since Zoey has been born, we have been on 6 trips, and every single one comes with its own anxieties when it comes to packing her and making sure I won’t need to buy anything extra on the trip. I’m that person who makes a spreadsheet just to go out of town for a weekend. I am always so worried about forgetting something that I feel this intense need to start the list digitally and then print it out right before the trip so I can get started. The list typically includes everything that each of us needs individually, but also things we need to do before we leave, like preparations for the pets, cleaning, getting the car ready, etc.
I wanted to share some tips I’ve learned along the way as we’ve traveled with Zoey. We make a point to do something every year – sometimes we get to go on a couple mini vacations, sometimes we do one big one – but each trip comes with its own set of needs and “I better not forget that.” Spreadsheet in hand, this is what I typically keep in mind:
1. Travel Present
Starting last year when Zoey was 3, we began a tradition of putting together a “travel present” for her. What I’ve started doing is packing a special tote bag willed with new coloring books, a new toy, sometimes a new special cup for the car. It’s nothing big or expensive, just something to make her feel special and extra excited about the trip. For this trip, I got her a little Sofia the First magnetic toy where she can switch out Sofia’s dresses and set a scene using various little magnets. It’s something simple, but I know she’ll enjoy playing with it for a while. Crayola Color Wonder products are GREAT for traveling, because the markers only work on Color Wonder paper, so you don’t have worry about the ink getting all over your car. Plus, they have a handy little travel kit you can buy and it’s convenient.
I am a firm supporter of car DVD players, ya’ll. It is the best decision we ever made, and we took the plunge when Zoey was just 18 months old. I had to travel to Chattanooga by myself, which is a good 3.5-hour drive… with a feisty 18-month-old, it can feel like 8 hours. I invested in a dual monitor DVD player and it was the right decision. Since then, it has served us very well on our trips. The travel present ends up including a new DVD for the trip, sometimes just a $5 special from Walmart, but it gives the DVD player something new to keep her entertained for a good 90-120 minutes.
3. Travel Snacks
I always get Zoey some special little single serving snacks that she can enjoy in the car (Target’s $1 bin can be a gold mine for these types of things!). If you guys are anything like me, I have to eat on a road trip… there is just something about it. Kids are no different, so I always put some fun little snacks in Zoey’s travel present bag. This trip’s bag includes a couple single-serve trail mix packets, a small packet of peanuts, a bag of dried apricots, a small bag of strawberry licorice, 4 juice boxes, all natural fruit leathers, and a tootsie roll pop. This gives her a nice mix of sweet and salty, healthy protein and treats.
4. Pack Extra Clothes
This totally varies based on age. When Zoey was a baby, I always packed 2 outfits for each day, plus 2 extra as backup. When she was a toddler, I’d pack 1 for each day, plus 2 extra. Now that she is a big kid (wah!), I just pack 1 for each day plus 1 extra. I may also pack a casual dress in case we go somewhere a little on the nicer side, but I don’t have to pack nearly as much as I once did. As long as she is covered for one extra day and 1 nicer meal out, we’re good.
5. Pack Extra Diapers (if applicable)
When Zoey was in disposable diapers, I would pack the max I thought I’d need for each day, plus an entire extra day’s worth of diapers. At 6 months old, this meant I packed 10 per day, plus 10 extra. At 18 months, I packed 8 per day, plus 8 extra. At 2 years, I packed 6 per day, plus 6 extra. As long as I had one entire day on standby, I felt pretty good. I’d also pack an extra pack of wipes. Now that she is much older and has been potty trained for almost 2 years (what?!), we just pack an extra pair (or two) of underwear with her extra outfit. Just in case she has a little leak or doesn’t wipe well… which, let’s face it, four-year-olds are terrible at wiping. Sometimes those little arms just don’t reach back very well… just sayin’…
6. Meal Plan
If your child is formula fed, follow the same rule with the diapers. Pack the max you may need, plus an extra day (or two) worth. You just never know when your baby will hit a growth spurt and suddenly start cluster feeding, especially when in a new environment. Assume this could happen and plan ahead so you’re not looking for formula in a strange town and possibly spending more than you should. If you breastfeed and ever pump, make sure you’re stocked up on pumping supplies. Pack the max number of storage bags, plus an extra day’s worth, just in case. Zoey is beyond these things, so I didn’t have to focus on her as much with our meal planning (we are cooking a lot in the chalet on this trip), but she does have her own snacks for the trip. Otherwise, she just eats everything we eat and whatever we put in front of her (win!).
7. Pack Medicine and First Aid
Unfortunately, with a baby you have to assume the worst can happen at any time. What happens if you’re on vacation somewhere and suddenly your child gets a fever, or worse, vomits? It has happened to Zoey before, in the Smokey Mountains, actually. Turns out she was allergic to rice cereal, but I’ll save that explanation for another post. It’s a good idea to always pack a bottle of Tylenol (or Motrin when your child gets old enough), plus anything you might need for cold/allergies as appropriate. You just never know when something will strike, and sometimes the change in environment can trigger something new in a baby or toddler, making them vulnerable to illness. Keep the First Aid basics with you so you’re ready when something happens. Remember, you won’t be home, so that stock in the bathroom will be useless if you’re in a hotel or cabin somewhere. For us, this means we’ll be packing Motrin and Claritin for sure. The Smokey Mountains may welcome us with open arms and fresh air, but it’ll also welcome us with new species of trees, and new things to trigger allergies and eczema in Zoey.
8. Pack Familiar
Do not forget your child’s favorite sleep toy, pillow or blanket. Those little things give him/her comfort and peace. When a child is in a strange new place, it can be scary. When we went to the beach last year, we even brought Zoey’s pink iPod doc/radio to the condo so she had music, which she’s used to sleeping to every night. We made sure that she had that radio within sight just like she does at home… she had her own pillow and blanket, and one of her favorite sleep toys. We tried to make it as familiar as possible so she was less likely to freak out in the middle of the night, because moms, it does happen. It did happen, but less frequently than we expected, and she calmed down faster because she had her comfort things around her. This trip is no different – since she’ll be sleeping on a little pallet on the floor in our room, we are bringing all the blankets from home.
9. Budget for Souvenirs
Kids are excited when on vacation. They see all kinds of new things and want to buy everything they see. Do you remember going on a trip as a kid and bringing home something to remember your vacation by? I do, and it’s something I intentionally plan for when we take Zoey places. While kids don’t understand how money and budgeting works, they do understand that when you give them something to spend, when it’s gone, it’s gone. We give Zoey her own money to spend and it’s only a certain amount, so then we’re not breaking the bank and she gets her own spending money, which makes her feel like a big girl.
10. Be Flexible
You know that cliche you see everywhere that says “Keep Calm…” followed by something that someone finds clever? Well, this is one of those moments that I’m going to tell you to KEEP CALM. Be flexible because anything can happen… that is probably the best advice I can give. Your child might need to stop for potty breaks more than planned, or cry more than you had hoped, or have an accident in the car seat, or spill an entire cup of orange juice all over the seat. Whatever the case, be flexible, stay calm, and remember: you’re blessed enough to have a child that you get to have this vacation with. Honor every moment, even the crappy ones.
HAVE FUN! Yes, your child will complain. Yes, your child will be unpredictable (which is actually pretty predictable). Yes, your child will miss naps and probably cry in the middle of a restaurant because of sleep deprivation. Yes, your child will need to use the restroom at the most inconvenient time. You’re on vacation! Enjoy the time you have before you return to your normal life and find yourself longing to be on vacation again. 😉
What about you? Do you have any additional suggestions I might want to think about next time we travel with Zoey?
I’m in this funk, ya’ll.
We leave for the Smokey Mountains one week from today and I feel like I am counting down the minutes until we head out for this mini-vacation. Last year we did the beach trip to St. Augustine and it was a good solid week of fun in the sun. It was something we needed greatly. This year, since I started a new job and have less vacation hours at my fingertips, we decided to do a smaller vacation. We head out next Wednesday after work and won’t return until Sunday.
When we go on vacation, we like to be very intentional with how we balance the time between tourist activities and pure lazy. No one likes to return from vacation and then need a vacation from their vacation.
Am I right?
This trip is something I really need. I need a few days to forget about PCOS and infertility… I need to focus on being a family of 3 in another town (plus our 2 friends) and not think about what things would be like with another kid… I need time in a chalet where it’s quiet and oddly comfortable for being strange surroundings. We’ll enjoy the great outdoors, the fresh air of the mountains (ahem, foothills…), release our inner children at WonderWorks… I’ll be sure to share an image recap when we return. 😉 This year is a mini-vacay, I’m very tempted to make next year epic. Of course there is that whole “what if I get pregnant and need maternity leave” thought that creeps into my mind. Yes, I still have hope. If I’m going to save for it, I’ll have to start as soon as we’re done with Christmas presents.
What about you guys? Did you do a vacation this year, or do you have one coming up? If you could do any vacation next year, what would you choose?
We went camping over 4th of July weekend for the first time as a family and had a lot of fun! It was definitely a learning experience considering I haven’t been camping since I was about 16 years old, and that was in a camper, not a tent. We were blessed with some pretty nice weather and really chilly nights, although I have to say, it showed how under prepared I was for the cold. This whole time I was concerned with burning up at night and being unable to sleep… turned out, it was super cold in the evening, which made it equally difficult to sleep because we didn’t have sleeping bags. We used old comforters and blankets to keep us warm, and just relied on foam camping mats to soften the ground. Needless to say, the first night I slept terribly… AKA not at all. The other nights I did better, but still not the best. While I like that style of camping, I think we’ll be investing in an air mattress or pool floats for the future. We won’t go again this year as we definitely need more supplies in order to go on our own, but I hope that next year we can go a few times throughout the year with various friends and on our own as well.
We used our pie iron a lot… I mean, a lot. That thing is certainly a camping BFF, from breakfast sandwiches, to fruit pies, to pizza pocket dinners, it’s so versatile. I look forward to some grilled cheese in that thing… mmmm.
The highlight of our camping trip was definitely taking Zoey on her first hike. She did SO well, and this was the real deal. It was roughly 2.5 miles through the woods, some uphill, some downhill, lots of branches and roots to look out for, poison ivy, wild deer, you name it. We found some pretty cool trenches, too. She had a great time and it only showed me that we can definitely take her hiking in September when we go on our vacation to the Smokey Mountains. We plan on hiking to a water fall and I look forward to taking her now!
The low light of the trip is definitely the fact that I was on “george”. The. Whole. Time. Thankfully we camped at a state park or I would have had to cancel going. Day 1 on site was day 1 of the cycle. Horrible. But I had bathroom access within view and carried around my own TP, so it worked out. It did mean that I had to bail on an opportunity to visit a cave. I would have had to trek through mud and no woman wants to be muddy from head to toe while also worrying if you’re going to leak, if you know what I mean. Gross. Instead, I stayed behind with Zoey and we got some one-on-one mommy/daughter time, which was nice.
Overall, I think this was a wonderful experience for Zoey, and a nice mini-vacay as a family until our next trip in September. With me starting a new job, this is the year for mini trips spread out instead of taking one long one. Next year might be the same ~ I really want to take Zoey to a theme park, although some actually offer camping nearby, which would be a really cool experience as well. We could cram both experiences into one trip… maybe.
I’ll close with some pictures of our camping trip. Any suggestions for camping supplies I should consider a “need” for the future? A percolator is on my list… it’d be best to leave the tea kettle and french press at home.
Well, we survived.
Our first trip without Zoey was lovely and wonderful. We did miss her greatly, especially when we went to the beach for the wedding rehearsal and again on the actual day. She had a ton of fun with her Aunt Misty though, and that made our trip without her so much easier. We did FaceTime every day (sometimes twice a day) as well as talked on the phone and that really helped a lot. I wanted to do a photo recap of the weekend. My little cousin Stephanie and I were close friends as kids. I used to fly down every summer for a few weeks and stay with Grandma Faye, which meant I got lots of play time in with cousin Stephie. Grandma called us Stephala (or Stephie) and Jessi Belle. So for me, this trip was so special. Seeing her get married was a huge highlight for me and I am so thankful that Glenn and I were able to share this day with her and Danny.
Stephie and Danny, congratulations! We love you guys!
My little family is going camping July 4 weekend. I haven’t been camping since I was a kid – not sure when Glenn went last – and Zoey has never been. We’re going with another family who also has a little girl her age and thankfully they are camping veterans, so we’ve gotten some idea of what we’ll need for a successful trip, but I’m turning to you!
I need ideas. I need tips.
What are your favorite camp meals?
What natural remedy keeps the skeeters away? Does burning sage really work?
What about the bees? Does lemon deter them?
What are your favorite camping games/activities? Glow in the dark bowling, anyone?
What can you absolutely not live without when vacationing in the great outdoors?
Share your ideas/thoughts/tips! I started a camping board on Pinterest (did you expect any different?) so please check it out and send me pins if you’d like: Camping.
I’m all ears!! Er… eyes… you know what I mean.
I’ve been quiet. But I have a good reason – we went on vacation! 🙂 I decided to do a photo update. I’ll update soon on how the new supplement/herb regimen is going. For now, I am enjoying this TTC “break” and the vacation was exactly what I needed. In fact, we even unexpectedly stayed an extra day… talk about living on the edge. 😉 Enjoy!