Two years ago my family met my parents and my sister and her family in Disney World. My parents are very generous and wanted to take us all – mainly to “watch Nora’s face when she meets all the princesses.” It was both magical and stressful. There were countless meltdowns and temper tantrums. There were also memorable moments, spiked chai, and fireworks. Now that my sister’s little boy and mine are a little bit older, we are going again. Nora will turn seven while we are there, and my parents wanted to celebrate her birthday there.
I am a trip person. I would say a travel person, or a traveler. But, let’s be real, “traveler” invokes the sense that the person doing the traveling is flying over large bodies of water to get to their destination and the destination usually includes people that speak a different language or sound very different. I’m not yet a traveler, because, well, dollar bills and children.
We do however, make 700 mile trips down to Mississippi to visit my family about three times a year. I’ve noticed a rhythm to those trips. About two weeks prior, I get a low grade panicky feeling. That manifests itself in a myriad of ways. I begin to think everyone in my family is sick with every illness I’ve heard of in the past few days. To be fair, we’ve had quite our share of pink eyes, stomach bugs, RSVs, colds, flus, etc. on these trips. I also begin thinking that our house will not be clean enough or that some force of nature will destroy our house while we are gone. To be fair, we’ve had mice take shelter in our house as well as had our basement flood costing over 10k in damages while we’ve been gone. All that being said, I feel like I can never prepare well enough for our health and home safety when traveling.
So those are all my feelings when I am going to my parents’ home. Add those feelings to the feelings of planning to take my two young children to the “happiest place on Earth”. So. Much. Pressure. And it’s not only taking my two young children to the happiest place on Earth. It’s also seeing my sister and her husband and her little boy who also looks just like Eli and my mom and my dad – all of whom I see about six times a year. Last time we went, I was a little confused when I got home because I felt slightly guilty. I couldn’t figure out why until I thought for a while and I realized it was because I had just spent six days around everyone and had no meaningful face to face conversations. That’s just not the focus of the trip – which is okay and a little weird, because we usually try to cram in all the words when we see each other. I’d spent the whole time staring at the kids’ faces to take things in or managing meltdowns. It was both magical and stressful.
Going into all of it a second time, I’m armed with my number one tip for traveling with kids. Low expectations. Like, real low. I have found that having low expectations on trips usually leads to more memorable experiences. We will go on this trip armed with every snack the kids will eat, all the Mickey Mouse shirts, fast passes, and character meal reservations. We will also go on this trip armed with perspective and low expectations.
Having low expectations doesn’t mean we aren’t excited. It just means our joy isn’t going to be found in the happiest place on Earth. I fully expect to find some happiness while sipping wine in Italy or eating my Mickey Mouse pretzel in Magic Kingdom. I expect to find some happiness in watching the kids meet princesses or watching the terror on their faces on Splash Mountain. I also expect to see tons of eye rolls and tears. While we will all find things we want and enjoy there, we won’t find anything we need.
I do love preparations. I love making lists and packing the “park backpack” and planning what we will eat. But my favorite thing to prepare for, on any vacation, is what I will wear. I LOVE vacation outfit planning. Disney World outfit planning was quite the puzzle because the number one concern is comfort because you literally walk all day. Don’t worry, though. I figured it out. I planned a few outfits that I feel like are a good cross section of style and comfort. I found some fun vintage style Disney shirts and I’m pairing them with shorts and comfortable but cute shoes. Topping it all off with some cheap and fun sunglasses. I’ll be packing the rose gold circle necklace along with some rose gold studs. No clue what the kids will wear (I kid, I kid).