The Epic Vacation of Christmas 2010 ended much less eventfully than it began. We drove home by way of the same Atlanta-area hotel, avoiding all ditches en route. On Sunday, we made a pit stop at a place called Patti's 1800's Settlement in Kentucky which is a crazy set of shops and restaurants that seems to be located near a popular mountain/lake resort type area. We arrived in between meals, so we didn't eat at the restaurant. Instead, we browsed several of the gift shops and admired the extensive Christmas lights and displays.
Monday, January 2nd was a school day for Charlotte. We made good time on the way home, but still only had about an hour to unload suitcases before the kids headed to bed.
All in all, it was a crazy exhausting vacation. It was long. It was expensive. And our travel dates were beyond awkward for us. I don't think we'll be doing that again for a good long time.
But, if or when we do go back that way (and likely, we will), we will have learned a few lessons:
1) Do not travel during times prone to ice and snow storms. Years ago I had vowed that we would never again vacation around Christmas unless we were specifically visiting family. I think this year's ditch experience has reinforced that point.
2) Attempt to choose hotel/motels with indoor pools. There is nothing like a swim to work the wiggles out of kids who have been forced to be sedentary all day. At least, I think that might have been the case, had we stayed in such a place :)
3) Deliberately plan for downtime during the trip. We had none. Our day-to-day lives are rush-rush-rush, and this vacation was more of the same. When arriving at work feels like a respite, that probably means the vacation was too busy. It was a fun busy. But it was busy.
4) Having a washer and dryer in the hotel/timeshare room was a godsend. We kept up on the laundry and only had a small pile of dirty clothes to handle once we got home. Which was great because we had no time to do laundry once we got home.
5) Do ask the kids for their opinions on activities. Some of the best family times and biggest smiles came from the rides and shows that the kids chose.
6) Thinking about a fitness bootcamp? Need to jumpstart your New Year's exercise goals? I highly suggest taking two small kids to Disney for 6 days. After all that walking and lifting, it was bye-bye to the Christmas fudge and hello super-buff biceps.
7) Provide for a recovery day before starting school. The past week has been murder on both kids' attitudes. On the bright side, their bedtime routines have been great. They've both been sacked out by 8:30 every night since we've been home.
8) The four of us have worked out a good car routine. I'm sure things will change again by the next big roadtrip, but this time we did seem to have a good mix of games, movies, coloring books, and snacks, and the kids were not terribly whiny during the drives.
9) Gretchen the Google Navigation GPS Goddess is awesome. She never led us wrong, had great updates on traffic, made it super easy to find upcoming restaurants and pitstop locations..wait, she almost never led us wrong. She was terribly upset with us leaving one of the parks one night and kept insisting that we take streets that had been closed down. But once we found a mutually agreeable street, she led us right back to the hotel.
10) Schedule an entire post-vacation day for sorting photos. Between my camera, my husband's camera, each child's camera, and a pair of camera phones, we took nearly 1300 photos. One thousand three hundred.
Lucky me I have a coupon code for a Shutterfly photo album.