Saturday, July 2, 2011

Trips with Toddlers: The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Ugly

So we just got back from our first vacay with the kiddos in tow (San Antonio for what it's worth).  The kids had a blast!  Hubby and I, well, we are a little shell shocked.  Here's the breakdown:

The Good -
Our Hotel.  We stayed a Holiday Inn near Sea World and it was awesome.  Thanks to my Superhero friend for the tip.  Great pool, check.  Restaurant with full breakfast, check.  Friendly staff, check.  Hourly shuttle to and from Sea World, check.  Seriously, this was a great hotel.  Oh, and it was "green" and you know I loved that...although it would have been nice to have a couple more lights in the room.  I'm all for green but one tiny light bulb in the living room and one lamp in the bedroom was a little ridiculous.  Great windows though!

Panning for gems.  We randomly stopped along the way at Natural Bridge Caverns.  I love caves and I remembered hubby and I having a blast in this one on a previous trip to SA, in another pre-children life.  However, the kids were near meltdown stage, the tour was 75 minutes long and I had visions of freak-outs 1 mile underground so we skipped the cave tour.  But we did buy some bags of what looked like dirt and panned for gems in their old-timey sluice.  Everyone had so much fun, it was probably the best part of our trip. And, we came home with a couple of bags of really cool gems.  I love geology!

Ernesto's.  This restaurant was soooo yummy.  It was like Mexican food all fancied up!  Their tortilla soup was apparently the first served in the city and it was a m a z i n g!  Everything was great, including the fact that Ernesto himself came over and talked to us, remarking on how beautiful my babies are.  He knows how to get a good tip out of a mommy!  If you are ever in San Antonio, this is the place to eat.

The Bad -
Sea World.  Sorry, but this has to go on my bad list.  There were some good things.  We enjoyed the shows, feeding the sea lions, and the pre-schooler ride/water area, but overall I was not impressed.  There were not nearly enough actual animal exhibits and the ones they had didn't allow for much interaction unless you pre-booked and payed extra for the "experience."  In Orlando, they have humongous tanks of sharks and things that you can walk through in a giant tunnel, you could hand-feed manta rays, and lots of other great educational things.  And that was in the 80's!  Also, this Sea World was randomly and strangely laid out, and besides the shows, you have to pay extra for everything.  I wouldn't have minded the price tag if there had been more to do and see, but for the money I can think of lots of more exciting or educational things to do with kids for the money.  It didn't help that my kids were not sleeping well and by 10am (their opening time) they were already exhausted and ready to nap in the stroller, or throw tantrums.

The Ugly -
US.  As in myself, my children, and my husband.  Ah, where do I start?  My children thought it was great fun to shriek at the top of their lungs in the car all of the time!  This, coupled with traffic and road construction in unfamiliar cities turned my normally sweet hubby into a raging, fist shaking, threatening angry dad.  The kids did not sleep.  Bedtime every night was a several hour process of more yelling, threats, pleading, song singing, you name it.  The do not share a room in our house and the idea of staring at one another across the bed said "playtime" not nighttime.  Ahh, it was exhausting.  Not to mention it made for more meltdowns during the day.  As for me, I was so occupied trying to cram as much "fun" into the trip, that I pretty much exhausted myself and my family.  Here's a tip, a two and three-year-old don't really give a flying poo about the Alamo, save that for when they are at least school age.

So, I think we probably had a pretty typical trip with kids.  Some fun, some screaming, some more fun, some "kill me now" moments, and so on.  In the future, it will likely be just hubby and I again.  If I do travel with the kiddos again anytime soon, it will be a much shorter, closer to home trip.  If we went to San Antonio again, I would skip Sea World altogether, stay downtown, and do the museums, parks and zoos there.  I wish we would have had some more time to do those things but it just didn't happen.  Maybe next year!

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