I brought the blender but forgot my pajamas.
Two weeks after packing for a brief trip with my family to the Sunshine State, I’m still processing the curveballs any trip can throw at you. No matter how much you pack and prepare, there are just some contingencies for which you can’t plan. Among them: the weather, flight changes, rental car issues. What you can pack is patience and a “go with the flow” attitude. I’m working on it.
To all the readers who reached out to me about their own packing issues after my last column — the mom of four who uses paper plates to create packing lists for her kids (they don’t get lost as easily as regular paper) and the mom with an adult son with disabilities who requires so many medical supplies that she deserves a vacation from just packing for her vacation — I applaud you. It’s so good to know I’m not alone.
In the end, no amount of packing could overcome our traveling hiccups. But we endured. And my 11-year-old son is still talking about the incredible “Star Wars” attractions we saw at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
As we headed out for our early morning flight a few weeks ago, long before sunrise, Mother Nature threw us our first hurdle. It had snowed again even though it wasn’t forecast. It was actually blowing snow that covered the roadways, but it was enough to significantly slow down our 35-minute drive to the airport.
Minutes into our car ride, my husband felt his pocket. His cellphone wasn’t there. After a brief debate about surviving five days out of state with one phone, we turned around. It was hiccup No. 1.
When we finally got to the airport, scrambling to get through security with a medical stroller, an entire small cooler of food for my daughter who eats a special diet and medicine that needed to refrigerated, we arrived at our gate to discover our flight had been delayed by an hour and a half because of the weather. We would miss our connection in Raleigh, North Carolina (Hiccup No. 2).
Waiting in a line for nearly 45 minutes to talk to a Delta gate agent, we finally arrived at a solution: We’d spend the night in Raleigh/Durham and then fly the next day, taking not one, but two, flights to finally get to Orlando (Hiccup No. 3). No other flights were available to Florida that day. We agreed. There was nothing we could do. We would arrive the same day we were supposed to go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Roughly 24 hours after we left and after one unexpected night in Raleigh without our luggage (a Walmart was within walking distance so we got a few must-haves like contact solution for me), we finally touched down in Florida. I was so happy to see the palm trees.
But my smile faded as we arrived in the rental car area at the Orlando airport. About 200 people were in line, all waiting to get cars (Hiccup No. 4). Apparently, rental cars in Florida are an insanely hot commodity when the Daytona 500, President’s Day weekend and winter break all fall at the same time. If there’s a better word for feeling completely defeated, I can’t find it.
“We could just rebook our tickets and go home now,” my husband suggested.
I refused. We were already in Florida. I was not going to let one more hiccup completely derail our trip.
After a nearly three-hour wait, we got into our rental car and drove straight to Hollywood Studios, stopping only at a Walmart bathroom to change our clothes. Tears stung my eyes as my daughter and I walked down the park’s main street, lined with palm trees. We made it.
We spent four days in Florida with more hiccups to come but the highlight was Disney’s incredible Galaxy’s Edge, a “Star Wars”-themed portion of the park that feels like stepping into a movie. There was a Millennium Falcon replica, rocky cliffs and plenty of Stormtroopers.
Was it the most relaxing trip? Not in the least. Will I ever forget it? Nope. But I’m going to work on continuing to adjust my travel expectations, especially with kids, to be more zen. And next time, I’ll remember my pajamas.