I'm still not ready for summer to end (yes, I know it's October), but I am always grateful for the memories made and quality time spent with our kids. We had plenty of trips to the beach, late nights watching movies, ice cream dates, and days spent at the pool with friends.
But the most magical part of our summer was undoubtedly our impromptu weekend at Disney World. With three kids in tow and one on the way, we weren't quite sure how to pull it off, but we were determined to make it happen. And—spoiler alert—it was totally worth it.
Here are 6 of my tried-and-true tips for making the mania of family travel extra magical.
1. Try a test drive.
As we quickly planned the details of our trip, we knew we were going to need a way to transport our entire crew since we planned on venturing outside of the park. Thankfully, we were able to secure a Chevy Traverse for the weekend.
We actually looked at this as the perfect opportunity to test out a new family car, as we will soon outgrow our little SUV with the newest member of our family arriving in January. We're going to need a bigger ride, and this was a great way to see if we liked this option before committing. (And for all you families of 6 out there, we definitely did!)
2. Embrace directions you can really trust.
As we arrived in Orlando, it was so nice being able to immediately hop in and get to our hotel quickly. Even with three car seats, a stroller, a diaper bag and several pieces of luggage, we had tons of room. Thanks to our wi-fi enabled ride and phone integration, we navigated our entire family around an unfamiliar place with ease. (Now a serious must for future family excursions!)
A car full of sleepy kids and bad directions just don't mix. It's always worth it to check that map twice or invest in travel options that you know can get you where you need to go.
3. Travel for the light in their eyes first and the attractions second.
As we pulled up to the Grand Floridian Resort, seeing the look on our children's faces was a sight I will never forget. The magic of Disney hit them as quickly as I imagined it would, but somehow seeing it all happen in real life was beyond my expectations. They could barely contain their excitement and seeing their expressions made the trip that much more magical for me. I'll never forget it.
4. Leave time to drive off the main road.
We tackled Epcot first, exploring new rides and trying out the new Chevy test track, followed by a special dinner with Mickey and Minnie and then the most spectacular fireworks show we've ever seen.
Throughout the rest of the weekend we visited almost every park and even made it to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, an experience we were all looking forward to. Being able to leave the park and drive there ourselves—enjoying some stops along the way—made the scheduling and planning a LOT easier on Mom and Dad.
Flexibility is everything when it comes to family travel. With a lot to see and do, make sure you leave time to stop along the way and have the unexpected adventure—even if it's just to deal with a diaper change.
5. It's the simple things that make family travel a true vacation.
And I should add, when you're comfortably nestled in a roomy car—protected from the intense Florida summer sun—a 40 mile drive to Cape Canaveral feels like a vacation in and of itself—a very welcome respite from walking to and from attractions. Our little one even got a nap in on the way which was obviously a total lifesaver. Nap schedules and vacation schedules rarely mesh well.
6. Stop adulting so hard.
Experiencing Disney World as an adult was incredible, and while it may be considered a destination created for kids—it's truly designed for the kid in all of us. My favorite part of the trip was Animal Kingdom. The African inspired safari was amazing. There were so many beautiful animals to see, and much like our 18-month-old, I was completely fascinated with each one of them. (I highly recommend!)
Make sure to find time to let go and do the things that will take everyone's breath away—your's included, mama!
We wrapped up the weekend with an evening at the Magic Kingdom and the most delicious dinner in our hotel; each of us feeling like this trip had all the makings of a fairy tale ending.
And even though our children were exhausted by the end of each day, even though there were plenty of meltdowns, and even though it was 100+ degrees—it was one of the best weekends we've ever had together as a family.
It's made me so grateful for each experience that made these memories possible from the eye-opening safari adventures to the easy comforts of a cool car. Adventure is out there—and while it can be challenging, it's so, so worth it.
This article was sponsored by Chevy. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.