Monday, April 20, 2015

Family Vacation Nightmare

Our family loves taking trips and vacations. We try to take a few each year, which has us pretty much pros at it by now, but our first family vacations was an absolute nightmare. What could go wrong, did go wrong! But, nonetheless, it taught us an important lesson in life and for future vacations.

Here's a recap on our first family vacation nightmare:

In the summer of 2008, we decided to drive across the western United States from Arizona to Washington. The main reason for the trip was to surprise my mom for her birthday. At the time, we only had 2 children, who were taking. At the time, they were 1 yr old and 2 yrs old.

Due to the distance, my mom hadn't yet met her youngest grandson and hadn't seen the oldest since he was a few months old. Add in the fact she had no idea we were coming, it was going to be a great trip!

Since we had a lot of family that lived along the way, we decided to make pit stops to see everyone. We imagined it was going to be a great trip, but what we didn't know was we have bad travel luck.

Arizona Our trip started out in Arizona. After spending weeks of careful planning we had the entire trip planned out to the T. But, what we didn't plan on were unexpected complications. The bad luck started before we even left.

Since it was going to be a long trip, we had to pinch pennies to make the trip work. The first complication we ran into was at the car rental place. There was a problem with our reservation so we could not get the fuel efficient car we reserved. Instead, we got a gas guzzling SUV. We thought ok, it's better than nothing. At least we will be more comfortable and have more room, but our budget for gas now had to be expanded.

After loading the car we began our journey. About an hour into the trip, I looked down at my feet and realized I forgot my shoes. How could that be possible? Well, I was wearing my house slippers and just forgot to grab my shoes. So, we turned around and went back, pushing us 1 hour off our scheduled time.

Lesson #1-- Double check your packing.

Utah Since we were traveling a long distance in a short amount of time with two small toddlers, we decided it was best to make stops at a park every few hours to let the kids run off some energy. Once we hit Utah we decided to find the first park and let the kids play. People in Utah must not believe in parks because we searched for a park for over an hour. We eventually gave up and settled on a big empty parking lot.

Lesson #2-- Google locations before you leave.

Montana That night, at about 1 AM, we reached our half way mark, where we were to find a motel for the night. Since it was along the highway people decided they could charge you an arm and a leg for a room and those in our budget were all booked. We ended up having to drive through the night.

Lesson #3-- Reserve a room ahead of time.

Idaho As we neared our destination, we were hit by a large surprise. Although it was June and about 100 degrees in Arizona, when we reached Idaho it was snowing. What?! Snow in June? So the entire family was left in shorts with no jackets while it was snowing and everyone looking at us like we had lost our mind.

Lesson #4-- Always plan for unexpected weather changes.

Washington Once we hit Washington, things began to drastically go wrong. Since we were unable to find a motel room, it put us way ahead of schedule. We ended up reaching Washington 8 hours before we intended.

We had never been there before and relied on Map Quest for directions. That was a mistake. We ended up lost for about 2 hours. It was only about 6 AM, and I could not get anyone to answer their phone to give us directions because it was so early. As a last resort, I had to ruin the surprise for my mom and call her for directions. Just as she answered the phone, our cell phone battery died, and we had no charger.

Lesson #5-- Buy a map.

Lesson #6-- Get a cell phone charger for the car.

Luckily, my dad found us. As we were following him back to their house, we heard a load pop. We thought we ran over something. Once we reached my parents long dirt drive way, we realized we had a blow out. Good thing we got the insurance on the rental car.

We waited for the rental company's repair man to come out and change the tire. To our surprise he only put on a spare. No way could we make it back to Arizona on a spare. So, we had to change the car for a new one at Spokane airport.

Once arriving at the airport, we learned they didn't have any more cars. So, after waiting about 2 hours for a new car to show up, we finally began heading back to my moms house. And... once again we got lost.

Oregon On our way back to Arizona, we were making stops at family members' houses along the way. While driving through Oregon, we learned for the second time do not rely on Map Quest. We ended up lost..FOR HOURS!!! The only place we could find for directions was this little gas station. The man at the counter let us buy a map but would not tell us where we were on the map. How can you become un-lost when you don't know where you are? We took a leap of faith and luckily it was the right way. Then, come to find out...I had the map upside down for about 30 minutes while we tried to figure out where we were.

Lesson #7-- Forget the map. Get GPS.

California In California, we were going to see my husband's family. When we started nearing his Uncle's house, the sky grew dark and the air was thick with smoke. The California fires were horrible. We both lived in California our entire lives but never saw anything like those fires. Once arriving at his Uncles house, we were threatened with evacuations for the first day.

After leaving California, we headed to Nevada to visit my Grandparents. Just as we crossed the Nevada border, my youngest son threw up in the back seat. There is nothing like driving 400 miles with the aroma of vomit in the car.

Lesson #8-- Always bring paper towels and plastic bags.

We finally made it back home. We now know we have bad travel luck and to always prepare for the unexpected. Although the trip was a nightmare, we did have to learn to laugh at the unexpected. This trip did teach us a few thing about traveling, most of all, when everything seems to be going wrong, remember that these memories will always be there. Make sure they are good ones, no matter what the situation.