National Lampoon’s TurtleHead Vacation

Sir Monkeypants and I spent almost the whole ride down and back to Southern Ontario last week talking about going to DisneyWorld next spring. We’ve been hoping to make the trip in 2010 for a couple of years now, and we’ve been saving up, but it’s still going to be outrageously expensive.

Aside from the expense, though, we have some other major concerns, mainly, “What the hell is Captain Jelly Belly going to eat?” So we’re been planning already.

I realize it seems ridiculous that we are making plans for a trip that is at least a full year away. I tried to fight it for a while on the basis of its ridiculousness, but I’ve caved in. I’ve accepted the fact that we are not the kind of people who can just throw the kids in the car and take off for a week and wing it (and really, it’s more me than Sir Monkeypants). Rather, I can’t relax and feel comfortable unless I know as much as possible ahead of time — exactly where we will shop for groceries, what the name is of the guy who will give us keys to our rented condo, the hours on the parks, directions to the pool…every little thing.

So I’m planning, dammit, leave me alone.

Sir Monkeypants and I have already been talking about the food situation quite a bit, and we know that we will not be able to stay on the park as we will need to have a place with a kitchen (bonus: it’s cheaper to stay offsite, too). In addition, we use quite a few speciality food items for the Captain that we feel we really can’t live without, and so we were talking about having to take a box or maybe a suitcase with us that was filled to the brim with Rice Dream and Sunbutter and the one kind of bread — locally made, of course — that we know is safe for him.

Add to that a couple of suitcases with clothes, three car seats, a stroller, a box or bag full of diaper change stuff, and one backpack each with toys and activities, and we were looking at a LOT of luggage.

So about a month ago, Sir Monkeypants turns me and says — and I can’t believe I am even going to type this — “Hey, why don’t we DRIVE to DisneyWorld instead?”

Like any rational person, I said, “NO FREAKING WAY.”

But the more we talk about the trip, the more we are actually considering doing this crazy crazy thing. Every time I totally talk myself out of it, Sir Monkeypants will say something casual like, “If we drove, we could maybe stop at a couple of places along the way,” and next thing you know, we are hunched over Google Maps plotting a route that will include Gettysburg and Sesame World, and WHAMMO, I am back to thinking that the drive might not be a half-bad idea.

Maybe I need to keep reminding myself that it’s only a HALF-GOOD idea, too.

The drive would be around 23 hours of actual in-the-car time. We’ve discussed several alternative schedules for the drive but I think it would take us at least three days no matter what time of day we leave or how much we manage to push it each day. So three days, together, in the car.

Three days of threatening to turn the car around if people DON’T STOP WHINING. We may never make it, after all.

If we drive — IF — we will have the advantage of having a cheaper trip (no car rental at the other end, and gas and hotel expenditures would be about half the cost of flights). We’d be able to bring all the food we want to bring, as well as plenty of activities for the kids — luggage just would not be an issue.

There’s also no danger of not being able to get a van rental at the other end (“You know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation”), and also no danger of our luggage being lost. We’ve heard horror stories about this happening, and I must say, the very idea that something could go so horribly NOT according to plan — a plan a WHOLE YEAR in the making, remember — gives me hives.

Plus, Sir Monkeypants likes to point out that this will also establish a precedent for us as a driving family, so maybe in future years we could drive out to PEI or Alberta and everyone would know what to expect.

Still, did I mention THREE DAYS? In the car? And it’s not even the drive down that I’m afraid of. It’s the drive home…SHUDDER.

I’m sure we will spend the next six months, at least, debating this issue. I intend to do some research and find out if we can buy certain food products we’ll need in Orlando, and we’re going to do a full cost comparison of flying versus driving.

So there’s still time. Anyone who wants to knock some sense into us…do it now!

5 thoughts on “National Lampoon’s TurtleHead Vacation

  1. I think driving down is a most EXCELLENT idea. Whatever stress is involved in 3 days in a car will be mitiagated tenfold by the no-airport stress, no-food stress, etc., etc., and by all the wonderful things you will see along the way. The kids may very well remember the drive there and back as more of an adventure than Disney itself. I always loved the driving vacations when i was a kid. All the interesting rest stops, the motels, the people we’d see and meet, the games in the car, dozing off and waking up to find you’re in a new state/province. Just give yourself lots of time – make the drive part of the vacation, not just the way to get there. Do a different route home to see some other good stuff. Your kids might pleasantly surprise you. We had 5 kids who were at each other’s throats all the time, but vacation driving time was like a time-out. I would endorse any driving vacation over any flying vacation every single time, no question.

  2. We are flying to Disney this spring (it coincides with a conf I am going to in Orlando so my flight is paid for). We got a very good deal on flights from West Jet. $59 to Orlando, direct, it was a sale. I am not sure if they do that sale every year but she told me it was a sale for their final week of direct flights to Orlando, they don’t do direct in the summer.

    That being said, I drove to Orlando as a teen. I enjoyed it. We took it slow and visited places on the way there and back. I was reminiscing with Kev about those trips and how I would love to do that with our kids some day. Driving is definitely cheaper. And it is still a year away so they will be older too. They will probably love Disney so it will all be worth while.

  3. CapnPlanet

    Planning is great, and we planners get great satisfaction when we can say “boy, it’s a good thing I thought of doing X, because otherwise Y would have been a disaster”.

    But it’s also a useful skill to be able to “wing it”. Partly because it’s fun to be able to be a little spontaneous, but also because no matter how well you plan, you won’t be able to plan for everything. So it might be fruitful to view the trip as a long-term goal for learning to wing it, at least a little. You have lots of opportunities at home to practice; you’ll probably have some dramatic failures, but that’s how we learn, and at any rate you won’t be far from home. By the time you take your long drive, you’ll be much better prepared.

    I’m not saying that you should practice by literally throwing the kids in the car and taking off somewhere, but you should at least give yourself the chance to fail and see how you can become more adaptable. I suspect you’ll find it very empowering. Winging it at home will prepare you for unexpected events on the trip. Doing the trip will make you a champion winger and will make it possible to be much more spontaneous at home.

  4. As a kid, my family did the Florida drive several times (I come from a long standing family of Daytona Snow Birds). It was great. My mom had planned well and had activity bags for my sister and I (who are 5 years a part and had obvious different likes). We did it straight, no stopping at interesting places. And now with MP3 players and portable DVDs, not to mention air conditioning!, you’ll be fine.

    A friend of mine’s dad would drive threw the night while the kids slept (there were 4 of them in a station wagon), then stopped at a motel where he slept for the day and the kids played in the pool. Another option.

    As for planning, well I’m a project manager, so you know I am cheering you on over here. Heck, I’ve even looked into Disney stuff after Marty and I talked about bringing Max when he’s 5. He;s only two next month! Plan away my friend, and enjoy!

  5. porters

    Hmmm I think I might let you do all the thinking, planning, and research and then I will bribe you in some way to give me all your info (summarized of course) so I can use it to make all of our Disney related decisions.

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