As families prepare to load up their mini-vans, suitcases, and stash of cash, memories of past vacations come to mind. What a difference ten years makes. This week, my posts will reflect on how technological advancements have changed how we prepare, plan, and participate in family outings.
1. Technology and the Internet
Past--We had to tote a small suitcase to transport maps and books from AAA in order to plan the trip; (still got lost MANY MANY MANY TIMES with emotional meltdowns in between) 5 pieces of paper contained typed important information as well as a calendar. The paper carried remnants of Mcdonald's ketchup at the end of the trip. We filed it away in a scrapbook as he drew a pretty great drawing of a cat. 4 months in advance, we began negotiation to secure the "right" price for accomodations and recreation.
Present--I carried an I-POD Touch that fit in the palm of my hand. Phone numbers, addresses, email, calendar, Wi-Fi access to helpful information--all at the touch of a finger. Activities to keep the kids entertained while waiting in line motivated me to ALWAYS have full battery power. (I would've stored virtual gum in there if I could!) We named our price on Priceline the day before we needed a hotel and arrived at our destination safely by listening intently to our friendly Garmin GPS with the sexy voice. (never got lost)
Using Expedia 3 days before we left, we committed to a CHEAP 3-day stay in Newport Beach 15 minutes from Disney and 5 minutes from the beach!!! Using the free WI FI in the hotel, we printed off 3-day passes to Disneyland and Universal Studios for 6 people. (we then transferred cash to make sure our account did not crash!) If looking for a place to stay, check out Disney Vacation Rentals
The "UNABOMBER" decided to join us on our vacation and appears in many pictures. The "disguise" provided needed protection from the harming sun's rays. Strong acne medication makes your skin vulnerable to damage.
2. Keeping everyone PLUGGED up or PLUGGED in
Past- A pacifer, fruit snacks, lollipops, gum, jolly ranchers, duct tape, etc. was used throughout this trip to keep the young from screaming. As persistent young parents, we encouraged many educational activities during the long road-trip such as reading, puzzle solving, math facts. ONLY a 1/2 hour into the trip, the fighting began. A western Wyoming Walmart was a welcome site as we dumped the old uncomfortable car seat and "installed" a new one to keep the prince happy. We would've paid anything to make him stop screaming. BEST IMPULSE purchase ever was the stand-alone DVD player. It may have sucked the brains out of the kids, but it kept them ALIVE!
Present-- With the purchase of our 2007 Honda Odyssey mini-van (a Carmax success story) keeping all 4 kids PLUGGED in was easy. (we never worry about sucking their brains out anymore, just our own SANITY) The only daughter could listen to Disney show tunes with the wireless headphones while the teenagers could listen and watch Harry Potter movies on the DVD and rock out to Green Day. The splitter allowed all 4 kids to listen to the DVD movie hanging from the wall while the driver peacefully made his/her music selection.
3. An independent fashion consultant
Past Wherever we traveled, Mom chose the wardrobe. Making sure all boys were matching was not only a fashion statement, but a safety factor. Traveling through all the parks with 3 boys made us crave caffeine and high doses of anxiety meds. These matching GAP shark shirts (found a deal) were tugged on many times, dragging the disobedient into the safety of the "gam."
Present-- Lists of clothing items to take and the number of pairs of underwear and socks were given to each boy in hopes that the chosen wardrobe would make it into the suitcase. A close observation in the photos taken, one will notice the SAME shirt, pants, etc on the teens each day. (Of course, my girl was dressed by Mom and willingly took suggestions of color choices). During a long line at Disney, I observed my youngest boy wearing a pair of shorts that DID NOT even ZIP up. They were two sizes too small. An experienced Mom just made him pull his t-shirt down.