As I’m lying here thinking about our trip to Florida this past week, secretly wishing I was still in our hotel room enjoying that family vacation bliss that comes each time we travel, I decided I would rather blog than unpack or dive into the mountain of laundry that awaits me.
We had a short trip planned to Orlando for some time and had to reschedule it once because of Hurricane Irma. But it was completely worth the wait. 5 days, 4 nights, a 3 hour flight and 2 super excited children later we are back home but still dreaming of our time away.
Our flight out of Toronto was early on Saturday morning. Henrik fell asleep right around his usual morning nap while on the runway taxing to take-off. He was a little tired and hungry so I nursed him while we waited and he fell asleep in my arms pretty soon after that. He ended up sleeping half of our flight so that was a huge relief. Our seats were all in a row. I let Magnus sit beside the window, as a belated birthday present, Johannes sat in the middle, with Henrik and I on the end and Michael across the aisle from me. This worked out almost perfectly except for Magnus needing quite a bit of help with his iPad and snacks. But otherwise I liked having a bit of arm space for Henrik and also being a bit more private for nursing.
Once we got to Florida we went directly to the Hard Rock Hotel, Universal Orlando, and went straight to the pool.
The resort was amazing. Huge comfy rooms, well suited for a family of 5 like ours. They provided us a wooden roll-away crib for Henrik and a mattress and sheet. He slept so well while we were there! I set up the crib beside mine and Michael’s bed and had Johannes and Magnus share a bed on the other side of him.
We loved the giant pool and the boys couldn’t get enough of the waterslide. I think I must have gone down myself at least 50-100 times…no joke. And I’m a chicken, the first time down I was so scared, but once I got into the water I was pretty excited to go again.
We ate at the main restaurant, The Kitchen, while were there and ordered snacks and drinks poolside while at the pool. The food was so good, I ordered the shrimp tacos for lunch and dinner two days in a row because I couldn’t get enough. And the kids menu was really well organized with lots of options for them too. I honestly can’t rave enough about how good the food was. We opted to do the buffet in the morning because it was easier with the kids that way. But lunch and dinner we ordered a la carte and I brought my own food for Henrik so we didn’t have to do much for him.
The hotel service was incredible, everyone was so lovely and they all got a kick about how tall Michael was…ha ha. I honestly could rave about the Hard Rock Hotel all day long because it was that wonderful. If you follow me on Instagram you can see all the adventures we got up to where our camera wasn’t around.
We spent the first two days at the hotel, and then went to Disney World on day three. We got off to a rocky start and my whole excel spreadsheet went out the window. So we just went with the Disney App and based the rides around the wait times. I had booked our lunch, and three fast passes for the afternoon, which was good. Honestly I loved Disney because I grew up with it personally, it was so much fun doing it with the kids, and Magic Kingdom had lots of rides we could do all together as a family, Henrik included. But it was very busy and the boys don’t watch Disney movies like I did as a kid so the whole experience was a little bit lost on them. Also their most common complaint was that there weren’t any real roller coasters, so I think while it was fun and loved going once, we likely won’t go to the same park again.
Day four we went to Universal Studios and this was by far the highlight of their vacation. The Hard Rock Hotel was like a 5 minute walk from the park so we took the free water taxi there in the morning and came back on foot. Because staying at the hotel got us into the park an hour before opening to the public we made the most of it and went as soon as the kids were done breakfast. Our hotel room keys doubled as Express Passes so we basically didn’t have to wait in any lines, and by going so early it was nice and cool out too.
The kids loooooved Universal Studios. Like a ridiculous amount, and so did Michael and I. We spent a lot of time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Johannes watched the first movie so he wanted to get a wand and the whole robe etc. We rode the Hogswart express and drank a lot of Butter Beer. And then the rides were amazing too. Because Henrik was too small to ride Michael and I had to take turns going on the rides with the kids, but it was seamless with the ride switch where one of us would wait in line and the other would wait with the second kid at the exit and then swap out.
We could have spent probably a whole week just at Universal and not have gotten enough of the park. We absolutely loved it, and we didn’t find they were too young at all for it. Even Magnus who was 3 got to go on almost all the rides Johannes went on and told us “this is so cool!” so I think that’s the seal of approval right there.
The last day we spent at the pool doing all our favourite things we’d gotten accustomed to while there. We ate more shrimp tacos and got more ice cream at the ice cream shop. We swam and rode the water slide and said good-bye to all the nice staff we got to know.
I wasn’t ready to come home so we have to plan a whole week at the Hard Rock and Universal Studios for next year too. It might be a new tradition!
I was scared to travel with three young children and do the parks etc, but it actually worked out well and all the travel we’ve done with the other two boys prepared us for this trip. So here are some tips that helped us!
(1) Buy a poncho if you’re breastfeeding. It acts as a breastfeeding cover and a blanket on the plane…so good.
(2) Mom and dad wear comfy shoes because you might have to stand and walk a whole lot even on the airplane. I only packed flats for the whole trip and so glad I did.
(3) Ask the resort or hotel if they provide cribs and just bring your own sheets and sleep sacks for babies.
(4) We skipped the car seats. I know not everyone feels comfortable with it but we did it for several reasons. In the past we found the cars that come to pick us up with car seats don’t ever know how to properly install them and trying to learn to instal a new car seat while fumbling around with luggage and cranky kids. Also bringing our own meant having to buy a seat for Henrik or checking the car seat in and that was extra luggage. So we skipped it. Controversial I know, but that’s what we did. Depending on your destination they might not even have cars equipped for North American car seats…as we learned in Spain for example.
(5) Bring a heavy duty sound machine. This is the one we use and bring it with us everywhere now.
(6) Make a packing list before packing. You don’t need everything, so pack smart.
(7) Skip the bulky breastfeeding pillow. You can use a regular one and it works just fine.
(8) Pack each of the older kid their own backpacks with snacks, an ipad, a couple of small new age appropriate toys and their own set of headphones. Let them carry it too.
(9) A stroller that’s compact but that has a large basket, reclines all the way back and that’s comfortable still is invaluable. We brought the Bugaboo Bee5 for Henrik and attached a wheel board to it for Magnus. It was amazing. They both used it a lot and Henrik napped in it quite a bit.
(10) Bring a giant bag of all the medication you might need: eye drops for eye infection, Tylenol, Advil, cough syrup, bandaids, polysporin etc.
(11) Pack a large diaper bag with only the essentials, a babywearing wrap and a change of clothes for the younger kids.
(12) Skip the purse…put your wallet and phone in the diaper bag instead.
(13) Even if your baby breastfeeds bring a bottle with breastmilk because with all the distractions they might not breastfeed at all on the plane. We learned that with Johannes on our flight to Spain.
(14) Skip the million and one diapers. Bring what you need for the flight and the first day and just buy diapers at your destination…no point in filling up your bag with stuff you can get there.
(15) Expect you will have to get up. The baby wrap saved us on our flight home. Henrik was cranky so I fed him and put him in the wrap. I walked and bounced and eventually he fell asleep and I was able to sit back down with him attached to me.
Our kids were not perfect, well Johannes was close to it but he’s older and wanted to play Nintendo and watch Harry Potter on the way there and back. Magnus is three, he doesn’t have the same level of patience, so we had to let him get up and walk to the bathroom, we got him lots of snacks to keep him busy and put on his favourite shows and movies on the iPad. And Henrik is at an easy age because he’s not mobile, but I know those days are numbered. When Magnus got to be about 14 months we had to get him his own seat so he could sit and play and stand and also do diaper changes because he was too big to fit in the tiny bathroom change tables on the plane.
So I’m pretty sure I must have missed something on here about our experience or some tips. So if you have any specific questions please leave me a note below. I’m also planning on going LIVE on Instagram tonight at 9PM EST so join me and ask your questions!