By JEANNIE WONG
SACRAMENTO, Ca. — Let me start by saying that, since having kids, I’ve become a travel weenie.
I’d heard all the stories and, admit it, you have, too: The tantrums! The inconsolable crying! The nasty looks! And that’s just between the parents.
Of course, I salute all those brave moms and dads who have taken trips with their young family. Imagine, hoisting on board a sleepy/cranky/teething/fill-in-the-blank toddler, complete with car seat, stroller, extra clothes and irreplaceable lovey — not to mention bags and bags of diapers — bound for some distant and exotic locale.
But me? The second thing you need to know about me is: I’m a comfort junkie. Give me a vacation with as less stress as possible and I’m a happy camper. (And that’s just figuratively speaking — I’ve never been camping in my life. You know, that comfort thing.)
That’s why this trip and its timing seemed so doable for myself, my husband and our just-turned-six-year-old twin daughters. Even the cost of the accommodations seemed reasonable in this down economy. (This is where you need to note a third fact about me: I’m always on a hunt for a deal.) And when the folks with Hilton Grand Vacations called, offering a package at one of their “resort properties” in Orlando — just minutes from Disney World — I bit.
(I’m a silver-level member of the Hilton Honors program, having driven up points last year during a family trip to Seattle; I’m not sure if that’s how I attracted the attention of the HGV types. In any case, they like to plan, and book far ahead — this trip was set up several months ago.)
The price of a four-day, five-night stay in a unit with living room, dining room, kitchen, master suite and laundry area will be about $590.
OK, so we’re required to attend a two-hour “sales presentation” during the trip, too. Can you say timeshare, boys and girls? But they’re also throwing in a $200 rebate certificate, to be used at one of their other hotels later. I chose the Embassy Suites. Suites are big with our family.
Our airline tickets were purchased via Expedia, and four-day park passes and a rental car procured using a AAA discount.
All in all, not too painful. Now we just need to actually get there.
The distance from Sacramento, Calif., to Orlando, Fla., is 2,395 miles. Because of heightened security, our plan is to get to the airport as early as two little girls will allow. We’ll be flying all day, making a single stop, in Atlanta. The first leg of the trip will be about four and a half hours and the second about one and a half hours.
The last time our family flew, it was on a flight that was only about an hour long — and our daughters were restless about 20 minutes into it. Free peanuts only get you so far.
This time, reinforcements will include some favorite books, sketch pads, one well-loved toy for each girl, a laptop with two sets of ear buds and a handful of DVDs. Heck, we’ll even throw in some peanuts.
Plus the promise of the Happiest Place on Earth.
Text and photos by J. Wong
(You’ll find links to Web sites with helpful tips, information and more on the Cool Travel Sites page. –G. Gross)
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