I have discovered the keys to tolerable traveling, and they are earbuds and Dramamine. If you told me I had to leave for a flight in five minutes, those two would be the first things I grabbed, probably followed by my phone, charger, a hoodie, and a handful of clean underwear. The rest would be sacrificed at the altar of Virgin America or whatever.
Motion sickness is a beast (as I’ve share stories here and here), and feeling woozy for an entire day is awful, so now I face every flight and long car ride with Dramamine in my system. The earbuds are because kids are loud, little kid music is loud, and the girl slamming back Moscato in the seat behind me on the plane is drunk, obnoxious, and loud. Jack and the girls and I took two trips to Boston this summer. The drive, including potty breaks, stopping for coffee (Jack) or a stomach-settling soda (me), and traffic, usually takes around three hours. So, not that long, but long enough. After a little trial and error, I now make sure to pack snacks, juice boxes, those novelty markers that only color on the special paper, and board books.
Jack listens to talk radio, the girls color and sing, and I sit quietly in my Dramamine haze with Jagged Edge coming through my earbuds.
We ended up going to the same hotel in Boston twice this summer. The first time was because the DoubleTree graciously invited us to stay and check out the hotel and indoor waterpark. The second time was because we wanted to, and because every summer we attend the Arabic Baptist Conference. We are neither Arabic nor Baptist, if you were wondering. :) We see our friends, Jack plays music for the conference, and the girls attend their Vacation Bible School, which has the unofficial name of “Remmy + Sophie Sing, Dance, and Make Things Out of Construction Paper.”
Back to the hotel. Summer is winding down, and while their indoor waterpark (CoCo Key Boston) is available year round, you could totally fake the summer experience in the dead of January. Sit by the pool in your monokini, and you can even forgo the sunscreen.
There’s a little kid (Minnie appropriate) section with a wading pool and water slides, a lazy river, and a “bigger kid/adult” section. We spent most of our time going down the water slides. Remmy and Sophie loved it. Jack and I loved it. The only one who didn’t love it was Minnie, but she has a thing about getting water in her face. She had a great time sitting in the (splash-free) kiddie area, and lying on top of me as we floated down the lazy river. I sneaked away and enjoyed the indoor/outdoor hot tub solo. When it was my turn to watch the girls, Jack hit up the huge water slides with the height limits, and we watched from below as he hip-checked ten year olds out of the way (joke).
As far as the hotel went, the DoubleTree offers family suites, which we’ve never experienced before. We’ve always counted on one big girl sharing a bed with a parent, and Minnie in the portable crib. The family suites at the DoubleTree have one main room with a king sized bed, and a smaller room with two beds for kids. Remmy + Sophie felt like they had reached boss status, and it was nice for us to turn off all the lights in that side of the suite and still stay up on our side without bothering them. We watched movies and played each other in HarborMaster. (Jack may look sweet, but he trash talks. Also, I want to point out that we play HarborMaster. At least it’s not Candy Crush? Maybe?)
I’m not sure if all of the family suites are on the first floor, but both times we stayed, we were in family suites on the first floor. If you visit this hotel without kiddos, I suggest asking for a room not on the first floor. Our room was close to a banquet hall, and our first night there, a wedding reception was jamming right at the time our girls were starting to fall asleep. I actually like the idea of it being the “kid zone” so I’m not freaking out that another guest will complain if one of our kids starts crying at 2am. We bring portable white noise with us (apps on our iPhones + a little portable speaker), so we drowned out Nelly’s Hot in Here and the girls snoozed just fine.
Also another thing to note: if you or your kids are severely allergic to pets, let the staff know. I should have called and said, “Hey, could you make sure we’re either in a designated pet-free room or a room that has been so extensively cleaned that nary a dog hair will touch us?” I forgot, and the people in the room next door had a dog. The girls were slightly nervous because they both know how they physically react to being near dogs (eyes swelling, watering, wheezing, etc), so they kept asking “Is that dog coming over here?” On the plus side, if you have pets, your pet is welcome.
Fellow food allergy parents: we ate at the hotel’s restaurant, Tradewinds, and I ran through the entire list of allergies with them. ”They can’t have dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame.” The server wrote everything down, checked with the chef, and came back with a list of options for us. The girls had grilled chicken and broccolini (which they really enjoyed, the only picture I have is a dimly lit one of Sophie stuffing her face). The restaurant manager came out and made sure everything was okay with the girls. Attention restaurants everywhere: food allergy parents love this kind of treatment because you’re showing us that you care about the well-being of your patrons and not brushing us off as being manic or high-maintenance. I’d also really like to point out that we paid for our meal ourselves, and the restaurant had no idea that I was at the hotel writing up a review, so this was especially appreciated.
And if you hit up DoubleTree in the summer, the hotel is close to a couple of nice beaches – we visited Crane Beach and then Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA. We liked Good Harbor Beach the best. :) We also took a ride into Rockport, which is just the loveliest little town. Jack and I would love to go back and check out all of the shops. (Okay, I’d like to go back and check out all of the shops.)
We haven’t done any family trips longer than an extended weekend, but these mini-trips have been nice memory makers for us. I’d love to find more family friendly + allergy friendly (I hear Disney is amazing for kids with food allergies) destinations, so if you’ve got a recommendation, holla at a girl. :) I have wild aspirations of taking weekend trips with other families and all of us pitching in for a babysitter to tag along. I won’t make fun of you if you play Candy Crush (I guess). ;)
Disclosure: I was not paid for this post. DoubleTree gave us park passes and a complimentary stay for our first visit, but our second visit was not at all comped. All opinions and cute babies and Dramamine, please for the love of all things holy, are my own.