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worst vacation ever

There’s only one way to sum up our trip to Great Britain: memorable but chaotic.  It was my first time planning an international multi-generational vacation and I really had this itinerary perfected.  Finding lodging and attractions that would be great for both a 3 year old and a 60 year old was not easy!  But despite my meticulous planning so many things went wrong and we came home feeling so exhausted.  A few weeks ago I wrote a post about why Great Britain was our best vacation ever.  Now it’s time to vent all the things that went terribly wrong.

1. The Flights to and from London

Last year was Stink’s first trip on an airplane and it went well considering it was a red eye flight.  We did, however, have jetlag for a few days afterward.  This time we thought it would be a great idea to give her half a dose of melatonin to ensure she slept and to prevent excessive jet lag.  It worked great…for the first 3 hours.  Halfway through our flight Stink got night terrors and screamed so much she made herself vomit.

On the way home it was my turn to get sick!  We were flying home on Virgin America and for a snack I got their chicken caesar wrap.  30 minutes later I was holding onto an airplane sickness bag for dear life.  I managed to hold everything in until we got off the flight but spent half an hour emptying my stomach in the bathroom outside customs.

worst vacation ever
Poor jetlagged Stink

2.  The Traffic

Having taken a road trip around Ireland we thought England would be pretty much the same.  It wasn’t.  England has SO much more traffic than Ireland does and the stresses of driving a large car on small roads just wore us down.  Maybe not Brandon since he was the driver but I’m pretty sure my nails left a mark on our Volvo door as I yelled at him for being TOO CLOSE TO THE CURB!  Which he did hit with his tires quite a few times.

Scotland wasn’t nearly as bad.  In fact the highway roads were about as wide as American roads and cars were far fewer.  But I don’t think I’ll ever forget the blind curves in the Cotswolds and the Lake District.

And speaking of driving, my entire itinerary was thrown out of whack by the amount of time it took to get from one place to another.  Google Maps would say our next destination was 4 hours away and after 7 hours we would finally arrive.  It happened every single time!  Perhaps we weren’t driving on the country roads fast enough but if I had known we would have that much driving I probably would have knocked Scotland off our itinerary altogether.

worst vacation ever
The only driving I enjoyed was on the highway

3. I Planned Too Far in Advance

Our trip to the UK has been in the works since 2012.  I was just a week away from booking our flights when we found out about Stink.  Naturally a new baby put our vacation on hold for a while.  Four years later we finally took my mom on her dream vacation.

The downside to so much planning is the hype that gets attached to it.  My mom and I spent hours toiling over cities to visit, activities to do, restaurants to eat at.  Our itinerary changed dozens of times over the course of those 4 years and my expectations of a perfect vacation grew.  Unfortunately vacations almost never live up to those expectations and that’s exactly what happened on this one.

4. Our Vacation Was TOO LONG

As a result of our excessive planning my mom and I found it hard to narrow down our vacation to a few select cities.  What originally started out as a trip to England grew as we added extra days in Scotland.  While 16 days wasn’t the longest vacation I’ve taken it certainly made for a long family vacation, especially since it involved a lot of driving.

5. We All Got Sick

This could have happened on any vacation, really.  It started with me getting a sore throat and chest cough on the day that I was most looking forward to: our trip on the Harry Potter train in Scotland.  I’m sad to report that half of the trip was spent sleeping.

The next day Stink went down for the count and when Stink gets sick all hell breaks loose.  Getting a 3 year old to blow her nose is like wrestling a starving crocodile.

So the last few days of our vacation were spent dealing with car sickness, stuffy noses and sheer exhaustion.  Brandon didn’t come down with the cold till we were flying home and my mom (luckily?) didn’t get sick until she got home and had to go to work.

worst vacation ever
Trying to put on a happy face but feeling SUPER crappy

6. We Almost Lost Stink

This has to be the single most terrifying experience I’ve had as a parent.  It was the last day of our vacation and my mom and I were spending it at Leeds Castle while Brandon and Stink stayed home and rested.  When Brandon came to pick us up I convinced him to spend a few hours walking the castle grounds with us.  There was a Renaissance Faire going on at the castle that weekend and I wanted to show Stink the castle’s amazing playground and hedge maze.

The playground at the castle is split into two sections: one for small children and one for big children.  Stink enjoyed playing in the small children’s playground but I encouraged Brandon to show her the big kid’s section too.  It was an enormous play area designed like a castle with turrets, ramparts, bridges and slides.

My mom stayed outside the play area with the stroller while I waited in a ridiculously long line to get us all some drinks.  Then I got a text message from Brandon saying that he couldn’t find Stink.  She had gotten too scared to slide down a slide by herself so Brandon went up the stairs to get her.  By the time he got to the top she was nowhere to be seen.

I panicked.  When I got back to the play area he was still searching for her.  I ran into the playground calling her name while Brandon was on the second story of the playground searching for her from above.  My mom stationed herself at the entrance in case Stink came out.  I ran over to the small kid’s playground, thinking she had gone back over there.  I searched around the grassy lawn, towards the lake where she enjoyed feeding the geese earlier.  There was no sign of her.

15 agonizing minutes went by before Brandon located Stink, playing with an older boy.  She told Brandon they had been “hiding”.  We were both shaken to the core over losing her and it was a pretty scary end to our vacation.

worst vacation ever
The small kid’s playground. Ignore the fact that Stink is wearing pajamas

As I had mentioned in my previous post there were plenty of things that were great about our trip.  It just so happened that a lot of things went wrong.  Usually we experience one or two little fiascos but nothing to ruin a vacation.  It seemed that we were dealing with stuff every day on this trip.

But what’s important is how this trip is remembered.  My mom and Stink both look back on this vacation fondly and that’s all that matters.  Perhaps in the future we can go back and have a do-over!

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