Without fail, there comes a time every year when I whip out my calendar and declare that we are going to plan a family vacation. My heart fills with a thrilling joy as I imagine the excitement on my children’s faces when I tell them we are going to pack our bags and go somewhere absolutely amazing. And so with energized maternal love, I start scrutinizing potential dates — temporarily forgetting last year’s family vacation mishaps, like when I over-packed my husband but forgot to pack enough underwear for myself. Or how our itinerary got all kinds of screwed up because SOMEONE (me) didn’t remember to account for the long lines at the airport.

So, as a sort of public service to myself and moms everywhere, I am here to offer up some gentle reminders about some of the truths of planning a family vacation that only we know — but tend to forget when we imagine surprising our family with the perfect trip and we can just hear them saying, OMG, you are the greatest mom ever. Because let’s face it: This kind of planning is not for the weak. And the more we can learn from our past experiences, the better we’ll do with our trip-planning moving forward.

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1. The vacation you imagine in your head probably looks a lot like a glossy brochure for some happy family that has never heard of budgeting. Or time management. Or budgeting. Did I mention budgeting? Ugh. Where is my Cinderella pumpkin when I need it?

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2. There is absolutely no chance you’re going to get everything you need into one suitcase. Or two. Or three. Accept it.

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3. No one ever really knows if you’re going to need a freaking sweater in Orlando or a tank top in Greenland because Mother Nature hates itineraries. HOW DOES ANYONE PLAN FOR THIS NONSENSE?! I seriously need to morph into Kim Possible for this.

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4. After 13 hours of trying to decide what activities and shows to book for entertainment, your head will be spinning…and wine will make it better. Or cookies. Or both.

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5. No matter how many times you ask and how many times you look it up on Google Earth, the hotel room with the “grand views” turns out to be a view of the parking lot but this won’t dissuade you from trying your best to Google search rooms with amazing views.

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6. Lines. There will be lines for EVERYTHING. But you know what? That will never occur to you during the planning phase because daydreams of happy non-bickering kids will be dancing in your head while you plot out your itinerary.

 

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7. You will discover sites that offer coupons for almost every aspect of your vacation and you will get super excited and start booking all kinds of things you can’t afford while thinking, “I got this, I have coupons!”

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8. …And then you’ll realize those coupons expired in 2006. But before you start muttering to yourself that the Internet is actively trying to destroy your vacation, just remember that YOU CAN DO THIS. #MomSuperPowers

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9. While trying to book the hotel and flight you will also start thinking about booking shows and activities and by the time you’re done you will realize that no one has any down time. But everyone will be too busy to complain right? RIGHT?!

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10. Once the planning is done you can barely contain your excitement. Go ahead and high five yourself, because you’re about to score ALL THE BEST MOM IN THE WOLRD POINTS EVER! Disney, here we come!