spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Disney Pre-Trip Report: bits and bobs

I love the British saying in the title of this post.  Makes me want to “pop ’round the shops on the High Street picking up bits and bobs.”

british accent

Currently I’m completing my pre-trip shopping checklist, those last few indispensable items I can’t resist buying before a fun vacation.  If I were you, I’d try reading this very non-British-vocabulary-using post in a British accent now.  I definitely will.

  • ways to make water taste like something other than water:  I hate water, precisely because it has no flavor.  I don’t drink soda, though I do love juice, but all those calories are not good for the waistline.  So I’m the queen of making water taste like juice, with 2 different products: flavor drops, and flavor powders.  Flavor drops came onto the market a few years ago, and I’ve loved them from the start, and ALWAYS have a bottle or two on hand at work, where I drink water all day long.  They are super-concentrated, sugar- and calorie-free liquids that make gross plain water taste like yummy juice.  The pioneering brand was Mio, but now many companies have started producing branded flavor drops.  My favorites are Kool-Aid Cherry, Minute Maid Fruit Punch, and Sunkist Strawberry Lemonade.  They come in a tiny bottle of no more than 2 ounces, and you just squirt a little (or a lot) into your water, mix, and voila…flavored water.  BUT!!!  We all know that taking liquids through airport security is iffy, and I’d rather save my 3-1-1 for toothpaste.  So, for traveling, I opt for flavor packets.  Same principle as the drops, but in powder form.  Each little packet is enough flavor for a 16-20oz bottle.  Again, lots of brands to choose from.  For this trip, I’ll be taking along Snapple Iced Tea, Hawaiian Punch Red, Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade, and even Mott’s Apple Juice.
  • candy/gum:  Somehow, it became a family tradition to always have Werther’s candy on an airplane ride.  Since we’re always planning a trip somewhere, I get a bag or two when they are on super sale after candy-centric holidays like Halloween and Easter.  I tend to buy both chewable and the traditional hard-candy kind.  Anecdotally speaking, sucking on the hard candy version has always eased any motion sickness I might experience.  On the gum side of the equation, I’ve found that chewing gum really helps to relieve the pressure in the kids’ ears during takeoff and landing- once they are out of bottles/sippy cups/breastfeeding.  So gum is always on our pre-trip shopping list, and we like to try new flavors here as well.  Just bought some Starburst-flavored Juicy Fruit!  Win-win.  You’ve abandoned the British accent already, haven’t you?  For shame!
  • actual food for the plane: shelf-stable items that provide protein and carbohydrate energy.  Quite by accident, I discovered that Ritz crackers and Hormel sliced pepperoni are the same circumference.  My son was getting hangry, and I made a “pepperoni-wich” out of these 2 ingredients, and he was so amused by the tiny sandwiches that he ate several of them and got over his bad mood.  I also pack mixed nuts, raisins, and chewy fruit snacks or fruit leather (like a Fruit Roll-Up but no high-fructose corn syrup).  Sometime I bring regular Fruit Roll-Ups too, because…vacation.
  • swim gear: We bought my son a new swimsuit/rashguard a month ago, because his toddler-size Toy Story one was getting a bit worn, though it still fits.  I have been waiting to buy my daughter a new one because she kept changing her mind on the style she might like.  But now it is the time, because we were cooling off at the pool yesterday, and her board shorts were too small, her rashguard didn’t fit at all (or maybe she “lost” it because the design was too childish), and she only has 1 swimsuit that fits properly.  Anyone who has ever tried to air-dry a bathing suit in a hotel bathroom knows that 1 swimsuit is not enough, because it never dries completely before the next time you want to go to the pool.  Putting a damp suit back on IS THE WORST, so off to the mall we shall go for a second suit.
  • And finally, more spray-on sunscreen.  It smells like paid days off.  Excuse me, I mean, it smells like a jolly holiday 🙂

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you….the 30-day Mickey Head Countdown.

Like Princess Tiana in this picture, I'm Almost There!

Like Princess Tiana in this picture, I’m Almost There!

Legend tells of a chronically organized madwoman who cajoles her husband and children into making 150 construction paper strips, then putting a Disney sticker and number counting down from 180 to 30 on each strip, and stapling those strips together to make a massive paper chain.  This chain takes our crew from 6 months until their trip to 1 month until their trip, when the madwoman deploys the rarely-seen Mickey Head Countdown.  This objet d’art is made from vintage (as in, not available anymore) paint chip samples from when Disney sold home paint at the esteemed orange superstructure known as Home Depot.  Many years ago, exactly 30 paint chips shaped like Mickey Heads were deftly procured with nary an intention to actually buy the paint.  These chips are lovingly stored in a tiny tin suitcase that once held exorbitantly-priced Disney mints until they day they can be attached to a simple piece of cardboard using colorful pushpins.  Each day of the last 30 days of the vacation countdown, a small boy points to the correct Mickey Head with his favorite dry erase marker (CAP ON, of course, the madwoman leaves nothing to chance), and an adolescent girl carefully removes the pushpin from the cardboard, reads aloud the whimsical paint color name the chip once represented (Ariel’s Afternoon Swim, Happily Ever After, Mickey’s Shorts, etc), then carefully returns the Mickey Head to the tiny suitcase to bring untold amounts of joy for a future trip.  At this point the husband has either rolled his eyes, fallen asleep, or both.  But no matter!  The ritual continues until Day Zero, or the last 24 hours before the airport shuttle whisks them away to HNL to begin their vacation adventure.

Have a magical day, friends!

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