The Train family just recently came back from a trip to the East Coast. It certainly was not the vacation we planned. We originally planned a 17 day trip. It was going to start in Boston to visit family friends. Then we would make our way through New York and Philadelphia to get to my sister’s house in Virginia. After a week in Virginia, she would join us for two days in D.C before we flew home. That was the plan.

It sounds fantastic right? Exhausting, exciting, and full of fun sights to see and time spent with loved ones.  That was the vacation we planned. It was not the vacation that happened.

I am a type A person who likes things to go according to plan, and I struggle with dealing with the disappointment and stress of a plan that goes awry. I know this about myself and I try really hard to maintain composure and not let the stress get to me. But let’s face it. Life as a parent can hardly be planned. I can’t even plan a trip to Target without someone throwing a wrench in it, so why should a huge family vacation be any different?

Here’s the thing. Our trip was full of disappointments and, as I will reveal to you in a moment, a lot of unwanted bodily functions. But we chose to laugh. We had to. So here is the disaster that was our family vacation and how we enjoyed every minute most of the minutes.


The plan: Fly to Boston and spend 4 fabulous days in Massachusetts with our friends and their two daughters exploring Boston, Salem, and maybe even a sugar house to see the sap running.

What actually happened: Five minutes before boarding our plane that awful red word flashed up on the screen; CANCELED. Not delayed, not a gate change, but canceled. It was a red eye so there at 10:30 at night with four kids in tow we had to figure out the next move. Mr. Train stood in line at customer service while also trying to reach an agent on the phone, and I took the kids to baggage claim. They fell asleep on the airport floor while I got all our luggage. We had a time constraint because we took a shuttle to the airport, and the last one would leave at 11:40 p.m.

After lots of phone calls and trying our best to get to the East Coast, the only flight they could get us on was to Philadelphia 3 days later. The crazy in me welled up. We would miss our entire Boston leg of the trip, and we were being taken to a city that was a 6 hour drive from where we were supposed to be. We had three days stuck at home. We tried to keep the kids busy but they were disappointed and very nervous that we wouldn’t get to see our friend and family.

Luckily our friends were able to meet us half way for a day in New York. We got off the red eye in Philly and drove straight to New York. We didn’t get much sleep because our oldest got sick on the plane. Fun times!  He doesn’t usually get motion sickness but there is a first time for everything right? We met them that afternoon and took our sleepy kids to the American Museum of Natural History to try and get them to stay awake until a reasonable bed time. We enjoyed hunting for all of our favorite characters from Night at the Museum. They were tired and sluggish but they were troopers. The next day we explored Central Park together and had a fabulous time. We had to say good bye to our friends, but they had to get back to work.


The Moai from Easter Island is one of their favorite characters from the movie

The Plan: One full day in New York then drive to Philadelphia.

What actually happened: This part didn’t have too many mishaps. We enjoyed our full day in New York.  We took the ferry and explored the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It was cold, and my little California babies and I were a bit chilly, but we survived. I panicked a bit at having to navigate the subways but we figured it out, and the kids thought it was so fun to take a train instead of drive.IMG_4246

The next morning we got up and headed back to Philadelphia. Unfortunately one of my twins had a bout of motion sickness (yep that would be another incident) in the car, but we did make it to the city by about 11.  We planned on lunch and sightseeing before getting to our hotel for the night. We went to the Liberty Bell and The Benjamin Franklin Museum. About half way through the museum my son who was sick in the car took a turn for the worse. What we thought was motion sickness was looking like it could get worse. We walked to a CVS and got some Tylenol and we sat on a bench while everyone else finish in the museum.


At this point he was saying he was tired but to be honest they always say they are tired

Being sick on vacation is never fun, and I should have realized then what was coming our way but foolishly I didn’t. I had hope that our future plans would go off without a hitch.

The plan: Head for my sister’s house in southern Virginia spend a week with her and her family.

What actually happened: My son who was sick in Philly woke up fine- no fever, no aches, and back to his normal self. Hooray! We hopped in the car and headed for my sister’s house.

We enjoyed several days of fun with my sister. We went to see Jamestown and the museum where she works. She is a herpetologist, so we also got to take the behind the scenes turtle tour which was very exciting.

On Easter we woke up early to go to the sunrise Easter service and had a lovely day relaxing at the house.  The kids ate tons of food and candy and had a splendid time. In the middle of the night I hear my niece saying “Mommy I think she ate too much candy.” The only other “she” in the house is my daughter. So I jump up to find my sister with my daughter in the bathroom. I go to see the damage done by her bed, and I start cleaning. My sister and I laugh even though we want to cry a little at the late night adventures of motherhood. The next morning she is fine. No fever, no aches, no tummy troubles.


Family Easter picture

We have several more days in Virginia after Easter. We take it easy the day after Easter and no one had any signs of illness. With young kids we try to plan short outings and spend the rest of the time playing in my sister’s backyard, so our kids can just enjoy being together.

The plan: two days before we fly home both our families would drive to D.C. and spend some time sightseeing together.

What actually happened:  Two nights in a row, it was my niece’s turn to be up at night. My sister and I again lamented about how being a mom can really suck when you are cleaning up barf in the middle of the night. My poor niece and my brother-in-law had to stay home while the rest of us headed off to wrap up our vacation. They both were disappointed, but we can’t take a sick kid all around D.C right?

We had a tour planned at the Capitol Building, and the kids really enjoyed it. It was a little stressful getting there on time in D.C traffic, but we made it. The architecture was amazing and the artwork was phenomenal. My sister and I talked about my poor niece and how she wanted to come, but we knew it was the right choice to have her stay home and get better.

When we got out of the Capitol Building, we decided to walk to the White House. Right before we got there my daughter started saying her tummy wasn’t feeling good. All I could think of was CRAP! We were miles away from our car with no bathrooms nearby. Right there on the lawn of the National Mall, we had another incident. Mr. Train and I took turns carrying her and praying she wouldn’t throw up all over us.

We made it to the car without any more issues, but it took us what felt like forever to get there. My arms and back were achy, and I was just so tired of kids throwing up on our vacation. We made it to our hotel and got all the kids in bed. The plan was to text my sister in the morning so we could decide what to do the next day. She had some fun options like battle fields and farms to visit; unfortunately none of those things would happen.

At three o clock in the morning, the chaos started. All three boys were going. I seriously did not have enough trash cans or toilets to catch the insanity of bodily functions that was our hotel room that night. I texted my sister and told her what happened, and she said her younger son was sick too. We brought the sick kids into one room and left the 16 year old in the other room praying that he was not next.



Playing Yugi-oh in our hotel

It should have been a nightmare. Let’s be honest it was a nightmare. We were stuck in a hotel with exploding children, and we did not know if we would be able to get on a plane to go home when the time came. My sister and I again could only laugh. What else can you do? We ran to Target and bought chicken soup, saltines, Pepto Bismol, and popsicles. We bought some 5 dollar DVDs to play at the hotel and some puzzles and games. We may have also grabbed some wine because, let’s face it, we deserved it!

Luckily after hiding out in the hotel, my kids were able to board the plane and we made it home without any further incident. We missed out on sights and spent a bunch of time staying home making sure kids weren’t sick and cleaning up messes when they were. But we did get to live life together. We shared in the ridiculous and the gross parts of motherhood together, and for that I am thankful. I only see my sister once every few years. Visiting monuments and museums is not what is important. Being together and laughing through the tears is what life is about. The cousins got to hang out together whether it was in a hotel or historical site. We had an adventure. It wasn’t what we planned, but it was definitely one we will remember.

Do you have any “memorable” family vacations stories? Please share.