Time away from home = vacation
Time away from home with two children under the age of 5 = relocation
While I can't take credit for definitions above, I must agree. Mr. Lindquist and I originally planned a trip for two this summer, but decided at the last minute to add two more to our party. While it wasn't the most relaxing getaway of all time, it was a getaway nonetheless, and one that we will remember for years to come...thanks to an overabundance of Instagram photos and the hashtag #lindquest2014.
When deciding on a locale for our vacation, we wanted somewhere we've never been, somewhere driveable (less than 5 hours in a car preferably) and somewhere fun! Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City checked all those boxes for us. We booked the trip a week before we left.
Rather than give an hour by hour account of our trip, I've compiled a list of dos and don'ts for families vacationing to Great Wolf Lodge with small children. Without further ado:
* Do stay for two nights. On the day you check-in, you can get into the waterpark at 1 p.m. Checkout the next day is at 11 a.m., but you don't have to leave the waterpark until 9 p.m. If you like having access to your room before you leave, this doesn't allow for much time in the water. I think if our kids were older, the one night would've been fine, but with two littles, two nights was just right..
* Do splurge on the "Pup Pass" and other packages when booking your trip. There is a worthwhile discount for adding these things to your purchase when booking the room versus paying for them there. The Pup Pass included a sparkly, glitter tattoo, a Build-a-Bear-type animal, a Great Wold Lodge characters pillowcase with arts and craft supplies to decorate it, way too many Mike and Ike's and a dish of ice cream for under $40. We took a break from the pool to do all these activities the first night and each one was a lot of fun for four-year-old Faith.
*Do wear the ears. At all times.
*Don't be in a hurry. That is the number one rule of vacation and Faith followed it perfectly, while adhering to the "do" above.
*Do take time for the little things, like stopping to look at the animals on the carpet.
*Don't forget flip flops. Do bring a coverup. And it never hurts to buy a swimsuit you feel comfortable and confident in versus a Target special you tried on the night before you left and had about ten seconds to look at in the mirror before your child informed you she needed to poop....Not that I would know. (No picture for obvious reasons.)
*Don't wear makeup. You're at a waterpark with your spouse and kids and a whole bunch of strangers. Gotta love vacations that call for zero time spent on hair and makeup.
*Do stand under the big bucket of water at least once. Don't let your four-year-old lest she be knocked to the ground.
*Do make time for all the waterslides. Each one is different and fun and will bring you right back to your childhood. (Anyone else remember Moby Dick in Omaha?)
*Don't try to go down the kiddie water slide to show your child how fun it is when the lifeguard is not looking. You will scrape your knees because the depth is not made for someone over 4 feet tall. Not that I would know.
*Do bring your own towels even though they're provided at the pool. Yours are much softer and can be taken from the pool area to your hotel, which is a cold walk back in the air conditioning.
*If you have the money and are traveling with others, do pay for the tents inside the pool area. We didn't want to spend $10 on a locker, so we just claimed a table and hoped no one would take our stuff. There were a lot of others doing this too, so it's not unheard of, but the ones who splurged on tents always had a place to sit and recline, a cooler for beverages, a tv to watch when they weren't in the water and could have pizza delivered right to their tables.
*Do bring books and reading materials for when you have downtime. The one year old needed to nap a couple times a day, so one person "had" to go back to the room and rest.
*Do visit the gift shop. We always buy a frame from everywhere we visit on vacation. And we had to get a mug for our coffee cup wall. Just when we thought we were through, Gabby started screeching for a stuffed animal. Since big sister got to do the "Creation Station," we let little sis get something too. Rob named it "yeah yeah" since "yeah" is Gab's favorite word.
*Have a food game plan. Looking back, I wish we would've purchased food passes ahead of time as we ate both dinner and lunch at the hotel and could've saved some cash in advance. I did pack enough stuff for us to eat for breakfast, so that helped.
*That said, do pack five times more snacks than you think you need. I forgot how hungry kids can be after an afternoon of swimming. We brought lots of popcorn, Goldfish, bananas, peaches and trail mix. Luckily it was enough, but barely.
*Do get to the indoor water park right when it opens. If your kids are up by 7 a.m. like ours, you'll have no problem making it to the pool in time for opening ceremonies in which there will be a character for your kid to meet and a song for you to look stupid to. Stomp stomp, clap clap, hooooowwlllll!
*Don't bother with the first part of story time in the lobby. It was hard to hear. The reading of the story was OK, but then the line to meet the character was long enough that it would've kept us up way past bedtime. Another opportunity for the howl though.
*Don't waste your money on the MagiQuest game. I saw more people waving wands that weren't working than those that did. Plus, there was a line behind each item. It especially isn't worth it for children under the age of five imo.
*Skip the arcade. I mean, there were some fun games, but an arcade is something you can do anywhere. Maybe if we were staying more than two nights, we would've ventured down there, but we wanted to spend all our time in the water and on the watersides.
*Do pass on the pedicure. I love getting my toes did, as does Faith, but the cost of having one there versus any random shop was twice the price. While it would've made for cute pictures, I'd recommend passing on the polish.
*Do realize your children will have a meltdown at some point. Ours happened to be the night we went out to eat at Cheeseburger in Paradise. Thank heavens for the balloon man, who saved our sanity. We tipped him extra for that.
*Last but not least, do cherish the memories. In between packing and care-taking and making sure everyone's having fun, memories are made. This is one of my favorites. Faith feeding her little sister-wolf some ice cream.