Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Family of Five Vacation

I'm a bit behind on my weekly post; just returned from a mostly successful family vacation.  There have been a number of family vacations where I truly think I was ready for a vacation AFTER the vacation (but not with the family...).  This one was for 5 nights to Virginia Beach, an approximate 9 hour drive from our home.  Selecting a hotel was the first big challenge and for families of 5 this is an even greater challenge.  For the most part, restaurants and hotels accommodate 4 and less very well.  Square table typically sit up to 4 people.  Likewise hotel rooms typically offer 2 double or queen beds.  Thus, the dilemma - does number 5 sleep on the floor?  We do have an air mattress OR maybe the hotel can provide a roll-away.   If they provide a roll-away, is there an extra charge?  Some do and some don't...  How do you select who sleeps where?  If you're staying 5 nights, it does not fit into a "fair" rotation (and no, my wife and I won't be in the rotation).

Since it was for only 5 nights, we decided to splurge and stayed in an ocean front room in the Hampton Inn North.  It was probably a good decision, the hotel provided a roll-away at no extra charge and on this particular trip, all seemed to settle in without debate - yeah!

Although clearly a beach destination, most in the family are not beach enthusiasts, excepting myself and S.  S and I both enjoyed soaking in the ocean and were also treated with numerous dolphin sightings.  K and my son, J, both enjoyed the pool.  The Virginia Beach destination was determined by my middle daughter's, K's, site of her dance competition.  The dance competition consumed a couple of days.  There's a reason why there is a couple reality shows with "Dance Mom".  No need to debate nature versus nature here - crazy parents (nature) and crazy environment (such as instances of scantily clad under-aged girls gyrating to racy music) equals double crazy kids... no kidding there were times I was experiencing flashbacks to ventures in strip clubs during my Army years... Thankfully, not all are of this genre.

While on vacation, we have come to enjoy taking the road less traveled in seeking out shopping opportunities.  I visited 3 Goodwill and 2 Salvation Army thrift stores while in Virginia Beach.  It is always fun to search for bargains and see the variety from among stores and locations.  Some great things about thrift store shopping is that you likely can well afford whatever you find AND your purchase goes to a worthy cause.  Also, for those environmentalists in the audience, you are re-using and thus reducing waste.

G's travel tips:

1.  Pack a pair of ear buds - even if you don't use them to listen to music, they can be handy to mute unwelcome noise.  I used my pair during the dance competition and it was great to be able to bring the dance music down a few decibels.

2.  Always, always, pack a night light.  No, none of us are "scared of the dark".  Rather, the bathrooms in hotel rooms always have very bright lights AND big mirrors.  There is nothing worse than using the bathroom in the middle of the night, snapping on the light and instantly being jolted to fully awake mode.  A night light placed in the bathroom at night allows you a soft lighting so you can stagger into the bathroom, do what you need to do without the instant wake up jolt.

3.  Use (and contribute to) sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp.  I will be posting my reviews on Trip Advisor.

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