Well, we just returned from our first trip with all three kiddos, excluding the easy and comfortable family trips to the beach. This was a trip to Washington DC for seven full days. We had been anticipating it for months but, luckily, Kevin and I knew all along that all would not be perfect. Some parts were very stressful but all-in-all it was worth it and we formed quite a few good memories. Lila's all involved things we could have stayed here and done in Baton Rouge but the DC-parts really hit home with the boys.
A few basics observations and suggestions: 1. If your children are extra sensitive you may want to skip the Holocaust Museum. Cullen was very bothered by it to the point where it may have been more disturbing than educational. It is also not a very good place for two year olds as a little girl running and screaming with delight alongside the displays just doesn't seem right. Even in the lobby said running and screaming girl may cause you to receive some odd looks.
2. Arlington was perhaps the most powerful thing to me. Seeing the graves and the tombstones of some of our biggest leaders and heroes as well as some of the meaningful quotes made an impact.
3. I love the free museums and the fact that they were all near each other. Then you don't feel bad if you need to leave or cut a visit short or even pop over from one to another then back again.
4. Our hotel (The Holiday Inn) was soooo inexpensive and met every one of our needs. There weren't many places to eat nearby but it was a short walk to the mall area and the metro.
5. I personally wouldn't recommend taking the White House tour with a toddler. Cullen and Carson barely made it through the hour and a half wait. We got there at 10:15 for our 10:30 appointment and didn't get in until noon. That was because the 11:00 tour went BEFORE the 10:30 tour. The guards said "That's the way the government works" and while I guess they thought it was funny I found it to be anything but as we tried to hold a toddler back out of the street for an hour and a half. Strollers are not allowed on the White House Tour so she was unrestrained.
6. To estimate food budget for DC here is the formula: create a daily budget then multiply it by two. That is what you will be spending.
7. I think fall is an awesome time for Louisiana natives to go. The fall color was spectacular and another one of my favorite features. It made just walking down an otherwise ordinary sidewalk extraordinary.
8. Make sure there is a bar in your hotel and try to bring a nephew or two that you can bribe to watch the aforementioned toddler since they don't let children at the actual bar in DC either. I did try...
9. Don't over-schedule. I found we were most likely to be stressed when we were rushing to appointments and trying to keep a schedule. It's hard enough keeping a schedule with kids but add in one toddler and one child with mild muscular dystrophy and things go a little slower.
10. We did not bring a single toy for Lila and she did fine without them. She played with cups in the hotel room and turned the TV off and on a lot.
11. Try to get a direct flight. It seems like it would be well worth the extra money.
12. GO to DC! It was a lot of fun and I saw things I had only been reading about since my own childhood. I hope my boys remember something from this trip and that they will enjoy going back again when Lila is old enough to traverse the streets stroller-free!