Every year for almost ten years now, my family goes on a week-long trip to Orlando, FL. It’s always a magical combination of parks, shopping, and of course, non-stop eating! When we were younger, we were big into the parks running mom and dad ragged trying to fit them all in. As we have grown older, our vacations have changed a bit. We don’t all partake in the 12-hour van ride because we are coming from all over the country. We only choose two parks to visit so it’s still a relaxing vacation. We bond over shopping – the outlets are right outside the gate of our timeshare! And we visit what have become our favorite meal spots through the years, though never hesitant to try new ones. As much as our vacations have changed over the years, this years trip was the biggest change for us yet – I brought my husband, Nikko! My parents are pretty traditional in the sense that they never let boyfriends or girlfriends come along on vacation. With this being our first year of marriage, it was the first year that Nikko could join us. He had been waiting eight years to join us on this trip and he was finally getting to experience it for himself.
Leading up to the trip, I was so excited to finally share this experience with him.
I briefed him on which parks we wanted to visit, the normal food spots, and the shopping that awaited. Despite the excitement, I couldn’t help but be a little nervous too. Obviously Nikko has interacted with my family for years but being alone with them for an entire week was unprecedented.
The day finally came when we were to leave for Orlando. Nikko and I flew in to meet my family who was driving down from Virginia. We got there much earlier so we scoped out the outlet sales and grabbed lunch. My family arrived later that evening. Throughout the week, I watched Nikko bond with my family like I hadn’t seen before. He joined my mom, dad, and myself on morning walks and conversations over coffee. He shared pina coladas by the pool. He indulged in Brooks Brothers outlet shopping with my dad and brother (with budget in mind of course). He joked with my family as we shamelessly ate our way around Epcot and joined us on thrill rides at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. He bonded with my brother and sister over late night show binging and effortlessly butchering the lyrics to Despacito and HUMBLE. And on the final night, he bonded with the entire family over our annual mini golf competition. It meant so much to me to see them all getting closer. I really had nothing to be nervous about. Nikko was just fine.
Here are some things that I learned during our new vacation normal:
1. Integrate your spouse’s routine into that of your family’s.
Nikko is an avid runner so he would walk with us and then double back to run a couple miles and meet back up with us for coffee. He also likes to meditate in the morning so he made sure to make time for that in the midst of our busy vacation schedule.
2. Pay for things when you can.
Nikko and I would treat my family from time to time. They really appreciate it and it’s a good way to pay them back for your complete dependence all those years.
3. Don’t take your dog.
We wanted so badly to take Walter but it turned out to be for the better. It allowed us to focus on family time and gave us the freedom to stay out and about all day worry-free.
4. Include your spouse on inside jokes.
Every family has their inside jokes and embarrassing stories. There’s nothing that makes you feel more like an outsider than not being “in on it.” Give your spouse a little background so they can laugh too.
When it came time to depart, my family left first to start their long trek home and I later got texts from my family saying how much they enjoyed Nikko’s company during this year’s trip. I couldn’t have hoped for a better time and better people to spend it with. Next year will bring another vacation. Nikko may or may not be with me to enjoy it but for now, I’m thankful for all the joy and blessings that this year’s vacation brought us and how it brought them closer together.