Please take this with a grain of salt. This was our experience but after the amalgamation of everything that happened, please don't blame us for never, ever, EVER wanting to go on vacation again.
- book flights through credit card points since well 2 FREE FLIGHTS? WHO'D be crazy not to? Have the airline change the flight schedule half a dozen times. Because you love surprises.
- have the airline (coughcoughUNITEDcoughcough) switch you from your direct return flight to a red eye layover. Because that's what parents with a 3 year old want to do. Not on yours? Well, seriously, it was on my bucket list. So, thanks. Thankfully, they changed that without charging us, but that meant flying back from SFO at 6:25 a.m. Which meant waking up at 3 am.
- build up meeting his cousin so much (who he hasn't seen in 2 years), that when that cousin doesn't want to play with your child, your child cries everyday on vacation. Christmas vacation. Your 3 year old sad cries everyday for EIGHT STRAIGHT DAYS because he doesn't get why his 2 months older cousin won't play with him. Totally your fault.
- get a weird cough and runny nose ... no fever, just a constant cough and runny nose in 81 degree weather.
- then attend a series of Indian wedding ceremonies where you did not prepare your husband for the fact that printed times on invites mean nothing. Everything runs on "ho jayega" time. You who need to understand will understand that.
- have your rental car break down on the freeway and spend 3 hrs getting the replacement car.
- which then leads to the kid missing his nap which nobody but you know is a precedent to ... an evening full of tears and sadness. And then the child might cry too ;-)
Don't get me wrong, there were moments of non-despair. Our sedan ride from home to the airport and back was on time and helpful. We took Oli to Disneyland and he had an absolutely wonderful time. My cousins, who are so much older at late teens and older, took him under their wings and just became toddlers along with him. He got all the Darth Vader related gifts he could have wished for. His aunt, his CA nanu, nani, his mamus, even their friends .... everyone spoiled him.
But, overall, this was easily the most tiring and emotionally rollercoastering vacation ever. I'm scared of planning another one on one hand; on another hand, I want to plan the next one so we can overlay this one.