The week after Christmas we went home to New England for the first time since moving to Iowa. I learned a few things from the experience:
1. Don't fly United. (We had to spend the night and then thirteen hours of the next day at O'Hare because we missed our connecting flight to Boston. Speaking of which....)
2. Don't fly through O'Hare Airport in Chicago. (It's too big. Too much can go wrong. Not even the fun children's play area (which was a sanity-saver for us and the kids) would make me want to go through O'Hare again!)
3. Don't fly in the winter, unless it's to a warm and sunny destination. Maybe not even then.
4. Don't check your bags; try instead to cram everything into carry-ons. We spent three days in the same clothes without most of our things. Our luggage made it to Boston way before we did. That stunk. Literally.
5. When every flight to Boston is overbooked for days and there are over 130 people on standby and you are ranked in the 50s on the list, take any flight you can that will get you to New England. We got on an 11 p.m. flight to Hartford, Connecticut (just a few miles from our old house) and my mom came and picked us up and drove us home to Massachusetts the next morning. It was a pain, but it saved us from spending more days at O'Hare.
6. Beg your mother-in-law to give less gifts next year or to have them sent directly to you. You don't want to know what we paid to ship everything back to Iowa!
7. Getting a 1-year-old baby to go to sleep and stay asleep in a hotel room is nearly impossible. I had some bad mom moments due to this.
8. Don't get your child all excited for the hotel pool and then find out when you get to the hotel that there is no pool. This happened on our last night at a hotel in Boston by the airport.
9. When you park at the airport when you're first leaving for your trip, don't leave the interior lights on. Otherwise your battery will slowly drain and you will come back a week later to a dead car.
10. Because you love your family and you had a great time once you got there, consider doing it all again next Christmas.