Family Forward is a family conference held in Orlando for digital influencers. My family attended the inaugural conference in 2013. The event gave our family a chance to connect with the creative people at Universal Studios Orlando, an in-depth view of behind the scenes at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, and a relaxing stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. We walked away with our hearts full of adventure and a new found love for Universal Studios Orlando, many new friendships with other digital influencer families in attendance, and confirmation that together as a family we could handle anything together, including traveling together as a family of six in the car for 3000 miles on an epic 3 week road trip! At the end of the event, the fabulous people at Mom It Forward announced they would host Family Forward at Universal Orlando the following year! We took a family vote! Everyone agreed and we were excited to return, connect and move forward together as a family…stretching our limits and growing together.
Several months later, just weeks before we were scheduled to arrive in Florida for the 2nd annual Family Forward, Universal Orlando event, tragedy struck our family when our youngest son Gunner, was diagnosed with leukemia.
As his doctor sat beside his hospital bed explaining the plan to insert a port in his chest so chemo could be administered and his upcoming surgeries necessary to put his leukemia in remission, Gunner’s first question to his oncologist was “We can still go to Family Forward at Universal Studios in Florida, right momma?” His oncologist shook his head no and gently explained that he would be to sick and unable to travel. Gunner was devastated. I promised him that day, if he would fight with all his might to beat leukemia and got through the first 9 months of intense chemo that we would definitely go to the 3rd Family Forward event at Universal Studios the following year.
There were several moments during Gunner’s treatment where his memories from Family Forward gave him inspiration to dig deep and fight. I reminded him of the adventures we had at Universal Studios and all the fun we would have once his oncologist gave him permission to travel. I am happy to report together as a family we have supported Gunner through his initial treatment and we are cleared to attend the 3rd Family Forward event at Universal Studios during the first week of September! I am so proud of Gunner’s strength and the courage of our entire family!
Most people feel I am adventurous driving cross country with four kids to visit a theme park. However, I’m so proud our our ability to travel again, to make memories and grow together as a family through unique experiences provided through the Family Forward event at Universal Studios Orlando. I hope you will follow along on our journey.
3 Reasons Why It’s Important to Travel & Connect As A Family!
1. Team Work
Family travel forces you to work together as a family is ways you normally wouldn’t need to. Navigating 5 suitcases through a busy airport with four kids in tow forces you to communicate and work together as a team. When someone needs to go potty, the family quickly comes together to help find necessary facilities. My heart has grown as a mother, as I watch my kids encourage and support each other through new experiences!
2. Patience & Understanding
When your tired, hot, and cranky but still have 500 miles to drive to reach your destination and your brother continues to ask, “Are we there yet?” you learn the virtue of patience. When you ask traveling children several times to use the potty because the next rest area is 60 miles away and your child refuses, only to tell you once you’ve past said rest area that they have to go potty NOW!! You reach deep inside to have patience! Traveling forces you to have respect for family members and strangers, understanding of family members strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to place other needs before your own. The lessons will be well served as my kids grow into adults.
Children can be impulsive and demanding with their wants and desires. Traveling teaches our children the ability to be flexible. Traveling lets children see firsthand, people of all different walks of life with different beliefs, customs, and cultures. Traveling has instilled in my children the ability to be flexible when a new restaurant is closed, or a flight has been postponed. During these situations, I’ve been able to model behavior to show my kids that you can and should always look at the glass as being half full. Not half empty! Life is what you make it! Through traveling, my children have learned they are a small piece of a giant world full of new experiences and people to meet along this journey of life!
How often do you travel as a family? Have you visited Universal Studios Orlando and stayed at a Loews Orlando luxury resort?