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Money has been tight this year, given the changes in my husband’s job and the addition of another person under our roof. But one thing that’s always been true is that we love to travel and making time for it, in spite of being less well off financially than we’re used to, is a big priority. So when our tax return came in, we had an opportunity to take some extra cash and make something awesome out of it.

We’d looked into different resorts in various places, but in my heart, I wanted to take the kids to Disney. Our youngest hadn’t yet been and there was a resort that had a Cars theme that seemed too perfect not to investigate. We decided that the best time to go for us would be later in the year, and picked the week of my birthday.

It was a lot of stress, getting a baby and a 4 year old ready for their first trip on an airplane, but I was so stoked to get back out on the road. Wanderlust ran strong in my body throughout both pregnancies, and my kids seem to have an innate sense of “YES!” when it comes to getting out into the wide world.

The gamble paid off in a huge way. My baby slept on the flight down and back and our older son was a champ at being good on the plane. We arrived at the resort to see the characters from Cars everywhere and my older son just took off running towards them, the biggest grin across his little face. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

The parks were also fantastic, and although I did get sick the first night (I think the high heat and humidity got to me, nothing I ate was that suspicious and I had only two drinks), we managed to get out and see all the wonders that Disney has to offer.

The best day of the trip, I must say, was our experience at Animal Kingdom. We were given a truly random and wonderful Disney moment when I asked when the Africa section would open, citing it was our first time at that park. A cast member behind me overheard and pulled us aside, saying “Oh it’s your first time here? Follow me!” I thought she would have given us a tour or shown us around the park or something, but no, she took us right to the safari ride and put us through. Just our family and her and the driver, going through the tour and seeing the amazing animals up close and personal. It was truly amazing and I’m so grateful that Disney gives their staff this kind of leeway to make someone’s trip so memorable.

We had a nice time at the other parks, and were definitely sad to leave when we were done. Of course, trips like this always leave us wanting more, so we are already planning our next one. My son keeps asking when we can go back to Radiator Springs.