As I write this, I’m sitting poolside in Florida while my four kids laugh and float through the lazy river with their six cousins in front of me.
My sister in law is reading a book next to me, an ACTUAL BOOK. My brother and mom are in the lazy river too and my sister is refilling our cocktails. I know: please don’t feel too sorry for us. But it has not always been that way. Vacations with young kids can often feel like more work in a different location without any of the comforts of home, sleep is non-existent and everyone seems to be tired or hungry or sunburnt and sometimes all of the above. But now our kids are a little older so it has evolved to a pretty sweet spot. And well… we’ve aged a little too and have learned from the not so great “vacations” to what makes a great one.
Here are our top survival tips:
1. Travel in packs. Let’s learn from the wolves, the more the merrier. It may seem like the ultimate irony but more kids often equals more fun and less work for the adults. The entertainment that kids provide one another is priceless. Some of our best trips have been with 10-18 kids. Seriously. That is what my kids talk about. Every night is a sleepover and the days are full of discovery. And if you want more time with your own immediate family, tack on a few days at the end if you can to explore together (and enjoy a little peace and quiet).
2. Rent a house. Save the hotel trips when you are traveling without a wolf pack. Having space is invaluable when traveling with multiple families. Everyone then has space to be together and maybe even more importantly, space to spread out. It is also significantly cheaper to rent an Airbnb about 20 minutes outside of the parks, you are still really close to everything you need, you have a whole lot of house to stay in and have more money in your pocket when you do go to the parks.
3. Let go. We went to the Magic Kingdom the other day and I was reminded of my love of Elsa and her independent ways. Letting go of your expectations is probably one of the greatest things to keep in mind when traveling with kids. Will your vacation be perfect? Absolutely not. Ice cream spills, kids melt down, afternoon storms roll through and postpone the ride that you are next in line for. Life happens. Roll with it and move forward. Bonus: the kids are watching how you handle the disappointments so teach them how it’s done.
4. Divide and conquer. With a large group, not everyone is on the same vacation schedule. Divide by what works and what people most want to do and realize not everyone is going to do everything all at once. It is nearly impossible to keep 16 people of all ages together at a theme park; we have a thrill seeker and a land lover group- everyone wins. For beach trips and a mixed blend of early risers and late sleepers, we typically don’t all eat breakfast together but typically we come together for dinner. Roll with what works for your crew.
5. Be kind to everyone you meet may be on a road trip with multiple children. Long road trips require a lot of patience (and caffeine). We drove to Florida from Maryland and my sister and her family drove from Dallas and we met in the middle in Charleston- a welcome break and a really amazing city to experience. Map out the fun but roll with the punches- kids will need bathroom breaks, you will probably need sanity breaks. The road trip bonus: exploring new states. Extra bonus: saving a serious amount of money by not flying.
This trip was a Christmas gift from my mom to her children and grandchildren- the ultimate Christmas in July. The gift of time will outweigh any material one and we are beyond grateful to have had this trip to look forward to. Here’s to embracing the glory of imperfect adventures. We only get so many summers for our kids to just be kids, but if we do it right, that will always be enough.
Katie’s essay and tangent collection about motherhood, life and imperfection, Happy Broken Crayons is available on Amazon now. Thank you for reading. You are the (queen) bees knees. Happy happy holidays and happy happy new year to you. In setting your hopes for 2018, please think about your word. I can’t wait to hear it. Xoxo
To read more blogs by Katie Moore click here.
Katie Yackley Moore is a freelance writer, real estate agent, yoga instructor and a momma of four navigating life and a separation and finding herself in the process. She adores coffee shops, laughing until it hurts and impromptu dance parties. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamalode and HuffPost Parents. She has published a journal entitled “Dream a Bigger Dream” and the children’s books “You Are a Warrior” and “We are Family” and just finished her first novel. Catch up with her between tea breaks at The Naked Momma and on Facebook.