I have great memories of taking a summer vacation every year with my family growing up. Some of those memories involve fighting with my brothers after spending too long traveling but now we can look back at that and laugh . . . mostly. It was always so much fun to get away and explore new places.
I’m always on the lookout for ways to explore new places with my own kids so we make it a goal to have a vacation every summer. My kids are very used to our yearly routine of packing everything up and hitting the road.
That’s a bit tricky for us because we live in a vacation spot so our summer vacations usually take us to visit family or explore other areas away from the coast (and the crowds that come with tourist season). This summer our vacation is exciting. We’re heading out to wait for my new nephew to make his appearance.
Along the way we may stop at a few of our favorite scenic spots. We used to love exploring all the national parks and we have some great memories camping while my boys were younger.
Traveling with a family of 8 can be stressful, as you can imagine, but we make every effort to have stress-free family vacations. Here are a few of the tips we’ve learned along the way:
Pack early. It’s easy to forget odds and ends and while usually it’s just a matter of swinging by a store and picking something up, it’s a pain when you have to interrupt your travel plans to do it (and expensive when everyone forgets a few things!). Start packing early. Use a list if you have to. You’ll be less likely to forget things in the chaos of trying to get out the door and everyone will be less stressed out.
Separate out an overnight kit. With a lot of kids come a lot of clothes. Just imagine how messy our suitcase gets! If we are going to be stopping anywhere overnight while we travel, I pack everything we will need that night in one bag, either separately or within a larger suitcase. This lets us stay overnight without hauling in everything from the car or messing up the rest of the suitcase.
Stick to a flexible schedule. I use to try and plan trips out to the minute but I realized that only stressed me out. Now I take a more relaxed view of things. By focusing on a few key things we want to do while we travel and letting everything else fall into place everyone is much happier.
Look for ways to save money. Vacations are expensive but there area always ways to cut cost. We hunt for deals for months before we travel and have saved thousands of dollars by researching our options. Save money on the little things with a bit of planning. We always bring our own snacks (and lunches if we are traveling by car) and make sure we have some basics like over the counter meds etc. so we don’t have to buy as much while we travel.
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Unplug as much as you can. A vacation is a time to get away but if everyone is plugged in to gadgets, either for work or play, then there’s not much quality time happening. I’m totally cool with electronics being used during travel (because you’ve got to keep the kids occupied) but when you get to your destination make sure everyone unplugs and focuses on creating some great memories together.
Get plenty of sleep. I’m always guilty of not getting enough sleep but on vacation it’s especially important. I tend to want to cram as much fun into each day as possible since we are taking the time away from things to travel but when you get worn out it’s just not fun anymore. Keep your travel schedule realistic, especially if you have young kids and may need to be flexible and be sure and get a good night’s sleep each night.
How do you have a stress-free family vacation?
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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.