I will never forget the first family vacation we took as a family of 6. Our youngest was around 8 months old, and while we’ve always been a camping family, we’d yet to venture out with our little caboose. I made the checklists, double checked the supplies, picked a perfect campsite – close to the bathrooms but not too close – and as we loaded up 4 kids, 2 dogs and ALL THE THINGS, we thought we were so prepared!
To my family’s credit, things went really well until bedtime. Because my children shared bedrooms, I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal for us all to be in one big tent. Unfortunately, there is a BIG difference between sleeping in beds in the same room and sharing one tent floor. Getting everyone settled at a reasonable hour was challenging for sure but eventually we got everyone in their sleeping bags and asleep.
Things didn’t go off the rails until the baby woke up around midnight. He’d soaked through his diaper, which meant his little sleeping pallet was wet, which meant after getting him changed into clean pajamas, I then had to find clean bedding. It would have been helpful if I’d thought to pack extra bedding…
By the time I cobbled something together for him, he was wide awake and NOT HAPPY about my wanting him to go back to sleep. So, he did what all babies do when they’re unhappy – he cried. You know the escalating baby cry that you don’t think will ever stop? I began to panic. I just knew the camp-site police were coming to tell us to pack up and get out.
At that point the only thing I could think to do was to get him out of the campground. I buckled him into his car seat in the minivan and proceeded to drive him around until he finally crashed about 30 minutes later.
I’d love to tell you the rest of the weekend went more smoothly, but I can’t. It really wasn’t awful, but there were so many lessons learned. Things I wish I had thoughts about and planned on.
▼ Jump to Listen to Episode #9: How to Have Successful Family Vacations ▼
Vacation Lessons Learned
In the newest podcast episode about Family Vacations, Heidi and I chat about mistakes we’ve made, what we’ve learned, and the importance of keeping open hands in planning vacations with kids. We share the following tips in the hopes of helping you better enjoy your vacation time.
Tip #1: Start Small
When narrowing down your first destination, choose a location that will provide a safe place to fail because there is a learning curve in taking family vacations. Everyone is out of their norm and expectations are typically pretty high.
Tip #2: Choose an Itinerary for YOUR Family
As you think through your itinerary, be realistic about the people in YOUR family. While it’s great to see other family’s vacation pics on social media, think about the ages, personalities, and other important factors as you plan a getaway for your family.
Tip #3: Be Flexible, But Don’t Stray Too Far From the Norm
If your kiddos typically have daily naps, be sure to make plans for this to happen in your travels and sightseeing. If your kiddos are light sleepers, choose sleep arrangements that will allow everyone to awake rested.
Tip #4: Take Pictures But Make Memories
Find the balance between posing for pictures and enjoying the experiences. And don’t forget to get in the pictures, mom!
Tip #5: Involve Everyone in the Planning Process
Talk about the vacation plans, first with your husband, and then with the kids. This helps everyone enjoy the trip. In planning, brainstorm ideas but expect compromise will be needed.
Tip #6: Discuss the Goal
Before you ever decide where to visit, discuss what the goal is for your vacation time. If your family is like mine, everyone’s expectations may be polar opposite. But when a common goal can be determined, a successful vacation may be closer than it seems.
Tip #7: It’s Okay Not to Take a Vacation
I think the most important takeaway I had from this podcast episode is Heidi’s permission to NOT take a vacation! Sometimes you just need someone to reassure you that just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t mean you have to! And it’s okay to wait until everyone is a little older.
When the time is right, family vacations can be wonderful times to get away and experience new. And with just a few tweaks and some good ‘ole planning, fun can be had by all!
Be sure to check out all of Heidi’s Vacation Tips!
- Visiting National Parks as a Family (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountains, etc)
- Family Beach Vacation Tips 101 (Where, When, Packing Guide, Meal Planning)
- Visiting Amusement Parks with Preschoolers
- Hotel Room Tips
- Camping as a Family Tips
- I’m Giving You Permission Not to Go on a Family Vacation and Why
- Road Trip Activity Book
- Create a Travel Journal (ages 5+)
- Car and Travel Activities for Kids
Episode #9: How to Have Successful Family Vacations
Thank you to all who entered to win the PureFlix giveaway shared in last week’s post.
The randomly chosen winner is:
Entry #64 – Rachel C. (email redheadzr…@…)
Rachel, please contact me within 48 hours using the winning email address.
Thank you to everyone who entered and thank you to PureFlix for providing this fun giveaway.