Let’s face it: Vacations aren’t all the fun and games that they used to be.
By “used to be,” I’m talking about back when I was a kid, and all I had to do was pack one small bag of personal activities and hop in the car when my dad called, “All Aboard!” All of the other arrangements were made by my mother, who worked for days to prepare us for a trip, and then worked every day during the trip, and then worked even harder after the trip to catch up on laundry and housework, paperwork, and all of her other work.
Well, now I’m the mother.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s for an overnight or an extended stay; at some point leading up to a vacation, I tend to ask myself, “Is this trip really necessary?” I think of all the very productive things I might be able to accomplish with the time, if we just stayed home instead.
At the same time, I have to admit, trips are worth some amount of trouble. Family vacations can create stronger bonds between children and parents, and the memories last a lifetime (especially since we tend to digitally capture every single moment!). So my question is, how can we simplify the work of family vacations? How do you make sure that you enjoy the vacation as well? Has anyone had success in this area? Please share your wisdom now so that we can all better enjoy our upcoming summer travel!
QUESTION: How do you make your family a vacation a vacation?
CHALLENGE: A few ways to really enjoy your vacation are by preparing ahead of time, planning in more free time, being in the moment, etc. Share with us your thoughts and ideas.
Image from Photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We’re headed out on a little weekend vacation tomorrow so this is very much on my mind! Here are some things that really help me with packing and doing car trips:
Celina Natale says
I love the packing ideas if separate bags for socks/underwear, Sunday clothes, and jackets! Will do that next trip!
I heard your podcast a year or two ago about you packed, and it helped so much! We just got back a week ago and it made Sunday easier, getting ready for bed easier, and everything a little more simple! Thank you for sharing!!!
Wow Saren, that’s amazing! I need to lighten my load apparently. Vacations are stressful, for sure. Let’s face it…you’re taking your kids in public for a week! I’m going to put myself out there and tell you one thing I wish I had in my car that would make traveling easier. A port-a-potty! No kidding. I went to an earthquake preparedness seminar a month ago and the lady told us how to build a port a potty to keep in our car. You take a 5 gallon bucket, line it with a trash bag, sprinkle some kitty litter in it (helps smell and absorbs), and you can purchase a potty seat from camping or outdoor supply stores. Keep all those supplies in the bucket and you are ready to go. Once it’s used, tie up the bag and toss it in the trash. We caught ourselves on a beach a couple of weeks ago that had no public restrooms in sight for my three year old. She refused to get in the water, so we had to resort to a diaper. Would have been fine, if I had had my handy dandy port a potty in the back of my van. Also good, for when you are in the middle of nowhere and your kids have got to go.
WOW!!! What you are describing would completely revolutionize Woodworth family vacations!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to detail all of that–even as you’re busy packing and putting it all into action. We have a short trip coming up as well, so I’m going to try your system right away! I’ll let you know how it goes!
One question: what kind of “smaller bag” do you use inside the larger bag? A backpack? A ziplock? A grocery bag? I love the “carry it all in one load” idea!
Also, to what extent do you have the kids help you with the packing?
My six year old does most of the packing himself… I sometimes write him a list of what needs to be packed, but he’s helped me so many times since he was little, that now he knows and understands “how” to do it. And it’s very easy for him, as we pack in “outfits.” So, he’ll get a matching t-shirt and shorts along with socks and undies wrapped together for 1 day. 🙂 Makes it fun and easy. I typically review his choices before leaving, but more often than not, he does a great job! Sometimes he gets to pack in his own suitcase, but lately he just brings me a pile to be put in the camper. Have fun!
Brianna Monson says
Ok, this was a great post with vacationing for the summer months! I too feel the stress getting ready for vacations. I have a child with very severe food allergies which means no fast food stops for our family. This also adds to the preparing and packing. It literally takes me quite a few days to prepare for a trip, but this is what I do…I make lists, I am a list person! I sit down and make my lists. I have one list for my kids which looks like this…4 shirts, 2 pants, 4 underwear, 4 socks, 2 sweatshirts, 1 jacket, 1 blanket, 1 pillow, 4 books, 2 toys, 1 toothbrush and toothpaste, 1 brush or comb ( I let them pack while I pack and they love it because they are so excited to go) Then I have a few lists for me…One with a list of everything I need like camera, maps, clothes, etc and then the other list is itemized for all our meals. I keep telling myself I need to type a list up on the computer! I think after this post I will put it on my list of things to do before our family vacations hit this summer! 🙂 Another thing I do that may help someone is I wrap up items for the kids to open in the car (this really helps make the trip go so fast for the kids) So, I wrap up things like a coloring book and crayons, a little notebook and pencil, a fruit snack, capri sun, a little toy, a new movie, a game, etc. I do not spend very much on this, and actually I sometimes find things around the house they haven’t used or watched in a long time, the fun part is that it is wrapped so they don’t know what it is and they get so excited to open their little treasure! Then we space the “treasures” throughout the trip based on how many I actually got for them and how long the trip will take! It is just something fun to do! Good luck to everyone on all the summer fun!
We are going on a cross-country road trip in a couple of months and our 3-year-old has several allergies as well (her food ones are dairy, peanut, wheat, egg); we’ll be packing a lot of food, too! I love lists and already have a spreadsheet going 🙂 Good luck on your trip!
I keep a list on my phone in note app that has check boxes. Then I can check it off every time and uncheck them when I need to pack again!
Thanks for this reminder! I make a new list every time and if I just did it in Evernote it would be so much easier!!
Christina Bartholomew says
We travel a lot with our large family. A while back, I wrote these tips on my blog (http://handsfullmom.blogspot.com/2008/02/successfu…)
*Plan in advance. We did a fairly good job of this both times, but much better the second trip. On our first trip, we had two scheduled “rest days” but hadn’t decided how to fill them up. Instead of heading out and having a great time, we wasted valuable time deciding where to head and getting directions. Our Arizona trip didn’t have that problem. I had full itinerary planned for each day, including directions to everywhere we were going, and some alternative activities in case we changed our minds about what to do.
Another advantage to planning in advance is I felt I knew all about the attractions and what not to miss in Phoenix. AND, I was able to schedule us a trip to visit the upper ruins at Tonto National Park. Tours only go on Saturdays and Mondays, with 15 people each day, so you have to call a month or more in advance to get it scheduled.
*Go in the “off-season”. In November, we did the Southern California CityPass, including 3 days at Disneyland, 1 day at Universal Studios, 1 day at Sea World, and 1 day at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. November was a great time to go, as even on the weekend, nothing was very crowded. We did check the schedules at Disneyland carefully, though, to make sure we took advantage of days with special events. For instance, they opened earlier on Thursday and Friday than earlier in the week, and the Aladdin show was only on certain days.
*Stay at a place with a kitchen and laundry facilities Both times, we scheduled a week at a place with several bedrooms, a kitchen, and laundry right in the room. Surprisingly, the price was much less than what we would have spent for two hotel rooms. Traveling back both times, it was such a relief to have all the laundry done; I knew I wasn’t behind right when we got home, and we only packed half as many clothes because we could wash them right in the room. The kitchen saved us money both times, since we prepared all breakfasts and about half our dinners right there.
*Plan meals and snacks in advance. We had a full-out menu, including exactly what we needed to bring with us (for instance, we even brought a few tablespoons of flour for when we made chicken curry). On our California trip, we brought all of the food with us, which was very convenient, but the three full bins of food filled up our van and required us to use a car-topper. So to Arizona, we brought only the food we couldn’t easily buy (i.e. those few teaspoons of flour). We made up a shopping list in advance and did the shopping while we were there. Nothing like being prepared!
*Pack smart. The best trick I had was using gallon-size ziplock bags. A full day’s set of clothes, including socks and underwear, fits right in one of them. Closed tight, the clothes take up less room and you’re less likely to hear complaints about missing socks or underwear. I was even able to fit TWO outfits for the twins in one bag, so it really made things easy. Wake up in the morning, choose a bag, get dressed. Much less mess.
*Develop a travel-friendly hobby. Ours is rock-hunting. We started this last summer when Joey became a geology nut. Before our trip, we checked out “Gem Trails of Arizona” and “Gem Trails of Southern California,” and mapped out how far each rock-hunting site was from our route or destination. It made for fun stops, especially on those long 6 to 10 hour drives.
*Mapquest is your friend. I love Mapquest! Before I left, I printed up directions to all of our destinations, including travel times. Mapquest helped me figure out how far away the rock-hounding sites were from our destination, and it helped me plan out a perfect itinerary for the trip to Phoenix. Because of mapquest, we knew that if we were going to see both the Grand Canyon and Montezuma’s Castle on the way to Phoenix, we needed to leave early, and I mean early. We were on the road by 3:30 a.m., which gave us time to stop for breakfast. We hit the Grand Canyon around 11:00 in the morning, Montezuma’s Castle at about 3:30, and then a rockhounding site about 4:30. Then finally, to our final destination around 7:30 that night. Traveling was so nice with lots of planned stops along the way.
*Be willing to leave early. But be realistic about how this will affect your energy level. As I said, we left the first day at 3:30. That day couldn’t have been better. The kids took plenty of naps in the car, the stops were timed nicely, and we got to our destination without too much trouble or tiredness. That wasn’t the case, however, on Friday when we left Arizona for California. We knew it was a 6 hour trip, and we wanted to get to Disneyland in the morning, so we got up at 3:30 and finally left around 4:30 in the morning. A few of our stops took longer than we expected, and we made it to Disneyland at around noon. The only problem was that by 6 or 7 at night, the parental unit was tired. We had planned to take half the kids back to the hotel and then split up, with DH taking the older kids back to Disneyland, but we were too worn out. We got a good night’s rest so we could take full advantage of the next day at Disneyland. In hindsight, we should have gotten a full night’s rest, gotten to Disneyland later but with the energy to stay until it closed.
*Split up if necessary. Sometimes little kids need to nap. We did a lot of split-up trips to the pool, with one of us staying with Eliza while she slept and the other going to the pool. Our main splitting-up, though, happened when DH took three of the kids to Tonto National Monument. The hike to the upper ruins is not easy, and so he took the two older kids and my father-in-law (who had come along for the first few days of the trip). I’d scheduled the trek for five participants, though, and since MIL didn’t want to go, at the last minute, DH took along Sarah, who is more adventurous than her older brother Michael. The guides at the park were a bit taken aback when they saw three kids ready to go on the hike, but my kids proved tough. Sarah charmed all the tour people with her smile and her determination. With almost no help, she made it to the top, the youngest ever, according to the guide.
Meanwhile, MIL and I took Michael, Allison and Eliza to the Desert Botanical Gardens and to an outlet mall. We had a great time.
*Be flexible with your itinerary. We planned more than we did in Arizona, which was a good thing. We found time to do things we hadn’t planned, and we took time to relax and really enjoy the vacation. Almost every afternoon, instead of going to another venue, we went back to the hotel for Eliza to nap and the older kids to swim. One day, we had planned to go to the zoo and then a ghost town, but decided instead to head back towards the hotel after the zoo. We stopped at a fancy Mexican restaurant for lunch, where the kids couldn’t have been better behaved. It was a delicious, restful meal, and an unexpected highlight of our trip (never mind all the patrons staring at our ENORMOUS family).
*Bring a small flexible cooler filled with healthy food. Especially in places like Disneyland and Sea World, we found ourselves so grateful for the many choices of food we brought with us. We almost never had to buy anything at the parks, and when it was time to eat, we had yogurt, pudding, string cheese, and our personal favorite, Go-gurts to eat. We froze the Go-gurt so it was a refreshing treat the kids all loved. We also had a backpack full of other snacks, such as oranges and apples as well as junk like granola bars and chips. Lots of choices made waiting easy — anytime there was some downtime, we’d pass out snacks.
*Portable DVD players are great, but have a back-up plan. We bought a new one for Christmas, with the idea that both rows of kids could watch movies along the way. It worked great for the first two hours, but after that, yep, our brand-new-never-been-used DVD player broke. So we needed a back-up plan. Luckily, see the next tip.
*Books on CD are great. Current favorites — Junie B. Jones (even the 3 year olds understand & listen) & The Uglified Ducky. The Uglified Ducky is a series of short skits and songs that really helped fill in the short times when kids were crabby or not wanting to listen. The books on CD also help a lot for the driver, who can’t exactly watch a movie. We probably did movies half the time and stories the other half.
*Check out membership options.. Sometimes a family membership can REALLY come in handy. Our local zoo membership gave us free entry into a small fun zoo in Santa Ana in November, plus half-price entry into the Phoenix zoo. The week before we went to Arizona, we bought a membership at the Discovery Center in Salt Lake. For $180, we save about $65 each time we go to our local science center, plus get in free to lots of places across the country. We saved about $60 and got in free at the Arizona Science Center. We’ve since been back to the Discovery Center once and plan on visiting some reciprocal centers this summer, so we’ll really get our money’s worth.
*Think ahead about overpriced trinkets.. Bring your own when possible. We bought ponchos for $1 before we went to California. They take up so little space in a backpack, but come in so handy on a cool day when you want to go on a water ride. We also brought a huge supply of glow sticks for a few dollars at Halloween. We had plenty of bracelets and necklaces at Disneyland, and had plenty to share with kids sitting nearby as we waited for the Fantasia show or the parade. We went to the Disney Outlet Store and bought everyone hats for $1 and wore those to the parks.
*Pack some bags for the whole family. We put everyone’s swimming suits, plus two life jackets for the twins and a few blow-up water toys (lots of fun, but take up so little space) in the same bag so when it was time to go swimming, we only had to open one bag, not 6 or 7. Same thing with Church clothes. All of the dresses, shoes, ties, etc. went into one bag.
Boy, Christina… I want to go on a vacation with you! 🙂
This tips above are great. I’ve gotta use them. My only tip is to travel with extended family. I get a little relaxation when aunts and uncles and cousins can watch my boys for an hour or two during the vacation!
Christina Bartholomew says
Aw, you should! Seriously, we travel a lot, mostly because DH has a stressful profession and works from home part of the time. He feels like he can’t really get away from his work unless he’s REALLY away, which works well for us.
LOVE these ideas! We also use the bags (Costco or Walmart) that you squish all the air out of and they get super flat. I can get five kids clothes inside one suitcase!
To answer your questions, I’ve used plastic grocery bags (tie the handles together) inside the bigger bag and right now I have some little canvas bags that I use for the underwear/socks and swimming suits.
I have my big kids bring me a certain number of underwear and pairs of socks per person, a pair of PJ’s per person, a swim suit per person. But I put everything in and pack up the clothes so I know what I’ve got. I let each kid bring one small toy or book (that they won’t be too sad to loose – I explain there’s a good chance whatever we bring might not make it back home!).
Lindsay C says
Both my parents and my husbands parents live in Wisconsin but my husband and our 2 children live in Texas so we travel back to Wisconsin twice a year – 2 weeks during the summer and 2 weeks over Christmas. Since we’ve been doing it at least twice a year for the past 3 years we’ve gotten our system pretty well ironed out. For packing we take one adult suitcase and one child suitcase where I put all our underwear, socks, and pajamas in the zipper pouch inside the suitcase for easy access. We use the outer pouches of our suitcase to stuff a few extra diapers but buy the diapers and wipes we’ll use over the 2 weeks when we arrive at our final destination. Here are a few other flying tips I posted on my blog last month after flying alone with my 3 year old and 21 month old.
-bring a stroller with storage space – I had the choice between our umbrella stroller (not much storage underneath) and our Graco (a decent sized storage basket) and am glad I chose the Graco so I didn’t have to carry our diaper bag and jackets everywhere we went it made running through the airport to make our connection a bit easier. And since no matter what stroller I brought I would have to gate check it, it didn’t really matter that it was a bit bigger.
-stock up on “prizes” from the dollar store – I got this idea from a parenting magazine a while back and first did it with Roy when he was about 19 months old. Go the the dollar store and buy a bunch of goofy little toys and wrap them up for your child to open during traveling. My kids each got a prize when we got on the first airplane, after lunch in the airport, while we were waiting for the second airplane, and while we were in the air on our second airplane. The unwrapping part takes up some time so don’t forget that part! My kids’ favorites were a sticker book with stickers, a mini magna-doodle, and some little search and find books. Roy’s favorite was Go-Fish, he really loves games and had never played before so it took up a lot of time in the airport.
-if you’re unsure of the listening ability of your toddler, get a leash :o) – I swore I would never put my children in a leash but desperate times call for desperate measures and I was glad I had it. Lilli is a very independent child who loves to do things for herself. If her independence is taken away she is very vocal about her disappointment, so keeping her in control was crucial for our sanity on this trip. I knew she would want to walk and that Roy would want to ride in the stroller so the leash was perfect! It was a puppy backpack thing from Wal-Mart and was less than $10. She liked helping put the buckles together and held the beginning of her “tail” while I held the end. She only fell a few times for while wanting to go a different direction than me but she quickly learned that wasn’t going to work. She became so attached to her little puppy she even wore it when she got home.
-only take one carry-on – It may take some creative packing but I was able to get extra clothes, 4 prizes for each kid, the portable dvd player, a case with dvds, my purse with my wallet and cell phone, some lotion and lip balm, wipes, diapers, wet-ones, and two milks all into my diaper bag. My diaper bag can be worn like a backpack which was great because it gave me both of my arms too!
-don’t forget a change of clothes – We have been peed on, puked on and spilled upon many times while traveling. I make sure to pack an extra change of clothes for each kid and have had to resort to buying myself a new shirt once. There seems to be some law of physics where if you pack the extra clothes you won’t need them but if you don’t pack them you will encounter disaster and maybe some half naked children.
-check your car seats – We have traveling car seat bags for each of our kid’s seats and they are amazing. When we get to the airport we just take the seat out, zip it up in the pouch and check it – for free!! Car seats are one of the few things left you can check for free. When packing is tight we’ve also stuffed the seats with diapers, presents, coats, make-up, and any other extras we can’t fit in our suitcases and they still didn’t charge us for them. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to drag the car seats through the airport by myself.
-traveling toddler car seat strap – If you want to bring your car seat with you and have a rolling carry-on this is the product for you! Traveling Toddler We bought one of these for traveling with all 4 of us. We thought Roy would do best on the plane if he got to sit in his car seat so we brought it with us and used this strap to convert it into a stroller thing. He loved it, wouldn’t get out of it, and even fell asleep in it at one point on a long lay over! It takes a little bit of time to adjust the straps but it was worth it for us! (I’ll put up a pic of Roy in his car seat at the airport when Josh gets home with his computer.)
I feel like I live in the car. Actually, we’ve lived in the car for 6 month of the last 14, now that I count. I have three kids 8, 6 and 3 and usually a couple extra kids or adults tagging along as well.
My husband would kill me if I didn’t say our number one road trip tip is camping instead of hotels. We just look ahead and find a campground, pull in as late as 11 pm, set up the tent and throw the kids in there. Its not for everyone, but it sure does limit the amount of lugging luggage that we do. It also gives me a chance to clean out/ clean up the car every morning before we hit the road again.
Also, I use the plastic zippered bags that comforters and sheets and other bedding come in as everyone’s luggage bag. They are easy to see into and you can even turn the cardboard item label thing around and write the family member’s name on it for easy bag recognition. Plus, they are small and generally smooshy in a way that rollie-bags and duffle bags are not, yet they also stack like cubes. Each person in the family gets their own plastic linen bag and a smaller one inside (like the bags that pillowcases come in) that holds undies and socks.
We’ve tried to detox the kids from DVDs and video games on this last 18 hour trip we did last week and although it had its moments, it worked out pretty well. I worked hard to get about 18 hours of music on my iPod so we could all listen and sing along… and I have to say that usually my husband and I just listen to music we like. I decided this was unfair and got about 16 hours of kids’ music (mostly Disney Collection) and it made all the difference. My 3 year old sat in the back of the station wagon (facing backwards), surrounded by luggage and with our pet chicken at her feet for almost the entire drive without making a sound except for singing along to the music and letting us know she needed a potty break. It would have been perfect except that she found a black sharpie during the last two hours and decorated EVERYTHING that had been encapsulating her for the last three days, including herself and the chicken.
Amazon.com has a great selection of travel activity books too, which have been great points of discussion.
We ALWAYS have the supplies for PB&Js. The ingredients are generally impervious to heat and cold. Everybody likes them. They are easy to make. They are filling. They don’t require a ice chest. They aren’t as messy as crackers. Cheap. We don’t make them in advance, the person in shotgun just makes them on their lap as needed.
I don’t fret about pajamas too much while road tripping. I just make sure the kids wear clothes comfortable enough to sleep in and have them change clothes in the morning… its just too much work to try and get the PJs out and change a sleeping child to just throw her into the tent or hotel bed.
If the kids see a playground and the weather is okay, we stop. It keeps them looking out the windows for those miraculous interstate playgrounds.
Hope this helps like the other posts have helped me!
April Perry says
This has been one of the best comment strings I’ve seen on this site! I love hearing all these great ideas from so many experienced mothers. It’s so fun to see everyone helping each other out. I wish I had more to add, but you ladies have done such a great job!
We have become pretty creative with the activities we bring on trips–a roll of tin foil to make “foil creatures,” little booklets for each of our children to read that teach specific values, and lyrics to our favorite songs printed out so we can all sing the right words. We try to make our car trips meaningful and fun.
We also do a little welcome when everyone gets in the car: ”Welcome to Perry Airlines. We’re so happy to have you aboard. Your flight attendant, Mommy, will be distributing drinks in about 20 minutes. If you need to exit the car, please do so by asking politely for Dad to pull over to the side of the curb. The temperature is 78 degrees, with a light wind and plenty of sun… etc.” The children get a kick out of that, for some reason.
Melanie Vilburn says
I like to be a “vacation facilitator” rather than a vacation organizer. It’s much more relaxing. The goal of having their successful growth be what steers the journey is…freeing. EVERYTHING can go wrong and it’s OK. Instead of mom “making everything OK” for everyone, I let them know THEY are OK no matter what they discover through the experience. Yes, we go through Chaosland, but they come out wiser.
We always have such rip-roaring memories afterward too.
This is a super helpful thread! I am a planner and I purposely didn’t do much advance planning for our upcoming 10-hour drive this week, so I could only stress about it for 3 days instead of 3 weeks. 🙂
So, thanks to all who have posted ideas here! I am going to try the one duffle for all kids’ clothes. Last road trip, our son lost his bag of clothes by setting it down in the hotel room and then the drapes got closed, covering it up. we searched everywhere before it got found and yes I got all stressed and worried. The one-bag idea would fix this! Also, I might try the no PJ’s idea. I think. We are staying at a cabin with a laundry room so if we have to wash some clothes, we can. I also am excited to use the point system (earn screen time).
We had a fabulous audio book that everyone from hubby down to my 5-year old loved (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School, by Andrew Clements. 5 volumes. We got it from the library). It kept us all engaged and entertained for 32 hours of driving. Not bad! We barely used any of our other planned activities because we all loved the story so much. I highly recommend this book!
I love the idea of printed lyrics for signing along, and the tin foil creature idea! What a great community this is! Thanks my friends!
Koni Smith says
I just got back a couple of weeks ago from a 2 1/2 week, 6000 mile road trip across the country. One thing we’ve learned to do over the years when we stop overnight on the way to our destination, is to put everyone’s pjs, plus clothes for the next day (or next 2 days) into 1 small suitcase or duffle bag. That way, when we get to our destination (either hotel or family or friend’s house), we just need to take 1 suitcase out of the van. We turn it around and it becomes a dirty clothes bag (maybe you are cleaner than us, but it seems like everyone spills something on their clothes while we are traveling). Then, when we get to our destination, I just take those 2 or 3 suitcases/duffle bags and know that I need to wash what is in them.
I learned this summer that some of my kid’s map reading skills were lacking, so, instead of answering their question when they asked how far to the next destination, I told them to look at the map (we’ve got one of those big Rand McNally ones that you buy from WalMart). My 10 year old became very proficient at reading the map and was really helpful to me as I was driving! That also helped time pass quickly for him (it’s also a Cub Scout Webelos requirement – Traveler).
With 5 boys, I am always looking for ways to help them achieve something in Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts as we travel. Take their Cub Scout or Boy Scout book along with you in the car and use those miles to pass off achievements or electives! There are so many things they can pass off while you are traveling or as you see new things. Can you tell I’ve been a den mother for a LONG time?! 🙂
Great tips! I loved reading through them and had just one more to add.
No matter the age of your kids, keep a small potty in your car. We have the BabyBjorn smart potty and it is perfect! All of our kids are beyond yhe potty training days but on road trips we ALL (yup, even works for adults if needed) use it. Our boys are 6, 8, & 10 so they pee in it like a bucket and then we toss it into the grass and wipe it down with a baby wipe. Our daughter is 4 so she just uses it like a potty.
If they absolutely must go poop and there is no great spot to stop, we have already had them also do this in the little potty. If you have diapers or pull ups on hand, just open one up and line it with that. If not, place a plastic grocery bag in the potty and put a layer of tissues, napkins, paper towels, wipes (whatever you have on hand) over top just to help absorb the grossness. 🙂 when they are finished, pull the bag out, tie it up and put it in a ziplock or another grocery bag (just to be sure). At your next available rest stop, throw the whole thing in the garbage.
I know this tip is kinda gross but seriously it has been a game changer for our family! And honestly sometimes we choose the potty over some nasty bathroom options 🙂
I love to travel, find that new place I’ve never been to and we have a lot but with little kids our best vacations have been when we go back to the same familiar spot. But if I really want a break (especially mental load one), I’ve found that sticking to a place you love with amenities that matter most for your kids ( indoor pool since our kid overheats, kiddie pool for little one, on the beach/close to enjoy the view while littles nap and be able to enjoy beach multiple times a day and take breaks) can be amazing. We know what to pack, what to expect (no surprises with dirty rooms or messed up reservations, noisy hotels, hazards), where to shop, eat, what we want to do. We already have a routine set up from previous times and the kids feel at home immediately. I now understand the beauty of a family vacation home. Never thought I would suggest this and still love exploring but with kids who aren’t yet indépendant we’ve found what works for us!
Please share! Where is this location? Sounds amazing!
Part of the stress is all the work getting ready to leave and wanting to leave the house clean too. While the children should naturally pitch in and help, I noticed my stress level didn’t always encourage the kids to help in the most positive ways (aka yelling or frustration).
So, I started a “Trip Store” and everyone is so excited to pitch in! I take the kids to pick out a few activity books/movies from Half Price Books or from a similar place. They pick a few treats from the grocery and I also get a few surprises. They can’t have what they have chosen. All the purchases including treats go into the Trip Store. A couple days leading up the trip, after we accomplish a task (such as laundry, tidying bedroom, preparing car, packing) whomever helps willingly and with a good attitude gets to pick something from the Trip Store and it goes straight into their backpack. (No playing with it before the trip). Treats go into a labeled ziplock with their name on the bag. The treat bag stays in their backpack. Mom doesn’t have to pass out treats, and they feel empowered managing their own “stash.” It’s not the healthiest, but it’s vacation and they think it’s a blast. We catch up on veggies and fruits at our regular meals.
It’s a win-win. My sanity is restored, and they are excited about the fun things they get to do and eat because they’ve worked to earn it.
(They are still expected to help regardless, but if they do it well, with a good attitude, and in a timely manner then they can pick something out from the Trip Store.)
Loving this!!! May have to try this for our first family trip since the kids were born!
Oh, I love all these tips! I do the Ziploc bags for clothes too–also a big help if someone gets carsick! I have six kids and 3 of them tend to get sick at the slightest curve.
I wrote a how-to post on my blog packed full of tips and tricks last year after I drove from Indiana to Utah with 5 kids–by myself–when I was 25 weeks pregnant. It was actually a great trip!!! http://theirchronicles.blogspot.com/2016/06/last-day-of-school-vacation-planning.html
I have a list of my computer one is a list for a winter vacation one of the list for summer vacation. I write what each kid needs to bring, I have four. I then print it up, hand it over to each child. They are responsible for packing their own clothes in the bag. I don’t mind if the clothes are mismatched but it makes it easy.
We are a family that travels a lot! We usually fly with our five little ones four or five times a year. We have lots of Travel tricks that work for our family. One I want to share is we always have a money chart that the kids can earn trip money for our upcoming vacation (because we always have one coming up). They have the opportunity to do simple tasks like make their bed for the day before school, come to family scriptures on time, do their daily chore before 5:00, put their backpack away after school. These jobs are each with a quarter. A quarter is not much per job, but it adds up quite a bit when you start this in a month or two advance, plus they usually slack some days. We just choose things our family needs to do better for the chart. When we go on our trip that money is child’s own money for souvenirs, special treats like ice cream, entertainment or anything they really want to buy. It is a great motivator for them and in the end the repitition gets them in a habit. Another plus is they develope money management skills with the money they earn.
We just discovered the Wow in the World podcast. It had 5 children, 4-11 enthralled on a recent trip. The cousins were all super into it. (There is a little potty humor in some of them.)
The discussion questions on the website led to some fantastic conversations, practice taking turns, and lots of laughter!
Often when we are road tripping, we stop along the way at homes of different relatives. If I feel comfortable with it, I’ll ask them to watch my kids for an hour or two so I can take a much needed break! It benefits everyone, because my kids get to spend more quality time with relatives we rarely see, and I get some peace and quiet with the hubby. 🙂
All these ideas are awesome!!! If I wasn’t lazy I would probably use some of them:). My idea of a vacation is where I can do LESS work, which means very minimal prep, and saving a little extra money beforehand so we can eat out for most meals. I love NOT cooking on vacation! Vacation for me also means not doing laundry, and letting the kids jump on the hotel beds! 😀