Updated: Jul 27, 2018
Anyone else look at other families’ travel pictures on social media and wonder HOW IN THE WORLD it looks so fun with children? Because I’m going to be real with you, sometimes just going to Costco with all four of my kids is stressful enough.
Between the stress of making sure you packed all one million of the things you might need, taking potty breaks, breastfeeding breaks, and sanity breaks, I’m normally doubting my decision to travel with kids before we even arrive at our destination. But after quite a few failed trips and finally some successful ones, we’ve found what works for us! Traveling with kids doesn't have to be miserable - it most definitely is crazy, but that’s what memories end up being made of!
We had a quick getaway for my 28th birthday, and I had a lot of people ask HOW we travel with all of our kids! So here's a few tips that work for us!
1. Let it go
First of all, let it go. Let go of your expectations. Kids thrive off of routine, and traveling is one big radical change in routine. For us, this means that we expect a hard first night, and we expect the travel time to take an extra 20% longer. We stop at their favorite place for lunch on the way up (hey, In n Out!) and don't worry about snacks getting all over the car. It means that we go into bedtime letting them do something fun, like stay up late or go to the hot tub. We let go of expecting no tantrums, sleeping through the night or having easy meals. For every family its different - but there’s always some level of expectations that go out the window!
2. Set yourself up for success
This is the number 1, all encompassing suggestion I have you: set yourself - and your kids - up for success. I used to feel like I needed to be a certain way - fun enough, patient enough, energetic enough - to make a vacation good enough for my kids. But I got tired of this idea of doing more to be enough and settled into I am enough. But being enough also has a reality around it - I know myself, and my kids, just as you know yourself and your kids better than anyone!
I know that I need space (see more in #3). I know that my kids still need naps. I know that my kids need unstructured time to just play. And so we always make sure now to pick destinations that fit our family. We tried too many times to go on trips that sounded fun, but left us stressed trying to make it fun for our family.
So how do you set yourself up for success? Pick a destination that you know will be ideal for the season your family is in. Our personal choice is North Lake Tahoe - staying at the resorts during the summer is PERFECT, because most people only come for winter sports. This is the kind of destination that sets us up for success - being at a resort means everything we need is in walking distance: coffee shops, yummy dinner places, hot tub, swimming pools, and activities to keep the kids busy! Some of our highlights were taking the Air Tram and spending the day at Squaw's High Camp to swim and see the amazing view, having an amazing birthday dinner at West Shore Cafe, and staying up late swimming in the hot tub right outside our lodge room!
3. Be comfortable
Remember the days before kids, where you'd stay at the cheapest place you could find on Expedia because you're only in the room to sleep? Yeah, those days are gone. With kids, having a comfortable place to sleep can make or break the vacation! We always look for accommodations that have a separate bedroom, so that the kids have their quiet sleeping space and we have our own space. We stayed at the Redwolf Lodge at Squaw because they have 1 and 2 bedroom unites available. The first night we were there, our 9 month old was so thrown off from traveling - referring back to tip #1, we just change our expectations and roll with the hard nights. BUT, we’re only able to “roll with it” because we had space. We didn't have to worry about a crying baby waking up the older boys, and the next day she was able to have a space to nap without being disturbed by playful boys.
Being comfortable for us means being able to relax - a lot of hotels are so industrial, they're not really set up to just relax there. Redwolf Lodge had space for our kids to run around, and we were able to let them play in the hot tub easily since it was just outside our room!
Most importantly: You know your family! You know what will set them up for success. Go at YOUR pace - not the pace expected of you. Perfect vacations aren’t needed to make childhood memories - just a space where you can all relax and have fun outside of the normal routine of daily life.
If you want to try out our North Lake Tahoe trip to enjoy resort life during the summer, use the promo code V6ZR4 for 10% off your stay at Redwolf Lodge! (Also good at this sister resort) Promo code is good through 9/30/18 to stay by 12/31/18 (some holiday blackouts apply)!