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Travel Tips

Playdate crashers, I miss you.  We have moved into our new house and everything is wonderful, except…*dun dun DUUUUN* We have no Internet.  But I’m exploring every avenue to make sure we stay connected!  Stay tuned, I won’t be gone forever!

Sunset Beach, NC (Like that hair on me? Wind-blown. Very cool.)

The thought of a family vacation away from normal life is downright intoxicating, isn’t it?  You think of long walks on the beach, soaking up the sun and surf, dinners at local dining establishments, and lazy afternoons where you might end up discovering a lighthouse or perhaps finding a hidden treasure trove off of the beaten path of tourists.

But somewhere in between the planning and packing, it hits you:  The children will be there too.  NONE OF THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN, IS IT? The disturbance in schedules, the diapers, the naps – oh my! Perhaps panic sets in, maybe you think about canceling your trip because of the hassle.  Maybe you don’t overreact but you do wonder how enjoyable your trip will be with your children.

Never fear, my friends.  For I have some vacation tips based on my recent experiences to help you enjoy your time away…

  1. Don’t Go Alone. If your idea of a great time on vacation includes sleeping in, I suggest traveling with your

    Enjoying ice cream with our just-turned-3 year old while little brother stays home with his grandparents

    children’s grandparents.  Grandparents love to spend time alone with their grandkids and what better time than in the mornings, walking the beach or simply enjoying breakfast.  You’ll feel refreshed when you get up for a long day of fun.

It doesn’t have to be grandparents, though.  You might get an aunt or a good friend to get up early with your kids for a day or two and if you play your cards right, you might be able to have dinner out alone without the kids.  The bottom line, though, is that you will likely have a more enjoyable and relaxing vacation if you have some backup along.

2. Don’t Travel Together. Contrary to the idea of item #1, I don’t recommend physically traveling together if you are arriving at your destination by car.  Caravans are a nightmare, whether you’re vacationing with family or friends.  Someone will always be driving too fast, or too slow, or stopping to pee too much, or stopping to pee too little.  Trust me.  Make plans early to drive separately.

3. Don’t Over-Pack. You really don’t need to pack up your entire house for a week-long vacation.  I tend to overanalyze my packing, but I was pleasantly surprised that I really had packed well for our vacation, despite taking our whole stash of cloth diapers and having a rental car (a full-size sedan, smaller than the SUV we are used to driving).  I didn’t have to leave anything behind when we finally got down to loading the car, which was my fear.

If you are taking a beach vacation, don’t overdo it on the beach gear.  We have borrowed beach canopies the last two years and if you have one that’s easy to put up, they can be much easier to deal with than an umbrella.  Try to anticipate what you’ll actually be doing at the beach.  Will you be walking in the sand?  Playing in the water?  Digging in the sand?  If you don’t plan to spend a lot of time sitting in the sun, you probably don’t need a beach chair.  If you think you’ll be lounging near your umbrella or canopy with a newborn, you probably don’t need much gear for water or sand play.  Remember the opening sequence from “Yes, Dear”?  Yeah, don’t be them.

4. Take A Break. We ended up breaking up our trip into two days, since the boys and I were already five hours from home visiting my parents; my husband joined us on Friday evening and we all spent the night at my parents’ house before leaving early Saturday morning for the beach.  Our drive home went similarly.  This really helped the boys not get too cranky on the long trip and helped me not to lose my mind.

5. Know Your Limits. Even though we have been taking an annual trip to the beach in North Carolina for several

Taking a chest punch from my youngest

years now, I have to admit that I really don’t like the beach.  I love the idea of the beach, but in reality, the sand drives me nuts.  I don’t like the heat, and the thought of baking my brains out in disgusting salt water all day makes me want to never leave my house.  Knowing this, we can plan to only spend a small amount of time on the beach and do other things for the rest of the day.  As it turns out, because of when our boys need to eat and sleep, there really aren’t too many hours that need to be filled with activity, so our days were pretty easy to plan.

6. Enjoy One Another. No matter what you end up doing, whether it’s spending a lot of time at the beach or a pool where you’re staying, a vacation isn’t a great experience unless you concentrate on enjoying your time with your family and the others with you.  Vacations are mostly about relaxation, so don’t complain away your chance for a great trip.

Okay playdate crashers, what say you?  Where do I have it wrong?  What would you add?  Let’s make a great list of tips so we can refer back to it before next year’s vacations!

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About Krista

Krista is a full-time working mom of two boys, currently aged 6 and 7. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, Brandon.