Between last summer and this summer, we’ve taken 5 trips with our 5 young kids. Last year we took 3 big trips with our 5 kids FOUR and under and this summer with our five kids five and under. We’ve learned a lot and I’ve received a lot of questions about how we manage travel, vacation, and camping with 5 young kids! Listen in here:
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1) Look for easy ways to save money
We spent way more on our trips last year. But we still found great ways to save. And our two trips this year are far cheaper.
FOOD is the biggest part of this. I bring crazy amounts of food on all of our trips and it helps so much! We were able to bring food into all three parks we went to last summer: Legoland, Universal Studios, and the San Diego Zoo. AND obviously this summer camping and our cabin at the lake!
We hardly had to buy food for the kids on the road and we only bought one meal for them inside the park. This helped us save a ton of money. So plan ahead and bring snacks and lunches for the kiddos (or the whole family)!
2) Adjust your expectations – this is KEY!
We are going camping next week for the first time ever as a family of 7. It’s going to be fun and also a little difficult. But the key to this camping trip (and all others) is adjusting expectations!
Our camping trip will be with our Church and there will be a lot of fun things going on. However, I already know we won’t be able to do everything!
3) Remember they are tired as well
This goes hand in hand for me with point #2. I needed to remember that all these little guys were just as tired (if not more) than myself and Jason and that we needed to give grace.
This struck me hard one night. We had just left Legoland after an emotional hour (see point #4) and we decided to head out early and go to Denny’s for dinner. Jason and I were both drained and the kids were mostly good, but a little wild. They were a bit louder and more rambunctious than I would normally allow at Denny’s.
I could feel my impatience grow, but then I remember that they were just as tired as I was and I needed to remember that! Little kids can get heavily affected by being out of their normal routine, in new places, etc. So I had to not care about what the people the table over were thinking…and just give my kids some grace!
4) Give EVERYONE grace
Along with giving the little kids grace, I had to remember to give JASON more grace. It’s very very easy when you are all stuck in the car together for 10+ hours together, or all sharing 1 room, to let the little things get to you. Or just lash out when tired or weary.
A good lesson for me was just to remember that everyone is tired and to give everyone a little dose of GRACE! I think this one went a long way in happy moods and joyful hearts…even when we were getting tired.
5) Make sure little ones know the game plan
This is a lesson we learned at Legoland. We should have had a game plan for the kids in case anyone got lost. Listen to the episode above for the full story. But long story short, we lost Malachi in the park for about 25 minutes. Thankfully he ran into a Legoland worker right away and it just took a while to connect with us.
The next day, the first thing we did when we went to the park was give everyone a thorough explanation of what they should do if they get lost (i.e. go into one of the shops and talk to the person behind the counter). From then on, we would remind the boys each day we went somewhere new.
In hindsight that seems like a no brainer, but we just didn’t think of that before. So learn from our scary 20 minutes and make sure your kids know a game plan before hand!
6) Load up on fun activities
During our trips, we had lots of down time. We had 8+ hours in the car many times, time in the hotel before and after activities, times the kids were waiting on us parents, etc.
And while I am not against them watching a movie while we are waiting in the hotel room, etc. I also want them to have other activities and things to do. And as our kids are all still young, no one has their own device for movies or games or anything.
Before our big road trips last summer, I went to Dollarstore and loaded up a backpack with different activities. And every few hours, or as needed, we passed out something new: A new coloring book, match book car, activity, etc.