Family Trips: Getting There

This week the Sally J household is counting down to our family trip. According to our five-year-old, we have “three more sleeps” and then we’ll be on the road. She’s exactly right — Saturday morning we’ll be hitting the road and heading to Orlando.

After my first family trip as a family of three (the five-year-old was a mere 23 months at the time), I stopped calling it vacation. I adopted the term “family trip” because, well, we’re going on a trip as a family.

Vacation pre-kids meant staying up late, sleeping in and relaxing. It meant taking in the local sights, hitting a local cantina, and generally enjoying a travel destination.

Vacation with kids is a lot like being at home with kids. They still need to be fed. They still need to be dressed. They still have a strange affinity¬† for a particular blanket that can never be more than an arm’s length away. They still wake up at 2 a.m., regardless of whether you stayed up late or had plans to sleep until 10 a.m. This does not fit into my description of vacation, so rather than be disappointed, I refer to such times as family trips.

The key to an enjoyable family trip is in the planning.

Plan to spend more money than you think you will. (The price of gas has gone up a ridiculous amount since I made our vacation budget)

Plan to pack and eat more snacks than you think you’ll need. (In four hours at home, my kids might nosh on a granola bar. In the car? They’ll eat three and an apple, and wash it all down with a beverage)

Plan to only spend a half day at any given attraction, even if you’ve paid the full day’s admission.(For real.)

Plan to leave at least one restaurant with a screaming child. (You can’t expect to have a week’s worth of pleasant meals, can you?)

Plan to clean up at least one vomit mess at some point in your journey. (If your kid is prone to motion sickness, staying in the car longer will not make it go away.)

Plan to make memories you’ll be laughing at for years to come.The memory may not be captured in a family photo in front of the attraction you’d hope to see, but there will be moments you’ll remember forever. (Mine’s pushing a stroller around a hotel parking lot at midnight, with a toddler who was refusing to sleep, or let anyone on our floor sleep, one hot July night en route to Outer Banks).

What do you remember from family trips of your own? How is being the grown-up different than being the kid along for the ride?


3 replies on “Family Trips: Getting There”

Oh, be prepared for the vomit. I say this as the child who constantly vomited. I projectile vomited hot dogs all over my sister when I was 4. When I was eight my brother and I double-teamed: I vomited in the puke-bag ( a neccessity! bring many!) and he puked on himself, our mom and the car ( my parents sold it after that trip). Until my parents drugged me to high heaven with gravol, every.time I was in a car for more than 20 minutes I puked constantly. Be prepared! Bring gravol, water, a spare change of clothes not packed in the trunk, wet wipes, puke bags, and air freshener for when the day’s driving is over.

Have fun on your family trip Sally J. !

I call family vacations “business trips,” because if your job is staying at home with your kids, that’s exactly what they are. They’re fun, but not relaxing in the least.

I will echo the vomiting bit. Someone always gets sick on our vacations, so if we can make it happen with work and stuff we try to schedule in a couple of extra “just in case days” in case we have to shuffle our other plans around if anyone has to spend a day or two in bed.

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