WT 014: What Are Your Tips for Summer Vacation?

The kids are out of school and you have a relaxing trip away from the chaos of life on your mind. It’s summertime and for some families, that means a vacation! This week, Karen shares her experience and wisdom for the question: What Are Your Tips for Summer Vacation?

Question 1: “Did you and Greg wait until your kids were a certain age to take them on family vacation? We have toddlers and an infant and I’m not sure when is too early to start traveling together. Any general tips for taking vacations with little kids?”

Karen’s Answer: Great question! No, we did not take our children on vacation when they were little mainly because we lived at the beach. We would go to the beach every week when the kids were little and our only big trips were packing up and heading to Georgia to visit the kid’s grandparents (who kindly had baby beds for us).

I do remember taking the children to Disney when Kelsey was 6, Emily 4, and Taylor 2. I remember we went after Thanksgiving, when the crowds were smaller and the parks closed early. The main thing I remember was that the children slept hard! I guess my advice would be IF you go when they are little try to make it as easy as you can. Don’t kill yourself. I do remember telling Greg, “Disney is not magical, it’s just as hard here as it was at home.”

I think it’s important to look at your family and be honest with yourself in evaluations.

Question 2: “This summer, we’re taking our first-ever family vacation with our 3 kiddos. We are headed to the beach, and our itinerary includes a lot of relaxation time. What were some things that you packed or planned for your vacations that kept your little ones entertained away from home?”

Karen’s Answer: We vacationed with Greg’s family every summer at Hilton Head, and his family does not rest. You are busy from sun up to sun down. I used to call it the Kennedy compound because they are a go, go, go family. But, we had a great time going and doing. In Hilton Head we took lots of bike rides, the kids loved it and so did I. We played games on the beach and surfed with boogie boards, we also took a big jigsaw puzzle and put it together all week as a family. Those were some really fun times!

I loved all those activities. I would take a book and also sit on the beach and read my book, the only time I ever read! It was an escape for me. You don’t have to worry about always entertaining your children, let them learn to entertain themselves. My children had very different interests—Kelsey may have wanted to play in the ocean all day with Greg, whereas Emily and Abby preferred the pool and Taylor loved riding bikes. Let everyone find something they like to do and enjoy their vacation.

This year I am taking a book written by my friend, Scott Bowen, called Here’s a Question. It has 357 questions to ask people in your family as conversation starters. I’m SO excited about this book!

Question 3: “What are your tips or tricks for flying or driving by yourself with your kids?”

Karen’s Answer: Good gracious, one time I flew with three small children to Memphis, TN from Virginia. We had to stop to change flights in St. Lois. Oh boy! Kelsey was 5, Emily 3 and Taylor 1. I must have been desperate to do that, but I wanted to see Greg. I had snacks, toys in my bag. I remember Taylor saw these airplanes hanging from the ceiling and started running away from me to go see the planes. I told Kelsey to watch Emily and I would be back. Ugh! It gives me anxiety just thinking about it. But, everyone was safe and we made it.

Have a conversation with the kids before you leave, tell them, the trip is long, we will stop for breakfast then lunch and maybe a few stops for gas and potty breaks, other than that, we are not stopping.

It is hard traveling with children, but especially hard when you have small children. Cut yourself some slack. Realize that most vacations are not picture perfect, even when things go wrong, you are still building memories.

 Question 4: “What advice do you have about souvenirs on vacation? We tried to explain to our kids that they have a $15 budget, but I think it was too early for them to understand what that meant. We had one child choose a 50 cent magnet, and cry when we told him he could buy something else. And we had our other child have a meltdown when we told him he couldn’t get the $100 item he wanted. Do you have any advice? We are hoping this year’s vacation is tear-free.”

Karen’s Answer: I think tears are part of every vacation. We just got back and I assure you, there were tears. It’s just part of life. I would give your child the $15 and let them manage it and decide on their own. So to the one that had the meltdown over the $100 item, just say, “I know that stinks, I wanted this purse and it was too much too.” You can also tell them ahead of time, we are giving you $15, but if you want to bring extra money of your own, you can do that.”

Our Disney trip we told the kids we were paying for the tickets, hotel, three meals a day and they were responsible for raising any extra funds they may need. We planned for a year for this trip. When we got to Disney, everyone had their own cash and it was on them to manage it. It was fun watching all their personalities come out. They would ask, “Can I get an ice cream?” I would say, “Sure, if you want to buy it.” Then they would go check it out and usually come back and say, “Forget it, it’s $5.” That is a mom’s dream come true!

Resources Mentioned This Episode:

A Family Beach Activity… Here’s a Question by Scott Bowen

A Moment of Stillness for a Quick “Me Time” on Vacation… 365 Moments with God

A Beach Read… Letters to Moms

A Great Way to Teach Kids About Money… Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

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