We’ve gone on a bunch of trips in the last few years. Some just for the day, some for longer. We’ve also done it in a whole lot of ways- planes, trains and automobiles!
Here are some of our tips for keeping it memorable and fun (and educational, because when you homeschool it just becomes a part of your life.)
- Reasonable expectations. This is HUGE. Having children will always be a bit more work than not having children. They will have the same (or more) needs and issues when you are out as opposed to when you are home. If you’re travelling as a family, you can’t expect long periods of contemplative silence in the car, or sleeping in until checkout time at the hotel. Know when “breaks” will be. Discuss with your partner or kids times that you will be having a rest. What always works for us is Dad sleeps in, and Mom naps in the afternoons. We try to make sure some semblance of this occurs. If it can’t, we figure it out ahead of time or allow for extra rest time later. I don’t expect to read a novel front to back with no interruptions. But, planning ahead, we can reasonably expect to give each other time to find rest and relaxation in the ways we enjoy.
- Plan ahead. Have a back up plan. And a Plan C, if it comes to that. We are going to get into the logistics of what to bring along, and how to make things fun in the next post. But in the beginning, making lists of things to pack or how to combat problems that may arise is helpful. Even just writing down or discussing what issues may occur can make a huge difference in your planning.
- Schedule (as much as possible) your itinerary. Knowing where everyone will be sleeping each night is helpful, and makes your planning easier. Have an idea of the length of stay, what you will do when you get there, and what your priorities are. Now, start scheduling backwards. When will you get groceries for snacks for the trip? If you want fresh fruits and veggies, you will probably need to do this a day or two before you leave. If you want to make activities and boredom busters for the trip, an excursion to the dollar store or Walmart will probably be on your agenda. It would be better to do this a week or two before you leave- you don’t want to be up until 4 am cruising Pinterest and crying into your wine because you forgot to buy felt the night before you leave. A great idea is to give yourself deadlines. Maybe resolve to have all activities, books from the library and treats figured out and planned at least one week before.
- Packing. When will you do this? Logistically, how? Unless you already have six hours of free time in your day, you are going to need to carve out a chunk of time for this. And not only that- the laundry will have to be done! It was helpful for me to make sure that everything was washed, folded and put away about six days before our trip, and everything packed the day after that. I zip up suitcases and put bags high so that no one can grab anything out, and then as I remember things in the days after, just add them in.
- Routines. If you can keep (or start) a routine before you leave, it adds an element of peace and stability for younger children. We have quiet time in the afternoons between 1 and 3 (or 2 and 4, depending on what schedule we have for baby.) That time is so necessary for us to all have a break and wind down a bit. Our bedtime routine is also firmly etched in stone. If there is chaos in the regular day, there will be CHAOS x 10 in a hotel room, trailer or relative’s home. Bedtime will always be a bit difficult when it’s not their beds, but it’s still much easier when there’s a bit of normalcy. The more everyone knows what’s expected, the more calm and peaceful these things will be.
- WIGGLE ROOM. This is important on many different levels- budget, attitudes, personal space, schedule, etc. Having extra money set aside makes emergencies that will inevitably come up be a bump in the road rather than the end of the trip. Not getting frustrated when things don’t go exactly as planned can help so much. If Daddy isn’t always home with the kids (or Mom either) than extra measures of patience will be needed as everyone adjusts to being in close proximity for long periods of time. This is the time for choosing battles- don’t nitpick and find offense with everything that everyone does wrong. Deal with disobedience or issues quietly and patiently; don’t let negativity linger. Unfortunately, Mama usually sets the tone for the atmosphere. Choose to deal with some things when you return home or have some space to do so privately. Having wiggle room in the schedule is a MUST. Going, going, going is hard on kids- and adults. Have a quiet time every day, and try to have calm mornings and bedtimes. It is vacation after all: you don’t want to arrive home completely burnt out.
There are sooo many fun things to do, memories to be made, and sights to be seen. We will talk more next week about activities for all ages and travelling on a budget.