Well it is that time of year again…family vacation time! As summer breaks edges closer, it is time for family vacation planning. As “northerners”, we like to head south to the beach for our family trips, but with a larger family it takes months of planning, saving and prep to make any trip happen. We have to book a place to stay months in advance in order to get a place because the closer to the “in season” the harder it is to find an available and reasonably priced place to stay. We always try to find a spot that is close enough to the attractions or hot spots, but a bit set back from the commercial and too busy atmosphere. We want to be close enough to easily go do stuff without a long car ride in a hot car, but we also want a place to relax and unwind that is not over crowded as well. After we book a place, then it goes to budgeting…how much will we need for air fare or gas? How much will we need for activities, food, shopping and any extras? Then we figure how many months or weeks we have to save to achieve that amount. Then it goes to who needs what for the vacation. Bathing suits, beach shoes, life jackets, fishing poles, beach toys, tank tops, shorts, cover ups, dresses for when we do a couple nice dinners or shows all have to be figured out and when you are trying to get a family of 8 their summer and /or vacation wardrobe it can take a bit and costs some money. We tend to like Wal-Mart, Marshalls, Target and Amazon because it seems to be the easiest and most cost effective. Then we have to find house sitters and dog sitters, which gets hard to do. We have kenneled our dogs before, but every time we have they have been sick or injured upon pick up, then we have expensive vet bills, so we try to have some one stay at our home and care for our pets.
Next, as the trip gets closer we start to get things packed up and put aside for trip as we buy them or borrow them. This time we were not able to borrow a car inverter, so we got a good deal on one on Amazon. I will put links at bottom for some of the deals we got for trip. We felt a car inverter was a necessity with kids and myself because I could run my laptop on the long drive and the kids would be able to run their portable dvd players and game system on the long car ride. This way everyone would have an outlet to charge up their gadgets to keep them busy (which we hope means less fighting and whining lol). We also had to purchase a rooftop bag and mat, because our current van does not have any luggage racks and buying the rooftop, weatherproof bag was an easier fix and way cheaper then buying and having luggage racks installed. Plus we needed the space to store luggage, beach chairs, stroller and so on because our van is jammed packed with people so we have little room to pack in stuff for trip. We also had to buy a inexpensive and lightweight and more compact stroller to take. We have a big double stroller for the younger two, but it is way to huge to take with us on vacation and we do not have the room to take. So our solution was to buy a compact umbrella stroller, a carrier and a wrist bracelet that attaches to my wrist and my toddlers wrist to help keep her safe because she likes to wonder off very quickly. That is always a worry, especially when on vacation, that my toddler will run off randomly thinking it is funny or get lost in a busy and crowded tourist area, so we like to make sure they are safe (or at least safer) in a stroller, a carrier or have a wrist tie to me. Stuff can happen way to quick and when you are in an unfamiliar place it can get even scarier because you don’t know where to go or look first through such a crowded area, so we try to stay vigilant and take steps to protect our kids, while having fun. The carriers and wrist bracelets are nice because then you can also have your hands free when you need them, I will also post links to what we got at end.
Next, we like to get our van checked, all the fluids filled, brakes checked and so on, we do not have “Triple A”, instead we have all of that stuff through our actual car insurance. Tows, jumps, emergencies, rentals etc are all included into our car insurance, so it might be worth to check on your insurance if you have these features already included on your plan before you spend additional money on a “Triple A” membership. Then we like to see what we want to take with us in car for snacks and what, if any groceries, we want to take with us for when we get down there. Usually though, we just do a quick shopping trip when we get down there for essentials to eat. Like we just get milk and cereal for quick breakfasts before we head out for the day and some frozen pizzas for lunches when we are taking pool breaks and some quick pasta meals such as spaghetti for a couple quick dinners when we are too tired or sunburned to go out to eat. The rest of the meals we usually stop at places along the way or cool places we see while sight seeing, or our local favorites we like to visit when we are down there.
The rest of the time we spend in anticipation and excitement waiting for our family vacation to come. I sometimes do not know, who is more excited, us or the kids. Most people think I am crazy to take such a long car trip with so many kids and not just fly, but I really hate to fly and I really like to sight see, I think it is a fun part of the trip. I also like the fact that we are all in one place together and it gives us time to joke, or play car games, of course there is the occasional fight and whining, but find kids are easily distracted when we stop for a bathroom break, or find a cool thing to look at or stop at a cool restaurant down, along the way. I love getting there and knowing we are away from our “normal life” for a couple weeks and all get to be together having fun and exploring and doing cool, new things. I also love, love, love being by the water and smelling the salty air and hearing the waves crash on the beach and walking with the sand squishing between my toes. It is so nice to be able to unwind and walk hand in hand with my husband along the quiet beach while we watch our kids run, play and explore in front of us. It is nice seeing the kids be unplugged for a bit and away from the pressures of school, friends, sports and so on back home and see them get to be a care free kids for a bit. It is a good thing to get reconnected, refreshed and remember what is like to be unstressed, even if it is for a little bit. I love our sunset and moonlit walks, I love our fishing off of the pier and the kids being excited of what fish their poles will bring in. I love being by the pool and teaching our girls to swim or watching them play and have a good time with one another. I love going shopping with my girls and seeing what cool finds we can get. I love finding new and cool places to eat and sharing good meals with those I love. I love the adventure, I love the exploring and trying new things with my family and making everlasting memories. I hope my kids cherish those kinds of moments, like I did as a child on vacation with my parents and that they get to take these kinds of vacations and adventures eventually with their own families when they are older and get to make some new great memories and traditions when they are older.
Here are the links to some of the deals and things we got for trip online.
- roof top bag RoofBag 100% Waterproof, Made in USA, Premium Triple Seal for Maximum Protection, 2 Yr Warranty, Fits ALL Cars: With Side Rails, Cross Bars or No Rack, Rooftop Cargo Carrier includes Heavy Duty Straps.
- roof top protective mat The mat that goes under the rooftop bag, to help reduce slipping and protect your the roof of your car.
- kolcraft lightweight compact umbrella stroller This is a lightweight and compact umbrella stroller that we purchased for vacation. Easy to maneuver, easy to unpack and open and close. Vented back, cup holder and nice canopy and very cheap cost wise.
- ant lost child safety wrist bracelet– Anti lost safety wrist wear. Comfy fit, adjustable and attaches from parents wrist to child’s wrist. keep your hands free, while still being able to keep your child safer from strangers, wondering off and getting lost.
- 300 watt car inverter Car inverter for trips, charge gadgets so you can have fun and stay on top of things while on the go or on a long car trip.
- kids fishing pole set telescopic kids fishing pole kit. Comes with pole, reel, and fishing gear! Great buy and great for travel.
- Kids telescopic fishing set with extras telescopic fishing set, great for travel and comes with gear as well! Great buy. we bought this set as well.
- Girls cute swim cover up This is super cute and lightweight coverup for girls for walking down to beach or pool or for when they get out of water and want to be covered
- collapsible folding utility wagon This wagon is great! It collapses, folds and is great to get your beach gear or pool gear to your destination. We use ours to put our beach chairs, or pool noodles, snacks, diaper bags/beach bag etc down to beach and pool, because we cant carry little ones and all of our stuff at once, so this wagon is great.
- kids water shoes Watershoes are a must for the beach! the sand is hot and there are too many things a kid can step on. These super cute water shoes are perfect for your little ones and they come in several cute designs!
- Coleman beach canopy This cool canopy is great for a day at the beach. It can act as a changing station, a napping station, give you a place to change in or out of suits and can give you some relief from the sun. great for little ones who may want to nap or need an escape from the sun for a bit.
- extra large sand proof nylon beach blanket This is a nylon extra large “sandproof” beach blanket. It is water and heat resistant and portable. great for multiple kids or people. It is 9 x 10. It is great for beach play, tanning and enjoying a nice day.
- Sun burn gel This we recommend 100%. This is a Ultra Hydrating Aloe Vera Gel by SunBurnt, With Natural Organic Aloe Vera + Calendula, Echinacea & Hyaluronic Acid to help soothe, hydrate, cool dry skin, provide soothing sunburn relief. Helps with burns or after a day with too much sun. We know sunscreen helps, but some times, even with the best sunscreen families still get sunburned, PLUS it is not sticky!
- Sun Bum Moisturizing Sun Block Sun Bum original moisturizing sunscreen lotion. recommended by the skin cancer foundation. Broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. No parabens, gluten free and hypoallergenic