When you have a large family, traveling together can be a challenge. But with a little bit of planning and research, family vacations with children and grandchildren can be a great way for
generations to bond. When our five children were young, we took them to the beach every year. Now that we have added five grandchildren to the mix, traveling is even more complicated.
Recently we invited our children and grandchildren to go with us to Michigan. We wanted to get away after the holidays and before the New Year to visit my husband's mother. Not everyone was able to go, but 11 of us filled three cars and headed north to Howell, Michigan the day after Christmas. The age range of our travelers extended from two to 63. Our 24-year-old boys took their girlfriends and hoped there would be snow on Mount Brighton for snow boarding. Unfortunately, the weather was too warm and the ski resort was closed the whole time we were in Michigan.
Since we couldn't go snowboarding or skiing we went ice skating, and because so many of us were first time skaters it was very amusing! This little fellow never had ice skates on before and did amazingly well!
I didn't try ice skating this time because I am not an experienced skater and I was afraid of broken bones, but my husband was an excellent skater in years gone by and decided to give it a shot. He did great and even helped the little ones with their first ice skating experience.
The next day everyone went to the arcade, bowling and go-cart riding. Bill's mother was not going to get left out of the action, and even though this picture is blurry because of the motion I think you can tell she had a great time.
Go, Grandma, Go! FYI -- She's 90 and shows no signs of slowing down on the race track or off!
Here are some tips for family travel that have worked for us over the years that may help make your vacation less stressful and more memorable!
1. Know your budget. What can each family member afford to spend and how much will each activity cost. Knowing prices in advance will let everyone know which activities they can afford to do and which ones they can't.
2. Not everyone wants to do the same thing and everyone has different
physical and financial limitations. Be considerate and don't force anyone to do anything they don't want to do.
3. Feeding a lot of people is expensive. Have everyone chip in and buy groceries together. Make things like chili or spaghetti that feed a lot of people for not a lot of money. I made chili one night and another night we ordered pizza. We only ate at a restaurant once the whole time we were there.
4. When considering where to stay, think about renting a house or
condominium. I use VRBO and over the years I've had very few problems, which were always resolved quickly. Hotel rooms don't allow for little kids to get their wiggles out and it's hard for it to feel like a family vacation when everyone is not under the same roof.
5. Make a list when you pack to insure everyone gets to the final destination
with socks and underwear. Take clothing that is appropriate for the climate where you will be. It wasn't terribly cold on our trip but a few of us forgot to take a coat and had to borrow from other family members who brought extras. I always take a package of toothbrushes with me because someone almost always forgets to bring one.
6. Realize that families are made up of unique individuals who all have
their own way of doing things. Overlook each others quirks and hopefully they will overlook yours (yes, you have them too!)
7. It's hard for our family to afford airfare so we usually drive. If you are driving a long distance consider traveling at night. Little children do not like being strapped in car seats for hours at a time. We've found if we travel at night they sleep and don't mind the ride so much. If you have to travel during the day be prepared to take lots of breaks.
8. Assign everyone a job when it comes time to clean up the rental
property. Even little ones can pick up toys or carry pillows.
9. Make lots of pictures and videos. This way you can re-live your family
vacations again and again.
10. After you get home, unpack and get all the dirty clothes washed, then start
planning the next adventure. We are hoping for a trip to Disney World this
summer and if I don't nail down the week we are going soon it will become
harder for everyone to get time off from work.
Do you travel with your children and grandchildren? If you haven't, you
should consider it. To me there's nothing more rewarding than watching my
children and grandchildren have fun together and with their cousins.
That's one of the things that makes being a grandparent so wonderful.
Teresa Bell Kindred is the author of several books including The Knot at
the End of Your Rope; Ten Ways to Hold on When You are Stressed Out and
Mom: PhD-A Simple 6 Step course on Leadership for Moms. She was a major
contributor to Humor for a Teacher's Heart and Cup of Comfort Devotional:
Daily Reminders of God's Love and Grace. She also authored four Precious
Moments books that were illustrated by Sam Butcher. Her blog, NanaHood.com
was chosen as one of the Top Ten Websites for Grandparents by
GRANDmagazine.com in 2015.