I couldn’t be more thrilled to be hosting Kristin Smith from my God-sized Dream group today while I’m traveling. I know the summer is wrapping up, but if your family is anything like mine, we plan family vacations for off peak times so we don’t have to fight the summer madness. I am planning one now for October and am really excited about using some of Kristin’s great tips from her recent trip:
What an honor it is to be here today to guest post for Gindi! Our family recently took a fun vacation together and I asked if I could share some of the tips I used to plan our trip and some things that best worked for us to make our vacation as fun and stress free as possible!
Find a place to stay that best fits your families needs.
Having a family of 6 limited our options in regards to hotels. Did you know that many hotels won’t rent a room to a family of 6 without requiring you have 2 rooms?! So for us we knew that finding a rental home would be ideal. Because we found something with lots of space we were able to invite our extended family to come stay with us as well! The other benefit of a house is your kids can run and play and make all the noise they want and you won’t have neighbors complaining. And we had a full kitchen to use so we cooked all of our meals at the cabin and saved on the cost of dining out!
I just did a general search online for vacation rentals and starting narrowing my search based on our individual needs. There are several sites dedicated to searches like this such as VBRO.com and Homeaway.com. Just make sure that you have communication with the owner/manager of the rental and understand the cancellation policy if necessary before you make a deposit!
If possible bring food/supplies with you from home.
Knowing that we wouldn’t get to our rental until right around dinner time, and knowing that we were approx. 45 minutes away from a local grocery store – I wanted to pack some food with so that we didn’t have to stop and eat fast food again. With a family as large as ours, eating out is always more expensive than eating at home (and it is less healthy too!). We had a larger cooler that we packed with frozen hamburger, brats, eggs, cheese, fruits etc. We also had a couple of totes filled with dry foods, bread, crackers, chips, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter and jelly. We happen to live in a state that doesn’t charge tax on its food – and were travelling to a state and region that is a high tourist area and does charge tax. Because we had room it was more cost effective to bring food with us, instead of buying it there. It turned out that between our family and my extended family, we only had to stop once for a few extras in a total of 8 days!
Take lots of pictures.
Everything from the beautiful to the mundane. If you have a digital camera or smart phone – use it. You can always delete pictures later….but you will be glad that you have plenty of documentation from your trip. And have someone take at least 1 picture of your entire family. This is one thing that I always had intentions of doing, but never actually got done. I would have loved to have a picture of my husband and I alone also. So if there is a picture you think you would like – make time to take it!
Be flexible and expect delays.
Depending on the size of your group be willing to compromise about what you are going to do and how you will spend your time. It is ok to split up for an afternoon if needed. One day our boys went fishing with grandpa while the rest of us relaxed at the cabin. It was nice to have the downtime and the boys loved the special fishing trip with their grandpa.
One of the days of our trips we had a family wedding in the afternoon. We decided to get some sightseeing in before that event and had a pretty tight schedule. I don’t do “late” well (at all!!) So when we were on our way heading to the church and got stopped by a herd of buffalo, well I lost my patience and vacation cheer. In hindsight my frustration just caused stress for my husband as well – so learn from my mistake and expect there will be delays and decide ahead of time to not react negatively and enjoy the view!
When you will be out on the road for the day pack snacks!
I am sure that those of you reading with kids understand this completely!! A couple of our days started early and we were sightseeing all day long. We planned ahead and packed snacks, granola bars, fruit, possibly a handful of Snickers bars 🙂 juice pouches, pops, sandwiches and chips before we left each day. When the kids were hungry we could stop and get them something easily and again it saved us money in the long run. And again we saved on costs when we had food with us instead of having to buy fast food all the time.
If possible do laundry during your trip.
For some people this may not be an issue, but for me personally I hate the idea of having suitcases full of dirty clothes coming home with me. We were fortunate enough to have a washer and dryer in our rental so every morning after showers I threw a load in. I also brought a small container of my detergent and a baggie with dryer sheets so I didn’t have to buy any. We went home with 1 change of dirty clothes and I was extremely grateful that I didn’t have 10 loads to do once we got home and everyone was exhausted!
And most of all HAVE FUN! This vacation was a big deal for our family because this is something we don’t do every year. I wanted this to be a time to make memories and just unplug. The cabin we rented didn’t have WiFi which was beautiful because we couldn’t spend time working or online. It was much needed time away and based on the 1000+ pictures I took, this will be a vacation that our entire family will remember for a very long time!
I’d love to hear from you now…what is the hardest thing about planning a vacation and what has or hasn’t worked for you?
Kristin blogs over at The Riches of His Love and says this about herself. “I am a wife and a mother but most importantly I am a daughter of the King. Redeemed by His Grace and so very grateful for it. Through the past 17 years we have walked some hard roads. Many of them difficult by our own doing. But despite our choices and at times lack of faith – God loved us anyways. We have seen and continue to experience the riches of His love.”