How To Survive a Family Vacation

We just got home from a 9 day family vacation to Palm Springs. We all survived and made some fantastic memories along the way. It was stressful and relaxing all at the same time. (Is that even possible?) It was exhausting and invigorating all at the same time. (Can that even be?) And there were times when we were alarmingly Griswald-eque. But that’s the beauty of vacations. they teach you so much about your own family dynamics. The good, the bad and the obnoxious.
So once again, I’ve decided to pass along some nuggets of parenting wisdom. It’s your lucky day!!!

Here are 8 tips to surviving your next family vacation!

Hang In There…

It is a LOT of work getting ready to go on vacation. And somehow it always seems to fall on Mom’s shoulders. There will be moments in the week leading up to the trip when you’ll wonder if it would just be easier to stay home. Hang in there, Mama. Your hard work will pay off once you’ve made it to your destination and pop the cork on that first bottle of wine.
Keep It Simple…
Remember the days of packing an entire bag full of coloring books, crafts, and activities to keep the kids busy on the plane? Forget that! I’ve got one word for you…SCREENS! My advice? Lose the guilt. Who cares that they just spent 4 hours straight playing Minecraft? Can you hear all that silence? I bet the people sitting next to you can. Hey, I never promised my parenting advice will win you the Mother Of the Year Award. But it WILL keep the peace. And that’s far more precious than any imaginary award. 
Speak Your Piece…
Having a husband who travels frequently for work might complicate things for you. There’s a good chance he’ll make his way through the airport as if he’s traveling alone. He’ll breeze through security worrying only about himself, while you schlep the rest of your family (shoes and bags and all) through x-ray machines and metal detectors. He’ll briskly dodge through crowds, while you struggle just to make it to the gate with all 3 of your kids in tow.  And after all that he’ll stop to buy the kids treats and drinks, despite the fact that last night you spent an hour packing bag lunches and healthy snacks for them. Do not be afraid to kick him in the balls gently remind him that traveling with a family of 5 is not the same as traveling alone and you’d appreciate a little help.  

Accept It…
When you’re on vacation with your family you’ll still have to go grocery shopping, make meals, clean up, and do laundry. It’s just one shitty reality of being Mom. There’s no two ways about it. So the sooner you accept that you have to be the maid no matter which state you’re in…the better.  
Look On The Bright Side…
Kids will OBSESS about swimming! You could take them on an aerial tram up into the mountains for hiking, to the zoo for the day, exploring in a National Park, or even on a desert safari jeep ride and you will still hear, “Can we go swimming when we get home?” Just go with it. It makes for great bribery (Be good or no swimming!) And at least it tires them out so they sleep well at night. 
And while we’re on the subject of swimming: When your kid gets a bloody nose in a crowded pool and his brother decides to announce it FULL VOLUME for everyone to hear…and he swims underwater to get to you after you’ve yelled at him to keep his nose out of the water…and then he sasses you in front of everyone when you tell him how gross that was…and later he sticks his nose up in the air and  yells over to you, “Hey Mom, is it bleeding again?”…just don’t panic. There IS a bright side to this situation too. The pool will clear out REALLY fast and you’ll have the place to yourself in no time.

Get to Know the Locals…
Traveling to California? A warning: You just might see a lady carrying her little dog in a Baby Bjorn walk right into the Mexican restaurant you’re eating at. And she might even sit down and share her salsa with said dog. Try not to get too grossed out. Simply get out your phone and post a picture of it on social media so your friends back home will believe you. You can also have a good laugh when one of your friends comments that she looks remarkably like Kieth Richards.

It Gets Better…
Parents of little ones…fear not! It gets better. My youngest is 5 now. You know what that means? This is the first time our family has traveled without a STROLLER! That milestone is almost as big as potty training. Seriously! When we got to the airport on our first day I kept feeling like I was forgetting something. Turns out I was just feeling empty handed without our enormous, clumsy, fonder pot of a stroller to push. Breaking News: No stroller = freedom! Just wait, you guys. I promise your time is coming too!  
So there you have it. As is generally the case with my family, we were a loud and obnoxious ordeal with every new adventure we encountered on our trip. We had our fair share of spills at restaurants. The tight quarters of the rental mini-van proved that you can indeed have too much family time some days. And there seemed to be at least one crabby, sassy, whiny child (or adult) at all times. But we had fun, damn it! It’s just our way. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 


  1. My mother once full out slapped me at the airport baggage claim in DC when I was a being a snotty kid on a family trip. You seem like you’re handling family travels with a lot more grace. Of course, your kids (bloody nose or not) are a bit better behaved than I was.

    • Okay first of all, I thought legend had it that it was your brother who got slapped at the airport. It was YOU? I wonder what you did to deserve it. (And I think your Mom gets a pass. I’m sure she was on edge being at the airport.) And secondly, I am NOT handling any part of parenthood with more grace than your Mom. I will never live up to your parents’ standards. And lastly, if you truly believe that my kids are better behaved than anyone…I invite you to take them for a weekend. Seriously.

    • I have apologized numerous times for that slap,Dan. I’m pretty sure it has scarred you on the inside! Once again, I am truly sorry to lashing out without thought in the airport after a long flight. Thanks for sticking up for me Marie. You’re the BEST!

    • Happens, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. These are all great tips. I started traveling with my 3 kids when they were very young. We all go thru moods, myself included. I just have to remember that the mood will pass and to breath in the meantime. I found your article at the LOBS party. It’s great to find these tips. I pinned them.

  3. We are a week out from a trip to California. Bummer is, my husband will already be there for 4 days before we arrive. So, no help with the packing, the schlepping, or my anxiety re air travel. Bonus? My mom volunteered to go along! She is seated by the kids, I’m 6 rows ahead of them. She’s staying with my sister once we get there, and we will continue on with our vacation. Brilliant, eh? Now, just to get all the sh__ together that we will need…

  4. OMG! There really is ONE in every family!!! I have resigned myself to the fact that my vacations are not my own anymore. If I have any hope of relaxing, the kids have to be totally blissed out which means we are doing what they want. It’s all good. One day I am going to have the most legendary vacation, when they’re older because Karma says it will happen!
    Tara Newman recently posted…SuperMom is DEAD. I killed her.My Profile

    • Oh, sweet karma. I forget sometimes that it works for good too. Totally get what you’re saying about vacations not being your own! Our time will come…when we will once again have a life of our own.

  5. I remember the family road trip vacation when I was a kid, days on end (it seemed) trapped in the back seat with my sister. At least our kids have video games, even portable DVD players to entertain themselves. But, they don’t get the joy of sleeping up in the back window! ๐Ÿ™‚
    WriterMom Angela recently posted…Cover Reveal and Interview with author Marilyn BaxterMy Profile


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