Three Tips For Vacationing With Little Kids


“Mommy, how many more days until we leave for Lake Manistique!?” This is the question that I get every single day lately. We are ten days away from vacationing on our biennial lake trip! Andrew’s family has been going to the same lake in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan since his Grandfather went the first time in the 1950’s, so this vacation is a big deal for our family. Andrew even built a website, complete with a ticking countdown ( This is just an example of how serious we are about family vacations 🙂

As a family that likes to travel, we decided that we were going to keep doing it even with little kids. With four kids, we have mastered the “traveling with kids” experience!

Last Christmas we road-tripped from Cincinnati to Monterrey, Mexico. It took us three days to get there but we made it a fun and enjoyable trip by planning adventures along the way and spreading the driving out over three days!

This summer, we are driving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan! It will be a long drive but we are looking forward to it. Traveling has brought so many great memories to our family and we can’t envision ourselves ever stopping.

I know that vacationing with little kids can be very challenging and some families have decided to wait for the small years to pass before they travel again. (If you want tips on how to have a simpler motherhood , check out this post.)  I wanted to share with you some of the things we have learned that have made traveling an enjoyable experience with little kids:

3 tips for vacationing with little kids

1. Change Your Mindset 

Vacationing is not about relaxation anymore. It is about making memories. By this, I don’t mean that you will not get any down time, but it might not be as often as you would like. Change your mindset from anticipating relaxation mode to anticipating making memories mode.

A phrase that we learned as missionaries and that stuck with me (it has helped me with marriage and parenting) is “unrealistic expectations are premeditated disappointment.” Changing your mindset before the vacation will set you up for a a successful and less stressful vacation time. You won’t feel frustrated because you had the right mindset from the very beginning!

2. Visualize Your Time Vacationing

While swinging my kids on our swing set I started this process. I told them “you know what I am the most excited about for our vacation? To be swinging you guys on the swing set and swimming with you!” I actually am very excited about it. 

Visualize yourself doing things with your kids that you all will enjoy doing together and that you know won’t make you feel stressed out. Doing this will help you look forward to all the things that you want to do together. Write them down so you don’t forget and so you will have a plan for activities to do during your stay!

3. Plan For Their Needs

Sitting in a car for hours upon hours is hard, even for adults. There is always a point when my legs feel very fidgety and all I want to do is get out of the car and never go back inside. This is true about any situation. Kids feel the same as adults but (typically) in a more visual and expressive way. Put yourself in their shoes and plan for things that you know will be hard for your kids to handle. 

Here is a list of things you can plan for:

  • Keep a basket with healthy and fun snacks close to them so they can eat whenever they feel hungry.
  • Make surprise bags for them filled with things like coloring books, little toys and books to keep them entertained (Andrew’s mom did this for our kids and they loved it)
  • Plan extra time for stopping. Find a park where they can play at, go to the bathroom, or even a hiking trail close to the highway you can do a picnic lunch at (my friend taught me this one.) This will help them (and you) to reset minds and bodies and have a better attitude.
  • Get a couple of new movies.  
  • Stop at a hotel with a swimming pool and make the long drive part of your vacation. Swimming also helps them sleep better after sitting for a very long time.

Traveling with little kids doesn’t have to be hard. It can be a very pleasant experience if planned for and done well! Do you have anymore tips that you would like to add to these? Please share!

Let’s talk again soon…

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