Ah, vacation. All year people (for the most part) look forward to the relaxation and exploration a little time off affords. Except, of course, if you're a mom. Vacation as a mom means planning, packing, and even less sleep than you're used to acquiring. While traveling the world with your kids in tow can be a glorified, "pretty picture," there are a few things no one will tell you about going on vacation as a mom. Thankfully, here's where I come in.
A few months ago, my family piled into our fan and drove from South Carolina to Colorado and back. Not only did we brave a cross-country road trip, we camped (tent and all) several times along the way. It was a massive undertaking, to say the very least. We had to bring everything — from food, fuel, dishes, sheets, blankets, and pillows — because we weren't planning on relying on a hotel to provide us with basic necessities or accommodations. In other words, there was a lot of packing involved and, surprise surprise, that packing usually ends up being "mom's responsibility." Once everything was packed and loaded up, we drove seven or so hours at a time, stopping to camp at night until we reached our destination.
Of course, not every family decides to take a cross-country, tent-camping road trip. For other families, a "vacation" might mean leaving early for the airport, or leaving late for the airport if you want a redeye so your kids might sleep on the plane. No matter your travel arrangements, taking a vacation as a mom is definitely different than vacationing solo or as a couple. So, with that in mind, here are a few things you can expect. After all, the devil you know beats the devil you don't.
The first thing you need to know about vacationing with kids is that it's kind of a total pain in the ass. Your days of wandering through destination cities, eating at 5 star restaurants or lounging on the beach drinking umbrella drinks, are over. Your kids will be off their routines, totally stimulated, and prone to meltdowns at the slightest provocation. Tending to those needs away from all the comforts of home can be a daunting prospect.
It's Not Relaxing
If you are on the beach, instead of burying your toes in the sand and blissing out on the waves you're on alert and making sure your toddler isn't swept out to sea. If you're exploring a new city, you're more concerned with navigating the stroller through the crowds or keeping your big kid out of traffic than admiring the architecture. If you're camping, keeping your littles from tottering right into the fire pit is a full-time job.
You Have To Pack So. Much. Stuff
Diapers, wipes, multiple changes of clothes, toys, books, comfort items, snacks; your luggage will at least double if not triple in both size and weight.
If you're flying, be sure to budget for extra carry-on charges. If you're driving, well, hopefully you have a cargo rack.
Kids eat. And eat. And eat. They'll murder the continental breakfast, ask for snacks as soon as you leave the hotel or campground, beg for lunch, and not stop munching till they go to bed. Stopping for gas or potty breaks means snacks and drinks (or tantrums if snacks are not purchased).
You'll be amazed at how quickly you lose your inhibitions at a souvenir store or gift shop.
Children also talk. And talk. And talk.
(And occasionally yell, cry, and scream, but that's neither here nor there.)
The Destinations Are Different
Where you once might have required drink service on the beach and fine dining, now you're checking for water parks and family activities. Indoor pools and continental breakfast are the new full service spa and room service.
The Planning Is Daunting
Lists, y'all. Make lots of lists. Lists of absolutely everything you want to happen and plan on happening and could potentially happen despite your best planning. Bandaids, ibuprofen, allergy medicine; if you might possibly need it one day at home, put it on the list. If you have a schedule in mind, write a back-up schedule for when your initial schedule goes to sh*t on day one of your vacation. Trust me.
All the self-care routines and stress relievers you have established at home are out the window when you're on vacation. The baby gates that give you a separate space are gone. The nap times are screwed up. You will work twice as hard on vacation as you will at home, because all of the things that make taking care of children easier are still at home.
Despite all that, vacationing with kids really is fun. No, I'm serious.
Watching your children experience new things and learning about new places and meeting new people is nothing short of amazing. As clichéd as it may be, you will be making memories that last a lifetime. Totally worth it.
You Will Start Planning Your Next Trip Before You're Home From Your Current Trip
"Where are we going next year?!"