Travel has been key in the creation of some of our family's sweetest and some of our hardest family memories. From traveling on deputation with just a one year old, to moving from one side of the US to another with children and belongings in tow, to exploring our own neck of the woods in Southern Mexico now with five children, God has allowed traveling to be an incredible bonding tool for our family, although it gets a little crazier with the addition of each child. You can read about our ministry here.
Here are some of the things that we have learned to do to help us to stay organized, stay together and to better enjoy traveling with a large family of small children:
- Pray. I pray as I make a packing list. I pray as I pack. We pray together as a family as we leave, committing our efforts, our trip and the events to follow to the Lord, asking for his protection and blessing and for opportunities to show him to others along the way.
- Simplify. I try to make it as easy as possible to keep track of children and things.
- Occupy. On some trips the children may be allowed to each bring a backpack of their own things, toys, coloring etc, and be responsible for it during the trip. If walking, their “fun bag” can't be too heavy, they must carry their own (even the 3 year old generally does this.) Othertimes, for shorter trips, we may have one fun bag containing something for everyone. Something as simple as a new coloring book and crayons (in a ziplock bag) are a special treat that make my kids look forward to travel.
- Travel light. Travel smart. We travel as light as possible. With costs for checked bags on the rise, it is helpful to carry carry-ons, but if your family has little ones, like ours, it may be worth the peace of mind to pack lightly, and check one or two suitcases, so you can have your hands free to hold tight to their little hands as you make your way through the crowds of the airport.
- Organize. If packing room is tight, we have even placed all of the clothing into a gallon size ziplock bags with papers that say “child's name, Monday” or “child's name, Tuesday”. When you squeeze all the air out of these, you can get more clothing in the suitcase and stuff is already organized and easy to know who is wearing what that day. And if there is an overnight stop, we can grab everyone's bags for the next day and put them into one suitcase to take into the hotel for the night instead of all six!
- Identify. Especially for airport trips, we like to wear the same bright color when we travel, making it easy to spot and keep track of one another. And we put our family business card in the luggage tags of our baggage. This makes the bags easily identifiable to us, and if one gets lost it can be quickly matched to us by giving the airport agents our card along with the bag description.
- Photograph. We love taking pictures anyway, but taking a picture of everyone before you start the trip is a good idea from a safety standpoint as well. If (and we pray it never happens) someone should get separated from the family or group, we would have a photo of them in the clothing they had on to share with others who could help locate the missing one.
- Strategy. In the car, we assign seats, so there is no confusion or quarrels every time we get back in about who is sitting where. And we purposefully try to naturally deflect problems and provide helpers for the littler ones by strategically assigning those seats.
- Responsibility. Only one person (usually Daddy) is in charge of the important paperwork (passports, tickets, IDs, etc.) so that they do not get lost in the shuffle of too many hands.
- Food. We pack snacks. Children (and adults too) get hungry, and are much less likely to be happy and obedient when hungry. Planning for those times by packing snacks, and perhaps even a special treat, something they ONLY get when we travel, also helps everyones spirits.
If you have other tips to share with us for large family or small children traveling, I'd love for you to leave a comment.
Find out what our blogging friends have to say about the Travel Effect!
5-1 Jen at Word Traveling shares Come Celebrate the Travel Effect with Us. (You are here!)
5-1 Amy at Homeschool Blogging shares about Traveling to Conventions.
5-2 Stacey at I'm A Lazy Mom shares My Newest Lazy Mom Travel Essentials.
5-3 Jen at Word Traveling shares NTTW Kickoff! Infographic & Video Contest Announcement
5-4 Amy at Homeschool Encouragement shares Free Travel Printables for Kids!
5-5 Katie at Paradise Praises shares Large Family Travel Tips
5-6 Jen at Word Traveling shares Travel Effect- The Effects Travel Has on Family.
5-6 Jen at Conservamom shares the Dave Ramsey School of Traveling with Your Family.
5-7 Jenilee at Our Goodwin Journey shares Tips for Surviving Well in Small Spaces
5-8 Jen shares on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network.
5-9 Suzette from Godly Rose shares Disney on a Dime.
5-10 Marcy from Ben and Me shares 10 Tips for Saving Money on Vacation.
5-12 Kendra from Homeschooling IRL shares Traveling With Kids Is Worth All the Effort!
5-15 Jen at Florida Parent Education Association shares Making Memories at Your Homeschool Convention.
5-17 Tonya shares Practical Ways to Save Money on Your Next Road Trip
5-20 Susie (age 6) shares Flying as an Unaccompanied Minor.
5-21 Leslie shares Getting Outdoors While Traveling with Kids.
5-23 Phyllis shares Do You Travel With Children?
5-28 Kathy shares Boredom Busters For Road Trips