My husband and I are pretty experienced travelers as our entire relationship we’ve lived several states away from either my parents (in Indiana) or his parents (in Louisiana). And growing up driving six to eight hours away for a long holiday weekend was the norm as our extended family is that far away.
But travelling with a toddler is a whole other ballgame.
The stuff, the chaos, the challenges!
Because our priority when we’ve had time off has always been to see family, Michael and I have never had a real vacation together besides our honeymoon a few months after we married. We’ve always just traveled to see family. So when there was talk about planning a vacation among the members of my extended family I was pretty stoked. We are a pretty tight-knit group but only get to see each other a handful of times a year because we are all spread out and have busy lives of our own.
And even though it is “my” family, Michael has said he feels as if he’s been accepted as a McLaughlin and is a part of the family too. And my cousins’ have little ones that Miles LOVES to play with.
So the idea of a vacation was very exciting… until it got to the getting ready part.
We were to spend a long weekend (we left Thursday late morning for our destination and returned home around 6 p.m. Sunday) at a lake house. My cousin Annie did an amazing job picking a location with lots to do and that was as centrally located as is possible with as many of us as there are. The spot was Innsbrook, Mo., a resort-town built around dozens of lakes. We rented three large lake houses among the nearly 30 of us (with six, seven and under) but all gathered together at least once a day during the trip.
As happy as we were about the idea of getting away, the sheer notion of getting all the needed items together, packing them and fitting them in the car was pretty exhausting. So actually doing all that was even more exhausting. We had a box and cooler of food, an array of swim items, a handful of toys, a cot and sleeping bag for Miles, camp chairs, our bikes, Miles’ seat for our bike, clothes, beach towels… You get the picture.
But once we got there it was an amazing time. We went to the beach, boated, biked, walked, explored, gabbed, played games, laughed, ate too much, napped and every once in a blue moon even relaxed.
I’m ready to do it again, just give me a year or two to recover from this one!
What’s been your best vacation survival strategy? Best vacation with a toddler? Share your ideas!