Since we just took a vacation and it is fresh in my memory I though I would do a post on how we do vacations!!!
We have done vacations different ways over the years. We have tented, we have camped with a camper and we have stayed in hotels.
I can't say I prefer one way over the other, they all have their good and not so good points, some are more work than others, but they all make great memories!!!
When we go on vacation as a family this is what we purpose to do....make great family memories. Now having such a wide variety of ages means that we have to be flexible and often creative in what we do.
Vacations are much more expensive than living at home.....but they are WORTH it!!!! When we go on vacation we want to be frugal with our money but we also know that doing stuff is going to cost money! And because of that we do things that we normally wouldn't do, all the while trying not to tear up for the money we are dishing out (not serious :) Saying that, we do try to find events and places that give good group or family rates. And if we happen to hit a holiday, there are often events that you can get in for free. As much as we like these deals they don't always happen and we have to pay full rate! One thing that we have found over the years is that a family rate doesn't usually mean it will actually cover our family! In fact, usually it is 2 adults and 2 children, which comes up a little short for us!
The last couple of vacations we have found a method of packing that has worked the best for us. We bought everyone duffle bags (smaller ones for the littles) and put name tags on them. These fit perfectly under the van seats, and uses up a space that often seems wasted. And believe me, we need the space. To say that we are a little cramped when traveleling would be an understatement! We have a 15 passenger van, with 13 passengers. Therefore we have only 2 extra spots to put luggage on since there is really no extra space behind the back seats. We used to be able to take out a seat or two...but we are glad we are so blessed that we can't anymore...it's worth it :)
We seat everyone in the same spot as we do when we normally go anywhere. Zachary and Jesse in the back, Caleb, Nathan & Josiah in the 2nd to back seat, Kerri, Brooke and Mikaya in the 3rd back seat, and Jennifer, Megan and Jaden in the front seat. We find assigned seating saves on squabbles, pushing and shoving, and headaches for Mom :) The older girls will sometimes switch around, they don't usually push and shove :)
When we camp we bring as much food from home as possible. Because we grow our own meat, that is what we try to stock up on the most. We have a nice sized fridge in the camper and a fridge that plugs into the van. The more food we can take from home, the less costly our trip is! Favorite camping meals? Hamburgers, Bqued Chicken Pieces, Bqued Steak (from home :), Sloppy Joes......just to name a few.
And when we hotel it, then we make sure that we find hotels that have a free breakfast. That is worth a lot to us. We eat breakfast as late in the morning as possible and then have just a light lunch and a bigger supper. Usually for lunch we will just buy a couple loaves of bread, sandwich meat, peanut butter and jam/honey, chips, and some fruit. Some of our favorite (and least expensive) suppers when traveling.....Pizza, Burritos, Roasted Chicken (the meals you can get in a grocery store with salads).
When we go to a hotel we try to fit into 2 rooms (3 this last trip because Josh, Rebecca and Andy joined us). We fit as many as we can on the beds, get a playpen for the baby and bring sleeping bags for the rest.
While traveling, if the trip is long enough, we bring some things to entertain the kids. Books, coloring, a few toys. When we went to Alberta this last trip we hardly brought anything and the kids did great! We loaded up our Ipod with music and stories and we were good to go! I found it much less hassle to bring as little in the way of entertainment as possible. It also cut down on the car sickness for those who suffer from it.
I think most people wonder how many times we have to stop for a bathroom break? Well, not too often. We make sure the drinking water is kept to a minimum and basically when we have to fill for gas, we take potty breaks. There is the odd time that a certain someone can't make it till the next fill, but for the most part that's the only time we stop. And when we stop, we hope that there is more than one bathroom (otherwise this lengthens our stop quite a bit :) and we get in and out as quick as possible. We also usually use this opportunity to let the babies and toddlers stretch their legs a bit.
I think that pretty well covers our vacation how we do it. Unless there is something you were wondering that I didn't think of? Let me know.