For years, I dreamed of traveling with my family to far away places. I researched tips, made bucket lists, penny pinched finances and dreamed of the day it could become a reality. In those young diaper changing days, the possibility of those dreams seemed nearly impossible…but I still held fast to the potential.
This past Fall, my dreams became a reality as my little crew undertook three separate trips across 3 months. My little family of four, including two girls aged 9 and 6 traveled across our own country, and then overseas. In total, we slept away from home 35 nights and traveled more than 27,000 miles in the span of 3 months.
Through all of these adventures, I have come up with a few tips/tricks that proved useful and even surprised me that I would love to share with you.
Here they are in no particular order:
- Pack less than you think you will need – For our 17 hour flight, we each had a carry on of activities to entertain us. We brought neck pillows, eye masks, iPads, books, coloring books…you name it..we likely had it on our carry on bag. Turns out…we needed NONE of it! The airline provided pillows, eye masks and even toothbrushes and basic cosmetics. The little in-seat computers/tvs made our iPads obsolete. We carried a LOT of weight that was unnecessary. The weight may not sound like a big deal, but when transporting that luggage and a family of four through train stations, onto buses and into elevators those 4 extra bags really added up!
- When in doubt, do the experiences available (within reason of course). Before we flew to Australia, I got the crazy idea to have the family take a private surfing lesson. We do not live near a beach, we can barely even drive to a beach within two days, so the lesson would not prove something we would or could use on a normal basis…but yet…this opportunity sounded truly magical. So, we did! All four of us learned how to surf and even managed to stand up on a wave during that private lesson. It remains one of our most favorite experiences while traveling, and we almost didn’t do it. Know which experiences are unique to the area, and embrace those opportunities.
- Research your destination ahead of time. We attempted to make the local foods at home before heading abroad. We failed miserably. Our food tasted horrible. We then tried to eat that same local food while actually abroad. It turns out, we LOVED the food abroad and enjoyed it even more due to our ill attempts at home.
- Schedule some down time. On all three trips, we carved out rest days. Days when it was so tempting to go and explore the new area, but we forced down time instead. These days of down time helped rejuvenate us for our upcoming adventures and helped us appreciate the experiences as they came. When we were always on the go, it was easy to overlook just how cool our experience was.
- Embrace the local culture. This is much easier to do when traveling overseas, but it is very possible in our country as well. Find the hiking trail less traveled, eat at local establishments, shop at local grocers. We try to avoid chain restaurants while we travel, which isn’t always easy when traveling with kids.
- Keep a travel journal. We started the journals when we left on our first of the three trips in September. The kids keep ticket stubs, postcards, personal reflections and eventually even photos. This is such a great way to capture the memories and feeling associated with new destinations. Yes, even my 6 year old participated.
- Remember your goals and keep working toward them. There were times when I seriously thought these trips would mean nothing but disaster. I’m normally so strict with bedtimes, routine and structure…and here I was purposely disrupting all of those…ON PURPOSE! It turns out that the kids were listening all of those times when we talked about team work, opportunity and blessings. The kids knew these were amazing opportunities and they were rock stars on these trips. My fears and worries were for nothing.
- Never give up on your dream…as it may one day become a reality.
Contact Ashley Berndsen for all your grand and magical vacation needs!