I remember going on vacations as a kid with my mom, dad and sister. They always seemed larger than life and thrilling. We would stay in a two-bedroom condo near the beach, and maybe fly if the price was right. It seemed like we would start packing weeks in advance, and it would take a minor miracle if we had everything we needed to last the week. Travelling with two children, I learned, requires planning.
Travelling with eight children is a whole other monster. Here are some things you need to know about travelling with a big family.
This may be a no-brainer for some, but it came as a surprise to us. Depending on the hotel, you may need two rooms due to occupancy restrictions. I recommend calling in advance to see how many children they will accommodate in a room. We have found places to be more flexible if we book a suite vs a standard room with 2 queen beds. It really depends on the hotel, your destination, and the staff.
Have we smuggled kids in before? Yep. But we’ve been prepared to pay extra if needed. Just be courteous and try to keep the noise to a minimum. Our house is usually the loudest house on the block, but in hotels, we practice courtesy. It has worked to our advantage on more than one occasion and we are welcomed back wherever we stay. We hope this paves the way for other large families on the road.
We do the same with VRBO and Airbnb. We always let the host know we are travelling with many children in tow. We have been told that their space is suddenly “occupied” even after corresponding several times, but figure we are better off in the long run. For the most part, we have been welcomed with open arms.
Just as there are occupancy limits in hotels and such, there are occupancy limits in campgrounds as well.
If you are camping in a National or State Park, check out the group camping spots. Generally speaking, they are spacious and away from the crowds. These sites aren’t much more than what you would pay for a single site. We also found them to be superior in views. If your crew is 8+, always ask about a group site.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Or in our case, always automobiles. Anywhere we go, we drive. And while one day we will have to fly to get across the pond, we will drive to every place we can in the Americas. Why? Because flying is expensive.
We have road trips down to an art form. But us in a confined place with other folks for an extended period of time… You’re asking for an intervention with an air martial.
Same goes for a train. In theory, it seems like it wouldn’t be so bad but after the 20th “are we there yet,” the other passengers may start to form alliances.
We will do our thing and travel by van.
I remember packing for a trip to the Virgin Islands when I was a teenager. I think I packed EVERY item of clothing I owned along with what seemed the entire Clinique counter. I stuffed it into an extra large suitcase and off we went. Ah! Those were the days.
Now, we travel light. Can you imagine 10 xl suitcases?! We each have a very thoughtfully planned capsule wardrobe that will accommodate hiking, travel, church, and everything in between. We take shower shoes, hiking boot and sneakers in one giant bin. Our ultimate goal is to get each person down to a backpack with all of their personal belongings. For now, it’s two kids per small suitcase.
Because we pack light, we also do laundry on the road. It’s only been a problem once. And I think it’s good for the kids to learn how to use a laundromat.
And if we forget something…and it has happened, there is always a Walmart/Target/general store nearby.
Cook Whenever Possible
We like to eat semi-healthy when we travel. We are limited to food choices due to dietary restrictions, and cooking whenever possible just makes sense. If we will only be gone for the weekend, I tend to cook before we leave and stock the cooler. If we will be gone longer, we like to have access to a cooking source. It makes travelling easy on the budget and saves us from gaining 5lbs everytime we hit the road. In fact, with all of the hiking we do, we generally end up losing a few pounds.
We love inspiring all families, big and small, to travel more. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments!