Recently, we went on our first beach vacation as a family of five. I absolutely love the ocean and have waited (not so very) patiently over the last six years to share that love with our girls. But road trips and new places with three young children isn’t always a lot of fun. I’m here to tell you we still had a lot of fun and here are a few tips to help your family vacation be a bit more successful.
- Road Trip Surprises – My favorite road trip tip is to pack a bag with new goodies to unveil along the way. Before the trip I stop at the dollar store or my local Target and pick up some small items. Slinkies, ponies, dolls, notepads and pens or coloring books and crayons – stuff like that. This trip – since two of my girls are a bit older – I packed back packs with a notepad and pen. I found the pens that you click the different colors down like I had as a kid. When my daughter discovered it she said “This is a magical pen!” I also packed felt busy books and a couple of small toys. I let them have these bags right from the start and this kept them busy for a long time. I also packed a separate bag with my dollar store finds. About an hour away from our destination when they were really over the whole road trip thing, I pulled out the slinkies and we didn’t hear another “are we there yet?” for the rest of the trip.
- Snacks – Whether your little ones are bored or truly hungry – having lots of snacks is a lifesaver! On the long car ride, after some intense swimming or sand castle making, or even just for late night munchies you will be thankful for a well stocked snack bag. Be prepared with some family favorites but also try a few new things or maybe something you wouldn’t normally get. I don’t often purchase the small snack size bags of crackers or cookies but on a vacation they save a lot of time with those and kids love that they each get their own bag! Also, hungry kids are cranky kids and we want to avoid that at all costs!
- Sunscreen – I’m pretty good at remembering sunscreen. What I wasn’t good at was remembering to reapply. Set yourself a timer to remember at least every two hours. No one wants to spend their vacation sun burnt. I suggest also bringing a thin t-shirt just in case someone does get a bit pink. This will allow them to continue to enjoy the outdoors and limit further exposure.
- Plastic Baggies – Just go ahead and buy a box of plastic ziptop baggies and pack the whole thing. If you didn’t buy the small prepackaged snacks – the baggies make it easy to pack your own. Plus it helps in a variety of other situations. When your toddler destroys the box the crayons came in – baggie! When your kids wants to collect sand and shells – baggies! When you want to bring your cellphone to the beach to catch some pictures – baggie!
The best tip of all is to simply enjoy your time as a family. Take in all the new things together and experience it through the eyes of your child. If you’re lucky – no one will want to leave when it’s over!