I know that from my tweets it may sound like traveling with kids is all just unicorns and rainbows. But I admit, it´s NOT always like that.
Because, you see, traveling with 5 kids sometimes means that you´re seeminly traveling with half of the belongings you´ve acquired in your 30+ years on this earth. I can´t count the occasions on which I´ve wished I could just pack it all into one big Mary Poppins bag!
On our trip to Copenhagen 3 years ago we looked like this:
Since we had a car we needed the car seats for 3 kids and since it was more expensive to rent them than to buy new ones, and still too expensive to buy new ones, we took ours with us. The youngest two were still using their strollers and we decided it would come in handy to have the baby carriage for the 8 week old to sleep in when we visited our friends at their summer house.
I´m telling you, this is NOT how we travel usually!
You see, we lived in Denmark for 6 years between ´99-´05 and for the first 4 years we didn´t have a car, although we had 3 kids. This meant that most of our trips were taken by train, with backpacks on our shoulders and kids strapped in strollers or in baby carriers against our chests! One of the best part about those trips was that it taught us to travel light!
What does that mean for a family of 7?
It means that we can usually fit all our stuff for a 3 week trip in warmer climate into 3 medium sized sports bags.
How do we do it?
1. Everyone is allowed 1 bag of clothes (think grocery bag) and shoes. Swimming gear and towels are kept seperately though.
2. We pack outfits that are easy to mix and match. No fun to have a whiny diva in the morning because she can´t use the only pair of clean pants she has left with any of the t-shirts in the bag (and yes! this can be a serious issue, especially when you have 3 girls).
3. Take clothes that dry quickly. That way it´s easy to rinse them in the bathroom sink in the evening and allow them to dry over night. Sometimes they´re just laid our to try in the sun while we´re taking a swim.
4. Multicolored shirts and sun dresses work wonders ;-)Noone will tell the difference between a hot pink ice cream stain and the pink and purple flowers on the dress!
5. Shawls are great, at least for the girls. They cover you up when you want to enter churches or other spiritual places that don´t allow bare shoulders and they keep you warm in the breeze late at night. For guys long sleeved cotton shirts can do the same. Roll up those sleeves in the day time and wear the shirt open w. a t-shirt underneath and roll down and button up at night. This will also work well for most restaurants ;-)
6. Make sure that band aids and pain meds are in hand luggage and taken along each day to whatever adventures you have planned. You never know when you might step full force onto a killer sea urchin and have 40+ needles stuck in your foot!
Who would have thought that this picturesque bay was full of sea urchins that would leave their needles in your foot and not release them all until 60 days later?
7. Bring sun screen with you. The first few rays you encounter when you step out of the airport might be strong enough to burn your sun deprived skin and ruin your beach/pool fun for the next few days. (Yes, I have spent 2 days in my room in Spain, lathered in joghurt wishing for a quick death)
Everyone takes their own personal small backpack for the flight/ride and day trips. I tend to stay out of what they put in there. Through experience they have learned that it´s fun to have something that can be used over and over again:
A deck of playing cards for a quick game when lounging out in the shade and a favorite teddy to help you sleep in a new bed and new surroundings.
I´d love to hear what other families take along?