Vacation Primer with 5 Kids

In our 15 years of marriage, we have not taken many vacations. Most of our trips have been to see family or stay with friends. We were never entirely on our own in an unfamiliar place with all 5 kids. So, we decided to stick our toes in the water before we struck out on a massive vacation. We went to Houston, spent the night in a hotel, and went to the King Tut exhibit.

First, going somewhere for the first time will always take approximately 25% longer to get there than it should. We “should” only be three hours from Houston, but it took us four hours to get there with only one potty break. That put us in a busy, unfamiliar city after dark. A teensy bit stressful, but we got to our hotel in one piece.

Second, plan for needing extra bedding, no matter how many people you booked in the room. I phoned in our reservations because you can’t book seven people in one room over the Internet. I think the customer care lady fudged to get us all in because I distinctly told her 7 people, but my reservation said 6. Who am I to argue? The room was actually a bedroom with a sitting area. We slept three in the king size bed, three on the sleeper sofa, and one on a recliner chair. It worked, but next time I’ll throw in a sleeping bag or two. I might add that this arrangement won’t work as kids get bigger. The two year old in bed with us won’t be the same experience in a few more years.

Third, allow plenty of time to get places. GPS isn’t infallible, even in a large city. My maps app on my phone had us turning the wrong way on a street, and it took us a mile or so to figure out that it didn’t look like a neighborhood where the Museum of Fine Arts would be located. We turned around and drove for almost 15 minutes before finally arriving just in time for our scheduled entrance. The King Tut tickets are purchased for set times, so you only have about a 30-minute window following your ticket time to get in.

Finally, relax and have fun. That’s what a vacation is all about. Besides having to be at the museum at a certain time, we made a concerted effort to roll with the flow the rest of the day. Want to have a two hour lunch at the Aquarium Restaurant and watch the fish? Sure! Want to take a 10 mile side trip on the way home. Why not? It’s vacation!

I hope this was the first of several excursions over the next few years. We probably won’t be doing any cruises or foreign treks, but I want to make great memories for my kids.

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