As we’ve embarked on full time travel this past year, we’ve learned so much! As of the day I’m recording this, we have been traveling full time for exactly 11 months. And while I feel like we are always refining the process, we’ve also gotten so much better at it!
This episode is inspired by the fact that I’ve gotten a handful of friends messaging me, asking for travel tips for this summer. Some are going camping for the weekend, one friend is taking an 8 week trip staying in cabins, another friend is embarking on a 3 month RV trip, and others are venturing out in their local areas for day trips.
So after thinking about it, here are my travel tips for families (especially those with little kids).
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Psst: This is our very last episode under the name of Homemaking Foundations. ALL of my episodes will still be here in the feed for you, but all 330 episodes will be set to episode 0. The next episode to come out will be episode 1, under season 1 of Finding Joy in Your Home. All the same amazing content…just under a new name to better capture what we do here!
1. Just do it.
Go. Make it happen. It might sound overwhelming. It might be overwhelming as you pack and get ready. It might be a lot more work than just staying home…but go.
The memories and experiences are worth it. And you’ll get better at it with time.
2. Plan as best you can, but go with the flow.
For those of us planner types, we can get deep into the details of planning out summer plans. In fact, I actually LOVE planning out our trips. I get very geeky and excited about mapping out the perfect route, where we will stay, and what we will do. Whether you dread or love this step…you have to remember to take it all in stride. It’s NOT going to be perfect, in fact, it’s often in the imperfect that we remember things the most.
We’ve had RV plans fall through last minute, which ended up being huge blessings in the things we ended up doing. On moving days, we are always so exhausted after taking down camp, driving to a new location, and setting up again. But then the sun dawns the next day and we are ready for fresh exploring.
3. Stock up on activities for kids…and slowly release them.
Don’t give them all out at once. On long travel days, we usually let the kids just read or do their own thing for the first 2 hours or so. Usually until our first rest or gas stop. Then we will pull out a craft or activity and let them play with that for a while. A few hours later when we are starting to get tired, I’ll pull out something else new!
The key, for when you are traveling a lot, is to find cheap stuff! The dollar tree is my favorite place to grab stuff and I’ve gotten creative with the things I’ll get for the kids to do. Some ideas:
- $1 crayon and picture packs
- $1 Felt pictures with markers
- $1 magic market packets. Or get the $5 from Walmart, they usually come with several pens and sheets of paper.
- I’ll buy random stickers and scrapbooking stuff + packet of markets + $1 notebook for each kid and have them write their own book.
- $1 activity books
- Walmart as these cool glitter poster boards for $1 each. Give them stickers + pens and make a poster
- Print off mazes, activites, and pages from Pinterest and bind into a book for each one.
- Etch a sketches, Melissa and Doug Water wow books, etc.
It’s not until usually the final hour or so that we break out the Kindle fires and let them watch a movie. I’m not against using screens on long card rides, but since we do it SO often, I like to save it until the very end so they are not asking from minute #1 of being in the car.
Not only do we have long travel days from one location to the next, we also drive a lot once we are at that location. For example, we just drove 2.5 hours one day into Washington D.C. two days in a row. So not only do we need to get creative with travel day food, we also need to plan for adventure day food.
If you are taking a one week vacation out of your normal, you might not mind spending more and eating out more. But if you are on a tighter budget, or do it a lot more often like us, then good snacks become a must!
On travel days, we don’t eat out at all. We want to save that budget for fun places to eat out at our destinations. So I will usually prepare a quick breakfast everyone can eat in the car, make a few dozen healthy muffins for lunch, and lots of snacks in between. When we go to national parks and out on adventure days, we almost always pack lunch (and breakfast if we got started early enough). A lot of time on adventure days we will get something to eat on the way home. In fact, it’s our family tradition to find a local pizza place each time we leave a National Park.
I like to stock up on filing, healthy snacks: nut packs, carrot sticks, celery, pack cheese slices and healthy beef jerkey, muffins, and good bars.
5. Think outside the box with adventures
Before traveling full time, we didn’t have a lot of extra money to take long vacations or stay in hotels often or anything. So we did a little actual tent camping. But a lot of what we did was day trips! We knew we wouldn’t live in California much longer, so we made a massive bucket list of local things (within a 3 hour one way drive) and each friday was our Adventure day! We went locally 30 minutes away and we drove 3 hours into San Francisco.
We got creative and did tons of amazing hiking and exploring local adventure days. That was in 2019 while we were desperately waiting for our house to sell in a market that had crashed…looking back now…2019 was one of our favorite years because of all those adventure days!
It’s amazing how little of your own state or area most of us have seen. Don’t let a small budget hold you back. Pack your food and stay local – you can still have incredible adventures!!