I attended a conference this summer and one night sat down to dinner with three women I had just met. All international travelers, they took turns sharing stories and I was entranced by the adventures they’d had – they were so much greater than my own.
And then I shared about the adventure we had just returned from – a 2,000 mile drive with our 4 small children to camp, enjoy the sights and hang out with family.
They were shocked that I had four kids, let alone took them on adventures.
That’s when I realized that while we haven’t visited Africa (yet), adventure and travel is a priority in our family. And it can be done, whether you have 1, 4 or 7 children. You just have to remember a few things.
Our kids can be a little, um, noisy. Especially at night. We were concerned about this, so we thought we’d practice.
Before our yurting trip on the coast, we stayed in a yurt overnight in a local campground so that we all had an idea of what to expect. We practiced for tent trips in our backyard, explaining that we needed to be quiet because tent walls are so thin. (We were tempted to get a huge, multi-room tent because our family is so big, but this 6-person tent gives us plenty of space.)
2. Start Small
If selling all your stuff and traveling the country in an RV or backpacking through Europe with your family sounds like a dream, practice it first.
Borrow or rent an RV and go on a trip a few hours from home. Do the same with backpacking gear (don’t overdo it!) and hit a local spot for some hiking and camping. That way, you can prepare yourself (and the kids) and figure out what you’ll need on an extended trip.
3. Pack Light
Before gravitating toward minimalism, I’d pack an outfit or two for each day we’d be gone. Now, I try to stick to 3 outfits max (toddlers get a little more). I’ve discovered that because we’re living out of a duffel bag, we usually grab what’s on top and wear it over and over. We also visit places where we know we can do laundry. (Read about how I stopped overpacking here.)
4. Be Prepared
That said, we have essentials that must come with us. Snacks, stainless steel water bottles for each person and certain multi-purpose remedies (find my top 7 natural camping essentials here) are at the top of the list. Most melt downs are caused by someone who’s hungry, thirsty or hurt, so I try to cover those bases.
5. Set Realistic Expectations
On our latest adventure, my husband’s dad wanted us to drive 4.5 hours to his house and then drive 14 hours straight to our destination.
We knew doing that would make us crazy, our kids antsy and take the fun out of the trip. Instead, we left two days early, camped overnight, and made lots of potty, coffee and exploration breaks. It took us a lot longer to get there, but we actually enjoyed the journey and our beautiful surroundings.
6. Have Fun
Once you have realistic expectations for your adventure, it’s much easier to relax and have fun. After all, isn’t that the point? For us, this means having a few ideas of things we’d like to do, but mostly it means leaving our days open to spontaneity.