When Garrett and I decided that we wanted to take everyone on our trip to Hawaii, I sat down and made a list of things I thought we could do to make the trip a little easier on us, but still fun and memorable for this kids. After the trip, I reworked my list a bit to include things I discovered while we were on vacation, and I removed a few ideas I had that didn't quite pan out.
A few days after we got home, Garrett and I jumped on Periscope (I'm @leannebarlow over there, make sure to follow along if you don't already!) I uploaded our scope at the bottom of this post, but I thought I would break it down for you here as well...
INVOLVE THE KIDS EARLY ON
Shortly after we booked our trip, Garrett and I decided we wanted to get the boys super pumped about our vacation. So before telling them, we randomly talked about traveling and fun places we would like to travel as a family. We casually mentioned Hawaii and how beautiful and fun it would be to go there. We got them excited about Hawaii before they even knew we were going.
To tell them, we were big gigantic dorks and put on leis and grass skirts, and hula'd into the family room in pure unadulterated embarrassing-parent fashion. (lucky for us, the kids are too young to know that they should have been royally embarrassed by this). We made telling them about our trip fun and memorable before we even left for vacation.
SET REALISTIC SIGHTSEEING EXPECTATIONS
We really limited the placed we planned on physically traveling to on our trip. We've learned from past vacations that the boys have the most fun when they get to just play at the hotel pool all they want. So we put our focus on booking some really great hotels rather than spending the money on the excursions we could take that would be away from the hotels. (I talked more about the hotels we stayed at here and here)
MAKE PACKING KID FRIENDLY
We tried to keep our packing as light as we could, and thought about things we would actually use. We knew we really wanted phones and electronics to capture our memories on the trip, so we ordered waterproof cases for our phones, and a good backpack to store our camera in. (I wrote about how to create a family travel video in this post).
I looked through new bathing suits for our trip on Zappos.com with the boys, and let them pick out the style of the suit they wanted and the color of their shoes. I was grateful their free one-day-shipping made it super easy to get everything on time. (or exchange it for free if needed)
I let them pick out a few inexpensive things to pack in their own backpacks on the flight. We got tiny notebooks, a small thing of crayons, and one little toy that they couldn't play with until we were actually on the plane. That made them excited to fly and helped keep them entertained on the long flight.
GET TO THE AIRPORT EARLY...REALLY EARLY
Most airports are extra crowded during summer/travel months. We were stressed enough trying to get everything ready for the trip, we didn't want the added stress of possibly missing our flight. We ended up getting to the airport 3 1/2 hours before our flight and we were calm because we knew we had plenty of time. We let the boys run around at the airport to get out their energy. It's always better to try and find things to do with the kids because you have extra time at the airport than being stressed and rushing through the airport with kids!
SOMETIMES EASE OUTWEIGHS PRICE
We did a few things throughout our trip that cost us a little more, but were well worth the hassle of trying to save a few bucks. For example, one of the nights we ordered pizza and paid to have it delivered right to our room, rather than try to go drive to pick it up. We were all wiped out from a long day at the beach and that gave us time to bathe the boys and enjoy a simple dinner delivered right to us.
EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE FIRST
Of course we wanted the boys to realize how lucky they are to be on vacation. But instead of telling them "Do you realize how lucky you are?" or "Aren't you so thankful that we are in Hawaii on vacation?!" we talked about how grateful we were instead. "I am so lucky that I get to have all my boys with me here on vacation!" This accomplishes 2 things: it shows your kids how much you love having them part of your family, and it teaches them that this is something they should be grateful for too! And it worked!
PLAN AHEAD FOR THE MEMORIES YOU WANT TO COME HOME WITH
I knew that I wanted to get some shots of our whole family on the beach, so I did some research on local photographers in the area and contacted one whose work I loved. We scheduled our shooting date in advance and it was so worth it to have these memories from our trip captured professionally!