We recently went on an extended family vacation that entailed four kids, four adults, and a whole lot of sunny, beach weather. With so many folks running around we needed to come up with some ideas for family vacation organization.
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My brother secured a suite, my mother flew in from the other side of the country, and #1 and I braved a massive road trip. We had a great time and it was even better to get to see #1 play with all of his cousins.
Since our family’s hadn’t gotten together for a vacation of this style before, we didn’t necessarily have all of our ducks in a row. There were quick trips to Walgreen’s for last minute supplies and a run to the grocery for a cart of munchies. And, who can forget my daily trip to the gas station for a cup of coffee.
Since we had eight of us in a suite, it gave me an opportunity to drum up ideas for future family vacation organization tactics. And, now that we’ve been through it, let me tell you what we’ll be doing next time when we start to plan our family vacation.
First and foremost, I should’ve done better research on what the suite had and didn’t have. I was planning to bring my French press and some coffee, but figured I wouldn’t have a way to heat my water. The suite had a 12-cup coffee maker.
Now, I made certain to pack extra trash bags, dish soap, a sponge, and Lysol wipes. But the suite also had a washer, dryer and dishwasher. And I didn’t bring laundry detergent, dryer sheets, dishwasher tabs, hand soap or paper towels. And, as a germophobe, some of those items were essential.
Since we had our own washer and dryer in the suite, the hotel staff expected us to wash and reuse our linens. And with eight people using a stack of white towels, things got mixed up and mixed around pretty quickly.
By the second day I had no idea which towel I had been using. Rather than guess, I opted to wash the towels and keep better track the next time around.
Next time, to keep the towels organized and prevent anyone from wiping their face with a towel someone else may have wiped their butt with, I’ll be bringing laundry hooks.
These hooks are like part-curtain ring, part-clothespin. They’ll allow our entire party to clip and hang our towels from the shower curtain rod. And, they have enough space to write names on each hook with a permanent marker.
Another problem with having so many people around is that you’re never really sure whose drink is whose. Countless bottles and cups got sat around the suite and unless they were colorful sippy cups, it was easy to lose track of yours.
To eliminate this problem next time, I intend to either
- 1) bring along a permanent marker (the easy route) or
- 2) make coasters for everyone (the fun, creative route).
You can purchase these blank coasters on Amazon and decorate them for everyone before leaving. Or, bring along some markers and turn it into a family craft project.
Just make sure everyone stays accountable at returning their drinks to their rightful coasters.
With so many kids around it was pretty crucial that we maintained a healthy helping of snacks at the ready.
By the end of our vacation, all the leftover snacks found their way into a small plastic container. This worked perfectly! The kids could see what was available to them and it kept their fingers out of the ingredients we needed for meals.
Restaurants can get pricey the more folks you have in your party. It can get about three times as pricey as that when you’re at the beach. For that reason, my sister-in-law planned out some delicious meals for us to cook and eat in the suite. It helped that we tag teamed the prep, too!
For instance, one night we had chicken salad sandwiches planned. We opted to cook the chicken while the youngest family members were taking their daily naps. It was ideal since an adult would already be awake and in the suite with them during that time.
The rest of the ingredients were taken care of just before dinner time and responsibilities were divvied out. It even meant my nephew learned how to cut grapes for the meal.
Planning the meals in advance is a definite key to staying organized. But, it also turned into a memory maker for us. Cooking together brings people closer, what can I say?
As the kiddos get older, this idea will be much more necessary. As for now, if the whole party got split up, we only ever went in three directions. Sometimes, though, we wouldn’t always have our cell phones on us, like when we were on the beach, at the pool, or even just charging the things.
In those instances, a quick peek in the room to see everyone’s whereabouts could have easily been accomplished with a dry erase in/out board. Yes, like the one’s you see in offices. But these really help keep track of the masses.
A daily, morning meeting will help to keep everyone on the same page, too. Go over what everyone wants to do that day and what must be done and when. Discuss any reservations or meal plans and when and where to meet for those. Throw out ideas for activities and determine who is responsible for whom during those times.
Above all, remember to have fun, take lots of pictures and enjoy yourself! Your children won’t be children forever and if that means you end up missing a reservation to watch the dolphins, so be it.
How Do You Stay Organized?
Now that you know my tips for keeping your linens, drinks, snacks/meals, and people organized, tell me your ideas for staying organized on family vacation.
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