Tips for Trips:: 5 reminders when traveling with little persons

by Matt MooneyAugust 3, 2012

Our time in Michigan has been all over the map.  We jump back in Big Red Sunday to head south on a 16-hour, two-day jaunt that we are anticipating with feelings typically reserved for dental visits.  Along with a social media fast on the trip, I saw this sticker parked across the road from our cottage on day 1 & decided it was right.

It has been good.  It has been bad.  There have been huge smiles & huge tantrums.  Lena is doing great, recovering from surgery well and seeming to be in her Michigan groove for the most part.  Anders & Hazel have loved being under the same roof with their tousins as well as numerous family members.  But it may be a case of too much of a good thing- as they both have struggled in different ways to adjust to the north.  Anders went through a little season whereby he refused to stay in his bed.  We tried everything to no avail.  Hazel has jumped and yelled more in Michigan than a jr. high cheer squad in the 4th quarter.

As go the kids, so go the adults.  Gin & I, ever attempting to be stalwarths of grace and steady love, have instead ridden the waves of kids as our days have swung between good & glad its over.  I decided to write a note to myself while I was still on the trip, still in the haze and craze of family travel.  I intend to read this again before we head out on the next adventure.  Not to dissuade me, but, rather to better prepare me.  If you have little people and plan on taking them with you somewhere far away, then I recommend you grab a pen.  Because I am going to tell you things that those Mickey Mouse commercials leave out.

1.)  There is no such thing as a vacation in this stage::
I know this must sound negative.  Get over it.  It’s just the way it is.  Whatever your definition of vacation was, will no longer be.  You will do the same things you have been doing, just in a different place.  And that is fine because your children need to go and see and experience different things.  But you will not be on vacation.  I will no longer use the word vacation, rather we will pack the car up for a venue change.

2.)  Pack with purpose::
When you have little persons, save space & weight when packing by not throwing in the book you think you’ll get to.  Hold off on the exercise clothes, they will not be needed as time will never pop up where you can magically go on a jog.  However, if- on the other hand- your exercise clothes are comfortable, then go ahead and pack them and leave anything collared behind.  Jelly stains on the nice shirts you packed will only serve to send you into orbits you would rather not visit.

3.) It is not the kids::
Kids need three things in this stage::  food, structure and rest.  You are screwing with everyone of them.  Not to mention, I become someone I don’t even like when I do not sleep.  Quit thinking your kids must be unique in this department.  They just do not hide it as well as adults do.

4.)  Bring less things but more of each item:: I have not tested this theory, but want to on future trips.  If we brought 21 toy-ish items on this trip, then next time I want to bring 3.  But I want to bring 7 of each of the 3.  90% of all tussles, hair pulls and fist-to-cuffs with the kids have stemmed from the fact that he has that & I want that.  Or you spend half your day looking for a helicopter the size of matchbox.  Bring 7.  There everybody can have one.  What’s that?  You lost it?  Bam!  Here’s another one.

5.)  Hold on & keep going:: Above all, die to the commercial-esque ideas and notions that you have of the perfect vacation.  Take a breath and enjoy the moments.

I made tents with Hazel.
Slept beside Anders.
Lena swam in Lake Michigan.

No matter the hassle, pack it up and go again.  Life is in the living, not in perfection.

7 Comments

  1. Amy Terral on August 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Oh Matt,
    Having traveled quite a bit with our kids and being done with that season (thank goodness), I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you made me laugh out loud! You could have written this post and signed my name to it as well as every other parent out there on the planet! Your way with words and what flows from your heart is pure truth. I actually felt like i was riding on a wave at one point. My kids may be grown, but it won’t be long before I ride those waves with little grands of my own and experience a whole new adventure. I will wait and let you write about that in your own future, because your perspective and words will be much more interesting to read. Love you and your precious family. Can’t wait to hug everyone again at another “venue change”!

  2. Kathy Cazzell on August 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    We traveled a lot with our 5 when they were little until they were grown (in fact we still travel and vacation with them all but we have, so far, grown from 7 to 20). I remember a lot of stress and being so tired on our vacations. But when we talk about trips they laugh and remember the fun things not the things that didn’t go as planned. When I let go of my expectations and learned to “go with the flow” as it seems you have then I was in for unbelievable blessings, great memories and a bunch of fun!! Good for you for learning to do that now. These are fun times for you and Ginny in spite of the exhaustion. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and in response to a previous blog, you were a wonderful influence on so many kids in high school. I still consider it a blessing that you and Jeff have been friends for so long!

  3. Susan Fairchild on August 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Hello from just down the road from Lake Providence! This too made me smile as I not -so -fondly remembered our “Vacation from Hell” (pardon my French but that’s just what it was)! We went to “Dollywood” with an 11 year old, a five year old and 1 year old! What were we thinking! We traveled for days it seemed, got stopped dead still in traffic but finally made it to Dollywood, paid our money (which was outrageous we thought) and 30 minutes into the park, it starts to rain! I won’t bore you with anymore of the details but just to let you know all of us who have been there before can appreciate the place you are in right now! All 3 children are grown now and we have 2 grands…and our “change of venue” these days is everything I remember from traveling with children back in the day…and you are correct..it needs to be done and while I was overwhelmed at the time, I treasure every memory made back then and now we’re making new ones!

  4. Jody McComas on August 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Love this post. You’re so accurate and so witty. We just did an 11 day road trip and it most certainly was not a vacation 🙂 Blessings to you as you travel home.

  5. […] today when I read a blog post by Matt Mooney (who has an incredible family, story and ministry) it totally hit home and had me belly laughing. […]

  6. Erin on August 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

    One of my favorite posts ever (and I’ve been reading for ever!). Hilarious. True. So painfully true. We only have2 littles (7&3 – not that little) but a recent couple of days at the lake reminded me how non-relaxing ‘vacations’ are. And God love you, as a DAD, for noticing it, because I’m pretty sure any shred of stress, frustration, worry, or concern you felt, Ginny felt even a little bit more. Mamas just do. 🙂 bless you all!!

  7. 3motherly on February 17, 2022 at 9:13 am

    2commented

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Our time in Michigan has been all over the map.  We jump back in Big Red Sunday to head south on a 16-hour, two-day jaunt that we are anticipating with feelings typically reserved for dental visits.  Along with a social media fast on the trip, I saw this sticker parked across the road from our cottage on day 1 & decided it was right.

It has been good.  It has been bad.  There have been huge smiles & huge tantrums.  Lena is doing great, recovering from surgery well and seeming to be in her Michigan groove for the most part.  Anders & Hazel have loved being under the same roof with their tousins as well as numerous family members.  But it may be a case of too much of a good thing- as they both have struggled in different ways to adjust to the north.  Anders went through a little season whereby he refused to stay in his bed.  We tried everything to no avail.  Hazel has jumped and yelled more in Michigan than a jr. high cheer squad in the 4th quarter.

As go the kids, so go the adults.  Gin & I, ever attempting to be stalwarths of grace and steady love, have instead ridden the waves of kids as our days have swung between good & glad its over.  I decided to write a note to myself while I was still on the trip, still in the haze and craze of family travel.  I intend to read this again before we head out on the next adventure.  Not to dissuade me, but, rather to better prepare me.  If you have little people and plan on taking them with you somewhere far away, then I recommend you grab a pen.  Because I am going to tell you things that those Mickey Mouse commercials leave out.

1.)  There is no such thing as a vacation in this stage::
I know this must sound negative.  Get over it.  It’s just the way it is.  Whatever your definition of vacation was, will no longer be.  You will do the same things you have been doing, just in a different place.  And that is fine because your children need to go and see and experience different things.  But you will not be on vacation.  I will no longer use the word vacation, rather we will pack the car up for a venue change.

2.)  Pack with purpose::
When you have little persons, save space & weight when packing by not throwing in the book you think you’ll get to.  Hold off on the exercise clothes, they will not be needed as time will never pop up where you can magically go on a jog.  However, if- on the other hand- your exercise clothes are comfortable, then go ahead and pack them and leave anything collared behind.  Jelly stains on the nice shirts you packed will only serve to send you into orbits you would rather not visit.

3.) It is not the kids::
Kids need three things in this stage::  food, structure and rest.  You are screwing with everyone of them.  Not to mention, I become someone I don’t even like when I do not sleep.  Quit thinking your kids must be unique in this department.  They just do not hide it as well as adults do.

4.)  Bring less things but more of each item:: I have not tested this theory, but want to on future trips.  If we brought 21 toy-ish items on this trip, then next time I want to bring 3.  But I want to bring 7 of each of the 3.  90% of all tussles, hair pulls and fist-to-cuffs with the kids have stemmed from the fact that he has that & I want that.  Or you spend half your day looking for a helicopter the size of matchbox.  Bring 7.  There everybody can have one.  What’s that?  You lost it?  Bam!  Here’s another one.

5.)  Hold on & keep going:: Above all, die to the commercial-esque ideas and notions that you have of the perfect vacation.  Take a breath and enjoy the moments.

I made tents with Hazel.
Slept beside Anders.
Lena swam in Lake Michigan.

No matter the hassle, pack it up and go again.  Life is in the living, not in perfection.

7 Comments

  1. Amy Terral on August 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Oh Matt,
    Having traveled quite a bit with our kids and being done with that season (thank goodness), I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you made me laugh out loud! You could have written this post and signed my name to it as well as every other parent out there on the planet! Your way with words and what flows from your heart is pure truth. I actually felt like i was riding on a wave at one point. My kids may be grown, but it won’t be long before I ride those waves with little grands of my own and experience a whole new adventure. I will wait and let you write about that in your own future, because your perspective and words will be much more interesting to read. Love you and your precious family. Can’t wait to hug everyone again at another “venue change”!

  2. Kathy Cazzell on August 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    We traveled a lot with our 5 when they were little until they were grown (in fact we still travel and vacation with them all but we have, so far, grown from 7 to 20). I remember a lot of stress and being so tired on our vacations. But when we talk about trips they laugh and remember the fun things not the things that didn’t go as planned. When I let go of my expectations and learned to “go with the flow” as it seems you have then I was in for unbelievable blessings, great memories and a bunch of fun!! Good for you for learning to do that now. These are fun times for you and Ginny in spite of the exhaustion. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and in response to a previous blog, you were a wonderful influence on so many kids in high school. I still consider it a blessing that you and Jeff have been friends for so long!

  3. Susan Fairchild on August 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Hello from just down the road from Lake Providence! This too made me smile as I not -so -fondly remembered our “Vacation from Hell” (pardon my French but that’s just what it was)! We went to “Dollywood” with an 11 year old, a five year old and 1 year old! What were we thinking! We traveled for days it seemed, got stopped dead still in traffic but finally made it to Dollywood, paid our money (which was outrageous we thought) and 30 minutes into the park, it starts to rain! I won’t bore you with anymore of the details but just to let you know all of us who have been there before can appreciate the place you are in right now! All 3 children are grown now and we have 2 grands…and our “change of venue” these days is everything I remember from traveling with children back in the day…and you are correct..it needs to be done and while I was overwhelmed at the time, I treasure every memory made back then and now we’re making new ones!

  4. Jody McComas on August 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Love this post. You’re so accurate and so witty. We just did an 11 day road trip and it most certainly was not a vacation 🙂 Blessings to you as you travel home.

  5. […] today when I read a blog post by Matt Mooney (who has an incredible family, story and ministry) it totally hit home and had me belly laughing. […]

  6. Erin on August 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

    One of my favorite posts ever (and I’ve been reading for ever!). Hilarious. True. So painfully true. We only have2 littles (7&3 – not that little) but a recent couple of days at the lake reminded me how non-relaxing ‘vacations’ are. And God love you, as a DAD, for noticing it, because I’m pretty sure any shred of stress, frustration, worry, or concern you felt, Ginny felt even a little bit more. Mamas just do. 🙂 bless you all!!

  7. 3motherly on February 17, 2022 at 9:13 am

    2commented

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