One of the things that makes us lucky to live in the Dominican Republic are the short weekend getaways we can take. I love weekend getaways for a few reasons but one of the biggest being that there’s only a short amount of time to enjoy it so you can’t cram a ton of “get” into two days of away. In fact, because there’s limited time, I usually plan for nothing but rest and relaxation.
Anything longer than a long weekend, makes me feel like we need to see, eat, experience, and be in the pulse of wherever we’re going. And while seeing, eating, experiencing, and being in the pulse sounds like a traveler’s heaven, sometimes, too much doing could totally screw up your actual trip. So, the next time your planning one, try to avoid overdoing your family vacation.
Our family of 4 brings back two suitcases when we go home for the summer (with a 3rd option*). That’s 2 suitcases for 4 people for 2 months. If you are traveling with 4 suitcases for 4 people for 1 week, you have overpacked. You never need as much as you think and if you pack like a pro and find some useful packing tips, you won’t have to worry about lugging around one suitcase per person.
When we arrived in the Dominican Republic, someone in our cultural orientation asked if we could brush our teeth with the tap water. Huh? I knew we couldn’t drink the tap water but not brush our teeth? It sounded even more ridiculous when I pictured myself brushing my teeth with Evian water. I understand you want to keep your kids safe when you travel and traveling could definitely bring out lots of fears and worries but try to not let worries get the best of you. Let your kids (and yourself) experience the culture and world around you without bringing your own worry-baggage to the mix. The truth is your kids can get sick or hurt when you’re on vacation, in fact, they probably have already - and they can also get sick or hurt when they’re at home, in fact, they probably do. Unless you’re going to some remote location where there are no hospitals, pack some tylenol and try to worry less.
So you’re visiting France and want to see the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. But you have to see those things in one day because you only have 2 days in Paris before you go to the countryside where you have another full list of things to see. On the way to the Louvre, you’re kid sees a merry-go-round (because there’s tons in Paris) and asks to go. You look at your watch and know that you have just enough time to get to the museum before your tour starts. “Sorry, honey. We don’t have time for that.” Your kid starts to cry. Then throws their tantrum-limp body to the floor. Now you’re embarrassed and mad and screaming for them to get up. They get limper. You drag their lifeless body across the Champs-Élysées. Good job. That’s a vacationing win, isn’t it? I know it’s tempting to want to see it all but don’t lose sight of the most important part of your family vacation: your family. Chances are your kid won’t remember the Louvre but they will remember that magic merry-go-round in the middle of Paris.
We went to Orlando this summer to see the Mouse. Husband and I could have overwhelmed ourselves with all things Disney but we tried to maintain some sense of sanity. Did we want to go to all of the 4 parks? Yes. Did we need to? Nope – nor could we really afford to – and trying to would have been overwhelming to our schedule and our wallet. There is no rule saying we can’t go back to Disney someday and see more so this time around we focused on Magic Kingdom; after all, our 3-year-old daughter was only interested in meeting princesses and our 2-year-old son was most excited about meeting Donald Duck and seeing Goofy in a parade. The purpose of that trip was to experience it together with our kids and their grandparents, so don’t overwhelm yourself into thinking that you need to create some kind of magical experience wherever you go. Remember the magic is in the merry-go-round in the middle of Paris, the moments you didn’t plan for or see coming.
(*a 3rd option – There are things we can’t get in the Dominican Republic so we pack a duffel bag in one of our suitcases and use it as a 3rd bag on our return trip when we know we’ll need another suitcase.)