Traveling With a Large Family: Important Rules to Remember

I love this guest post from my friend, the wino (she’s one half of the dynamic duo better known as The Lazy Travelers), and couldn’t wait to share it! As with anything that escapes the wino’s lips (or fingertips), it’s quite entertaining, and it’s also very genuine. Enjoy!

If it wasn’t already blaringly obvious from my attempts to claw my way to center of attention in most (i.e. practically all) situations, I wanted to formally announce that I am, in fact, a middle child. To add insult to injury, I’m the middle child in a family with six children, which exacerbates my classic middle-child-syndrome to an infinite degree (my blogging cohort and long-time best friend, the romantic, can confirm this).

Here’s the situation: I’m child number four in a line of six children born within eight years of each other. My only sister being the eldest, I’m the second girl, sandwiched between two older brothers and two younger brothers. We’re all a little loud. We’re all extremely argumentative. We fight, often and passionately. We wrestle (even the girls) and we’ve been to known to cause drama almost everywhere we go.

Who wouldn't want to travel with these six kids?

Who wouldn’t want to travel with these six kids?

This made traveling while we were growing up a little difficult. On top of financing vacations for a family of eight, my parents were constantly challenged with finding destinations that kept us all entertained while simultaneously keeping us out of trouble. Over the years, we’ve tried it all—Disney World, beach towns, international travel—and we’ve learned the following very important lessons.

Choose the appropriate destination.

No matter what size family you hail from, choosing the appropriate travel destination is always an important part of planning. Growing up, my family stuck to locations they knew would appease my trouble-making over-active brothers. Rather than trips to Europe, we stuck to beaches and resorts. By staying in resorts that offered a variety of child-friendly activities—from swimming to golf to water sports—my parents ensured that we would stay active and for the most part, out of trouble. As we got older, my parents were willing to be a bit more experimental when planning, but even now, we know our limits.

Pick a partner in crime.

The downside to having five siblings? You’re almost always fighting with someone. The upside? Someone always has your back. For me, this often meant sticking with my sister while my brothers fought over who could dig the biggest hole on the beach or who could out-race the other on a jet ski. It was my sister who had my back when my brothers buried me up to my neck in the sand and laid cheese puffs next to my head to attract the seagulls flying overhead (true story), and it was my sister who helped me explain to our dad how we managed to rack up a hundred-dollar tab with margaritas at the pool bar at the ages of 16 and 14, respectively.

Carve out some alone time.

When you come from a family of eight, alone time is extremely rare, especially when traveling, say, via Ford Escort station wagon for the majority of your childhood years. As I got older, I began to realize how important it was for my sanity to find time to spend by myself. Whether it’s lying on the beach with a good book or lounging somewhere quiet with a glass of wine, schedule some alone time to decompress.

Don’t get discouraged.

There were many times that my parents announced at the end of a vacation that “this is the last time we’re ever doing something like this.” Who could blame them? The finances alone of taking six children to Disney World are enough to scare any parents from repeating the experience. Traveling with a large family can be expensive, frustrating, and in my family’s case, headache-inducing. And yet, looking back, the problems we had at the time have made the best stories over family dinners in the years that followed. Now that we’re all in our twenties, we find ourselves reminiscent of the family vacations we took in the past—six kids crammed in a station wagon for hours of driving along I-95, a U-Haul trailer dragging behind, loaded with eight bikes, coolers of food, and enough clothes to outfit an entire army.

Sure, there were fights and sometimes tantrums and my middle-child-syndrome isn’t going away any time soon, but my family of eight has had an incredible time making vacations work. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

All these years and vacations later, we still like each other.

All these years and vacations later, we still like each other.

the wino – After two sojourns abroad as first an undergraduate student and then as a very sorry excuse for a graduate student, she’s learned how to make the most out traveling on a tight budget and a short attention span. She’s mastered how to survive in a foreign country after you’ve lost your purse and all your personal belongings at the pub. She’s nursed hangovers with the best of them on park benches and street-side cafes across Europe. She can tell you when and where it’s NOT appropriate to get a little tipsy (on the steps of the Notre Dame with your mother) and where it’s perfectly acceptable to throw back a pint or two (anywhere on the Emerald Isle).

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15 Responses to Traveling With a Large Family: Important Rules to Remember

  1. thelazytravelers July 31, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    thanks for featuring me, francesca! if you keep having kiddies, this might be useful to you one day 😉 xo, the wino
    thelazytravelers recently posted…ultimately sydney: wining & dining our way through a new cityMy Profile

    • Francesca July 31, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      Thank YOU for writing such a fun post! And no more kiddies for me…. factory is closed!

  2. Traveling Ted August 1, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    Excellent post and great to know my TBEX cohort a little better. Great tips for large families or even small ones. I like the carve out time alone. I do that every chance I get. If I ever see a girl buried in sand with cheese puffs around her head I will protect her from the seagulls while someone digs her out.
    Traveling Ted recently posted…Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Rolling Stones Exhibit and photo essayMy Profile

  3. Pola (@jettingaround) August 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Having only one sibling, I can’t relate to this situation… But it’s great that you have traveled as a family – I can only imagine the logistics of that when you were kids! Great pic of you at the ballpark. 🙂
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted…Touring American Eagle’s Embraer E-175 aircraftMy Profile

  4. Erin at The World Wanderer August 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Obsessed with everything about this, especially the two photos and the stories from your childhood. Great tips too!
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted…Egypt’s Famous Dish: Koshari.My Profile

  5. Adam Sommer August 3, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

    Love this post…we’re growing our family again shortly, and hope to have 3-4 kids ultimately. I always remember growing up with 4 other siblings how fun travel was!

  6. Charu August 5, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    What a neat post! I didn’t grow up with a large family but I definitely know those who did. And for the record, I am with Ted, and shall valiantly take care of the middle sibling 🙂
    Charu recently posted…Five Private Islands You Can Rent for Under $500My Profile

  7. lola August 7, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    whoa! what a BIG and beautiful FAM!! i love knowing this about you the wino. family trips can be challenging but they also make some of the very best memories. xo
    lola recently posted…How to have an Endless Summer…head to the Caribbean!My Profile


  1. the lazy travelers | style spotter: empress sisi - September 4, 2013

    […] She was one of seven children, whose parents let them “play, romp, and horse-ride in an easy-going fashion.” Point for the wino. […]

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