15 tips for travelling with large families this summer

Flickr/Joe ShlabotnikTravelling with a lot of people can be stressful.

Summer is here, and in Australia that means family road trips, involving stress and a lot of spending, especially if you’re travelling with a large family.

But this doesn’t mean there can’t be ways to take the stress out of your plans. It doesn’t matter if you’re travelling with eight people or close to 20 this year, finding new ways to make the busiest, most stressful, and most dreaded time to travel is possible.

Here are 15 ways that my large family and I have made travelling during the holiday season easier.


Always carry wet wipes.

Yevhen Prozhyrko/ShutterstockEveryone needs them.

Although everyone in our family is grown – with the exception of my 4-year-old niece – wet wipes are a consistent need for us when packing. Not only do they help clean my niece up when she gets a bit messy, they serve as ways to keep us clean, too. From cleaning dirt from our faces and hands to wiping sweat away when needed, wet wipes serve multiple purposes for the young and old.


Only plan one big activity per day.

Shutterstock/YanLevDon’t tire everyone out.

When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to want to fit multiple activities in one day. What I’ve learned when travelling with our large family, which can sometimes include 10 people total, trying to plan more than one big activity per day can damper the mood.

For example, spending all morning and half of the afternoon at one theme park and then attempting to visit a second can be exhausting for not only the youngest of the group but for the adults, too.

By scheduling one big activity per day though, you’re able to enjoy the activity fully and do it without wearing yourself out too much.


Be sure to think of everyone when choosing a destination.

Kate Wade/Getty ImagesTry to keep everyone happy.

Before we plan a big activity – whether a weekend getaway or a week-long departure – the first thing we do is sit down together to determine what would be best for everyone going on the trip. From the youngest who is under five to the eldest couple over 50, our goal is to consider everyone’s capabilities before travelling. By doing this, we are able to ensure that there is something that everyone can enjoy or is at least willing to give a try.


Travel with an air mattress, just in case.

Whether you’re staying in a hotel, renting a cabin, or lodging with family, a good thing to remember is to bring an air mattress. Though queen- or full-sized mattresses are probably ideal, depending on the amount of room you have, that may not be possible. So, travelling with a twin size may work better. Having an extra place to sleep has helped my family out tremendously when things have been tight.


Purchase food and snacks at the local grocery store.

Alex Wong/GettyBuy it when you get there.

Though it’s typically encouraged to pack your food from home prior to leaving on your trip, if your family is large, you’ll want to make sure you have as much room as possible. So, purchasing food once you get the to city you’re vacationing in can help you save room and even cut costs with eating out, too.


Make a list for every person’s suitcase that will be coming along on the trip.

Before any and (almost) every trip my large family and I take, there’s a list that everyone has to ensure that nothing is forgotten. And, before we zip up our suitcase for the last time, we go over the checklist one last time. By adopting this tip for your holiday travel – and any travel plans after that – you’ll avoid having to stop at the store for every forgotten thing.


Leave room in your schedule for exploring.

ShutterstockDon’t over-plan.

Visiting a new place will usually cause families to pack their days with back-to-back activities. Though that may sound like a good way to see as much of a city as you can, leaving room in your schedule to simply explore is a better way to see more than you could imagine.


Before visiting restaurants, check their high traffic hours.

During the time you are looking up information on those restaurants you heard so much about, be sure to check their high-traffic times, too. By doing this, you and your large party avoid long wait times for big tables, issues being accommodated, and avoid sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with another table.


Even if someone just went, point out the bathrooms each time you pass them.

ZM_Photo/ShutterstockInevitably, someone will have to go.

Regardless of the age of people that you’re travelling with, there will always be that one person who says they have to go to the bathroom after your recent pit stop. Likewise, children tend to “forget” that they have to go.

So, if you’ve decided to travel somewhere new this holiday season and will be sightseeing, be sure to point out all the places where bathrooms are so that you can avoid accidents and the multiple inconvenient stops to the bathroom.


Give everyone a journal and/or disposable camera to capture the trip from their point of view.

NBCNo two versions of the trip are the same.

Travelling during the holiday season can produce some amazing memories for everyone in the family and one thing we like to do in our large family is give everyone the opportunity to capture them as they see fit. After the trip, you can go back and share those moments that you jotted down or the photos that you captured for sacred keepsakes.


If the distance isn’t too bad, choose to travel by road instead of by plane.

Although travelling by plane may be faster for you this holiday season, travelling by car will be easier on your pockets. Whenever my family and I are all travelling together, we choose to drive – if our destination is not too far – instead of fly because it saves us money.

Not to mention, you’ll be able to pack more, too. And, as an added tip, try renting two smaller cars opposed to one big van; the price will usually be cheaper.


Pack a cooler if possible.

ShutterstockIt will come in handy.

No matter where you’re staying, having a place to keep your things cold may not be possible. Or, if you do have some room, it may not be enough.

Packing a cooler to be able to keep your food and drinks cold when needed will keep you from having to run back and forth to the grocery story and make for a good place to store those delicious leftovers from that much talked about restaurant.


Always, and I do mean always, pack extra.

Flickr/Joe ShlabotnikSeriously, you’ll need it.

A rule of thumb in my family is to always pack extra. Though that may seem like it will take up room in your luggage, my mum has always explained to us that there are just certain things that you need extra of. Underwear is one of those things. And, if you’re worried about packing too many pieces of clothing, pack two shirts to every one pair of pants – to cut down on items.


Pack medicine – even if no one is sick.

With the weather changing during the holiday season, it’s easy for anyone to get sick unexpectedly. A good rule of thumb for travelling with your large family this holiday season would be to bring medicine for everyone in the house – even if no one is sick. From the youngest to the oldest, pack something that can solve the issue if a runny nose occurs.


Enjoy your time together.

ShutterstockIt’s precious.

With the headache and planning that comes with travelling with a large family, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your schedule that you forget to enjoy time with your family. Remember: the holiday season is especially meant to spend time with those you love the most.

Don’t miss out on it because of all the stress that can sometimes come with travelling.

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