Vacationing with 5 Kids: Part 1-How to Keep Your Sanity

When going on vacation with 5 kids it’s inevitable that you’ll probably lose a little bit of your mind, after all just having 5 kids has already made you lose some of the sanity you once had. So exactly how do you keep yourself sane? How do you keep everyone happy and arguments to a minimum (because just face it, with this many kids fights are going to happen no matter what)?

It can be done, trust me. This is exactly how to do it.


First of all know that…

  1. Yes, I am crazy for saying “Hey let’s vacation with 5 kids; 2 moody teens, 2 in diapers that feel like they’re starving every 30 minutes, and 1 I usually forget is there.”.
  2. I am also crazy for saying “Let’s take this vacation 6 hours away and drive the whole way there cause cooping 7 of us up (along with enough luggage and crap to last 3 weeks) in a mini van sounds like my idea of F-U-N.”.

Family Vacation

So that being said, we’re taking a family vacation.

Woo-hoo. (Can you feel my enthusiasm here?!)

Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing, right? Well not exactly when you have 5 kids. Not only is the pre-vacation week stressful and chaotic and full of trying to figure out what to take and what not to take and exactly how this is all going to go down. But the actual vacation is filled with trying to keep 5 tiny humans happy, fed without spending a small fortune, and trying to keep them all together without losing one somewhere in the process of all that F-U-N.

So how to keep yourself sane before and during vacation with this many kids… (Sorry, I have no advice to help in the aftermath…)

Anything But Romance

Remember you have kids so planning some romantic getaway to a peaceful little island is out. It’s not going to happen so just forget it. Instead you get to go to a hotel with a million water slides and at the end you are all going to look like prunes. Just remember, it’s all for the kids, as long as they’re happy then that’s all that matters. After all it’s only another 17ish years until they’re all graduated and gone and THEN you can have that romantic island getaway if you have the energy or any money left after the children have completely drained you dry.

Yay Water!!!

Water slide paradise it is. Think of what you’re going to need and start making a list at least 2 weeks in advance. I say this because if you’re anything like me you will continuously think of something else that needs to be added to this list. It will be long, probably too long. Edit closer to packing time.

List, List, List

On your list not only include the necessities like clothing and hygiene items but also think about extra things that you may need and that you wouldn’t want to have to go spend extra money on. This could be things like first aid supplies (band aids, antibiotic cream, itch ointment), medications (not only prescriptions that you need but also things like tummyache meds, something for a headache or fever, nausea meds, or anti-diarrheal), something to occupy time when those water slides are closed. Don’t forget the sunscreen too. And if you have little ones like we do then don’t forget the diapers and wipes!

Plan Some Other Activities

Planning all the activities that you’ll be doing while on vacation is a great way to keep some sanity. If everything is planned then you aren’t going to hear, “What are we doing?”, “Where are we going?”, or “I’m bored” three million times. Okay, well maybe you’ll hear them a few less times…at least you can hope.

Are you going to be in the water the entire time you’re on this vacation? Probably. Well you have to eat, use the bathroom, and sleep, but pretty much if the water is open then the kids are going to want to be there. The little ones are going to get way too tired though so other activities have to be planned to keep them occupied that are water free.

Free Free Free

If you’re trying to save money like pretty much everyone in the world is then think about things that are free. City parks, state parks, lakes, rivers, free museums. There are tons of things that almost anywhere you vacation has that can be plenty of fun for free. Depending where you are traveling to there are even some places with free zoos, aquariums, or planetariums.

Just do a little research before the actual vacation while you are writing your packing list. Make a separate list of activities that the area has to offer, their location, cost, and hours of operation. Then take that list and plan what you’ll do for the entire vacation. Of course this is just an outline and you can always change what you’ll do when you are actually there.

Feeding the Kids

Food is expensive on vacation. If I had to feed my herd every meal out while we were gone then I would come home bankrupt. The perfect way to save a bit is to pack things that won’t go bad easily. Think fruits, granola or fruit bars, instant oatmeal, or even a couple pre-made coffee cakes. Things like chips, fruit snacks, sandwich crackers, or cookies are great for snacking.Take drinks as well. That will cut down on costs also.

Another way to save on food, check to see if there is an outdoor grill that you can use or if you could take a small tabletop one (if your room doesn’t have a full kitchen). Grab some hot dogs and buns at a local store and have a quick and cheap lunch or dinner. Order a pizza out to either pick up or be delivered to eat in your room instead at one of the hotel’s many restaurants.

Keep Them Busy


Make sure to take things for the car ride to keep the kids occupied. Things like magnetic board games, books to read, colors and paper, activity books, small toys, electronic devices, or even a portable DVD player and a few movies. All of these things (plus snacks) will keep the kids quiet and hopefully out of your hair for your long drive. Of course until someone will inevitably have to go to the bathroom or one of the little ones will need a diaper change.

In the End

Hopefully these few tips can help to save you a bit of sanity while you’re getting ready for vacation and while you’re there.

Side note…

At the end of this fabulous vacation I’m sure I’ll come back and tell you that it was great but we all know I’ll be more exhausted than I was when I left and on top of it I’ll have 5 tired little people to deal with and about 37 loads of laundry to wash plus cleaning the house that we have left for almost an entire week and grocery shopping because we made sure to eat all the food in the house before we left plus all the unpacking. And then of course there will be the task of getting everyone ready for the summer…summer school, band leadership camp, and then marching band camp…and trying to keep the 3 youngest occupied and happy.


Next year’s vacation…mom gets a day off to leave the house alone. I will sit in my swimsuit, flip-flops, a flowery Hawaiian shirt, big floppy hat, and sunglasses under the shade of a large umbrella by the snow cone stand sipping on icy pina coladas and reading a book all the while pretending I’m in paradise when in reality I’m just a few blocks from my own house in the heart (heat and humidity) of the Midwest.


Follow up with Part 2, Vacationing with 5 Kids: Part 2-How to Pack and Not Take Your Entire House.


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