How I Use Humor (and anxiety) to Plan a Family Vacation


Today while the baby napped, I thought (for the eleven billionth time) that we should think about scheduling a family vacation for next year. Because, you know, parenting at home isn’t hard enough – let’s do it on the road.

Oh, dear… yeah, that’s a little bit of humor and even some sarcasm dripping from my keyboard there. Let me just wipe that up… oh, dear me. It’s dripping throughout the whole piece. Oh well. Enjoy a good laugh!

So… What’s the best family vacation when you’ve got small kids?

I’ve heard it said that there’s a difference between a family vacation and a family trip. A family vacation involves actual rest. As such, most family “vacations” are just trips.. and trips mean you’re parenting in a new, unusual location – without the familiar things that you usually turn to when your kids have a meltdown.

And lately, I’m beginning to see it. That’s why we’ve fallen in love with camping – in our ancient, beat up, doesn’t matter how muddy the kids are because it’s so old and everything needs to be replaced anyway camping trailer.

Living in Utah, there’s a whole lot of great outdoorsy type places to go. There’s tons of camping and, if you’re willing to swim in freezing water, some beautiful mountain lakes. There are loads of tent camping sites, cabins to rent, and RV hookups. Or, if you’re a little bit more daring, you can try dispersed camping – our new favorite.

There are a few reasons we love dispersed camping…

  • We go in the middle of the week, so we’re the only ones there.
  • Okay, so it’s mostly that we like getting away and being alone as a family in nature.

But it’s SO much better that way – at least for our family. Don’t get me wrong – we do it safely. I always text my sister an itinerary, a map (complete with longitude and latitude of our approximate campsite), and pack extras of everything, just in case.

Being alone, though, means that:

  • When my daughter screams in the middle of the night because she’s disoriented, the only ones we’re annoying are the local wildlife.
  • My kids can strip down to their undies to play in the creek and I don’t feel **as** bad about it. I really should remember to pack swimsuits, though.
  • We can do crafts, hike, read, sing at the top of our lungs, and do whatever else we want – as long as we clean up after ourselves. And we do – leave a campsite better than you found it, after all!

Does that mean fancy vacations are out?

No, not at all. It just means I’m not brave enough to book them yet! And that’s mostly because my youngest still isn’t sleeping through the night. I’m sure that as she gets older, we’ll go on fancier vacations. You know, ones that involve hotels, Disneyland, and maybe even an airplane.

And maybe by then, my kids will remember to pack a swimsuit – or to at least not strip to their undies every chance they get it. I’m not holding my breath, though…

So until then, I’ll keep skipping planning a family vacation. We’ll take plenty of trips, though. Lots and lots of camping trips…

More Family Vacation Tips

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When we actually go camping right next to a creek, I know my anxiety’s going to spike. That’s why I bring along a good book (or twelve) from my Kindle Unlimited. Then my husband and I alternate watching the kids get muddy – and reading that anxiety into oblivion.

Oh, and if you’re going camping in the woods, don’t forget to buy and download some music off of Amazon Music – because kids these days, y’all. They don’t understand that a radio can’t replay – or that it doesn’t react when you yell “HEY – ALEXA!!” at it. *shrug*

When I need 5 minutes to breathe, I bust out my kids’ favorite camping treat. It’s 5 pure minutes of bliss while they stuff their faces. And I can do some mindfulness meditation to get ready for our 85th hike of the day.

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Kimberly C. Starr

I'm a ginger who loves reading, eating, being a nurse, spending time with my family, and writing about it all. I believe humor is the best medicine, followed very closely by chocolate and tacos.

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