We want to share our travel experiences with the ones we love most. If you have a large family, you are traveling with a lot of people. This can bring unique challenges and unique opportunities. We are fortunate to have Sharon Rowley, a real life mom of six and a travel expert who runs the Mom of 6 blog, on our show today.
Sharon offers all kinds of resources for planning, organizing, eating, and living with a large family. We especially love her travel tips, and she generously shares them with us. We talk about when to rent a house or a hotel, when to fly, how to plan for meals, tips for saving on food, tips for saving on activities, and the importance of staying flexible. Sharon offers great tips for making sure everyone enjoys the trip, and she offers a couple of hidden gems we didn’t know about.
[03:03] Sharon lives in Westchester County New York, and she has six kids. Her kids are between the ages of 13 and 18. They have been traveling since her oldest child was literally an infant.
[03:30] When they moved to New York, they often traveled back to visit their family. They have also done overseas travel.
[04:04] On her blog Mom of 6, Sharon writes about how to help other moms get more organized and create routines for their children. She helps with things like throwing fun birthday parties that don't cost a fortune. And everything else that comes into play when you are raising six kids.
[04:36] They also talk a lot about family road trips.
[04:52] She has a lot of great ideas dealing with teens and tweens.
[05:24] Chris and Di have two kids, but they often bring their nephew with them and even an extra child adds to the dynamic.
[05:50] Sharon's favorite thing is to stay at an Airbnb (discount), Vrbo or similar arrangement. If they are traveling for more than four or five days, it's great to find a house to stay in.
[06:31] When you're renting, you have kitchen access. Food expenses really go up when you have a large amount of people.
[08:19] For a night or two they like Springhill Suites, Embassy Suites, and Residence Inns.
[09:20] Sharon likes to use a website called SixSuitcaseTravel for hotel research.
[10:02] Camping is always the most economical way to travel, but there are other logistics involved.
[10:41] They love camping on the North rim of The Grand Canyon and Fort Wilderness Disney.
[11:57] Flying for 8 people can get expensive. 8 passenger cars are also expensive.
[12:58] If the trip is driveable, they do drive it, and they own a large van. There are so many opportunities to see the country.
[14:06] Audiobooks (free audiobook) are good for younger kids. Screen time is allowed during travel, but it’s limited at home.
[15:40] Leaving at 1:00 am is also a great way to have kids sleep through a lot of the trip.
[18:17] They tend to eat out for lunch as opposed to dinner. If they do go out to dinner, they try to make a reservation.
[19:50] A crock pot is important. Food can be put in before they head out for the day.
[20:40] When they arrive in town, Sharon likes to hit up the grocery stores and stock up on snacks.
[21:51] Attractions can get pricey. Save your budget for the fun stuff. Do your research in advance and plan out your tickets in advance. Get a national park pass. Get Groupon deals. Find free museums. Plan to make it the most cost effective, but it's all about the attractions. Businesses also put coupons on their Facebook page.
[24:27] Pick up brochures to travel like a local.
[24:46] Planning ahead makes everyone happy. Make lists and make dreams come true. That's what it’s all about for Sharon.
[26:31] One major pain point for many group travelers is making sure that everyone on the trip is happy.
[29:10] Part of travel and part of life is sometimes cutting your losses and finding something different to do.
[29:44] Sharon makes bullet points of things to do and maps it out. She also tries to get to places early. She creates a framework and also has backup plans. Having a plan for food makes things better.
Links and Resources:
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