How We Travel With Six Kids + Minimal Stress

Since we took our family of eight on a two-week European holiday several people have asked me “how did you do it?”

So, here’s how we did it:

1. Pack Light: For our trip to Europe, everyone packed about three days worth of clothes into their own backpack (including me and Chris!). To keep it simple, I only packed black, white and grey clothes in my backpack, so everything was interchangeable and super comfortable. Traveling with kids is no fashion show, and I am not too worried about random Europeans judging me on my wardrobe. I just wanted to keep things easy.

I followed a similar philosophy with the kids’ packing. They were responsible for carrying their backpacks 100% of the time – there is no way we could have done the trip if every kid brought along a huge suitcase. Ben’s vacation wardrobe was largely navy – and I was sure to pack his most favorite items so he wouldn’t complain when it was time to get dressed.

P.S. The backpack I bought myself for the trip worked great. Plenty of space in the main compartment, and just enough small pockets to keep passports/pens/credit card/etc organized and within reach. It was super durable and it still looks new after two weeks of travel. You can easily buy it on Amazon:

The North Face Women’s Recon Backpack – TNF Black – One Size

2. No Toys/Books: This might seem like a crazy idea, but our kids would get bored really fast with whatever trinkets they stowed. It just isn’t worth the space to bring a book that will be read only a few times before it is ignored. Plus, leaving familiar things behind means the kids have to improvise to keep entertained. They played a lot of charades on our trip to pass the time! And lots of running wild through the Austrian/German/Swiss/Italian mountains!

3. Rent Houses: Hotels are no fun with kids. Everyone crammed into one (or two) rooms, no decent naptime for the little ones, lights out for everyone at the same time. And they can be really expensive (especially for a large family like ours). No thanks! When we travel we always rent houses on sites like – we often get at least twice the space for half the price of a hotel. Plus, living in a house really immerses us in the local culture and forces us to find our way around a city. We love it!

4. Do Laundry: Yes, it might stink to bring this domestic duty on a vacation, but it is the only way to make packing light possible. Plus, I hate hauling around dirty, stinky clothes for days and days, and it is so nice to come home with clean clothes in the suitcases. So, I rent only houses with a washing machine.

5. Involve Kids in the Planning: This is their vacation, too, and we wanted everyone to feel like they were a part of it. For our European trip, the kids really wanted to go to Legoland Deutschland. It was their favorite part of the trip, and I was so happy to give them a day of pure kid fun.

6. Divide and Conquer: Chris and I are really good about shifting our responsibilities minute-by-minute. For example, his phone had internet access, so while he surfed for driving directions or a local restaurant, I would mind the kids. When the twins needed a nap or a break from the sun, I’d stay home with them while he took the bigger kids to jump off a dock into Lake Como. We both kept the family together in different ways, and this resulted in a pretty smooth trip. Chris is a fun dad and a great husband, and trips like this prove that parenthood has to be a team effort!

7. Go: Seriously, just go. See where the wind takes you. Be open to the unexpected that will inevitably happen. Near or far, explore a new part of the world with the humans you love most. Life is good!

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2 Comments for this entry

  1. Great philosophy, Maureen. Teamwork is everything, as a couple and as a family. Yes agree, less is more <3

    Good journey, guys 🙂

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Great post!

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