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Travel tips from a Mom of five - survival advice for a family vacation

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Make that checklist - prepare and enjoy time with your little ones

I recently had lunch with a friend who I last saw before our trip to Ireland. She wanted to know how it was. She really wanted to know how it was… not just the glorious green scenery and fabulous family time but the nitty gritty of how we managed to fly overseas and spend ten days in a hotel with five children, all aged six and under. And so I told her. It was HARD!

It was much harder and much more expensive than we anticipated. The logistics of navigating a city – not just Dublin, but any city – with two strollers and five jet-legged kids (not to mention two exhausted parents with short tempers!) was hard.

She asked me how Liam, our six-year old, held up while the other four were pushed in strollers. She assumed we had brought two double strollers with us which, if I had to do it all over again, I would. But, we didn’t. We had a double and a single stroller, which enabled our trio of two-year olds to ride like kings and left our four and six year old whining, moaning and groaning in our wake.

In sharing our adventures with my friend, I suddenly recalled a dark moment my mind must have blocked out: the image of our four year old melting into the worst sort of “MY LEGS WON’T GO, I’M TOO TIRED” tantrum as the doors of Dublin looked down on us and the rains of Ireland fell upon us.

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We were at least a mile away from our hotel with no cab in sight and darkness moving in – in every sense of the word.

The solution required our typical all hands on deck approach - I pushed the double stroller, we put our overtired six year old in charge of the single stroller and my husband put our tired and tormented daughter on his shoulders as the rain poured down and the triplets cried “Rain on me! Wanna go home NOW!”

It was ugly. It was about as far from a Kodak moment as you could possibly get. That said, we did have plenty of true Kodak moments that I will forever cherish and I learned a few things for the next time... if there is a next time!

1. Rent an apartment:

Don’t stay in a hotel. Aside from the cramped quarters, the downside of the hotel was, well, breakfast, lunch and dinner – all of which had to be consumed in a restaurant or the hotel lobby. Neither is a great option with a jet-lagged clan of tots and, it gets very pricey very quickly.

While the upside of a hotel is someone who makes your bed in the morning, there’s another significant downside: no washer and no dryer. Let’s just say that with a trio of potty-training tots, one really needs to be able to do laundry! So, the next time, the Lyons Den will be staying in a short –term rental with kitchen and laundry included.

2. Kids under five needs strollers

Heck, kids over five might even need strollers if your sight-seeing plans are as aggressive as ours.

We literally covered miles each day. My legs were tired. In retrospect, it’s really no surprise that our four and six-year-old were exhausted and miserable… and really, when one thinks of a vacation, “exhausted and miserable” shouldn’t be the descriptors. Poor kids. Next time, strollers all around!


3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

We tend to cram a lot in a day. Sometimes it’s a fact of life with five kids. Sometimes it’s just plain foolish.

We were looking at pictures from our trip the other night and as we reminisced about the National History Museum, double decker bus tour and Guinness factory, we realized we had done it ALL in ONE day!

Now that is just plain crazy with five small tots in tow! No wonder they were exhausted and miserable… not mention, wet – from both the rain and the potty-training setbacks! I think “less is more” will be my approach for our next family adventure, wherever that may be.

In the meantime, I'm working on an album with hundreds of smiling Kodak moments that will forever be a reminder of our trip... it may not have been a typical vacation but it was still a pretty stellar trip!

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READ MORE:
More stories on taking a vacation in Ireland


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