In June, we made a 12-hour drive north to Down East Maine for a family trip with six kids under the age of 5. And I lived to tell about it.
You might be wondering if we’re crazy to plan such a trip. The answer is yes, we are crazy. But it really wasn’t so bad. In fact, I’d love to do it again. Because I’ve discovered the key to enjoying a getaway with children – keeping my expectations realistic. We went into our trip to Maine knowing it wasn’t going to be a relaxing vacation. We knew it was going to be exhausting. We knew it would be difficult at times. We knew there would be blowouts and tantrums and inconvenient potty breaks. Yet, it was still magical, an adventure that was worth all the effort and more.
With the experience still fresh in my mind, I can’t imagine a more perfect place to visit for our family. Coastal Maine is breathtaking. Seriously, guys, the views brought tears to my eyes and nothing makes me cry except for animals dying in Disney movies and finding a pair of dirty underwear after I just finished the laundry.
Traveling isn’t really our thing. We have three small children. We don’t like leaving our dog. We can’t afford to splurge on fancy luxury vacays to the tropics. I like to sleep in my own bed. But I’m so so glad we decided to go to Maine. And I feel beyond grateful that we were able to make the trip. I know there are so many families that can’t.
So what inspired us to plan a family getaway to Maine? Well, way back in the dark days of December, I was in the midst of a post-election depression. In particular, concerns for our environment being in jeopardy weighed heavily on me (still do). I happened to read an article that suggested ideas for fighting climate change as individuals. The list included visiting our National Parks to see the natural wonders that may not be around one day. This seed of thought planted in my mind and grew into travel plans for a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. I figured we should be adventurous and get out there to see the world, just in case the apocalypse is coming. Coastal Maine seemed like an ideal choice – it was within driving distance, we’d been there before, and it fit our budget. Plus we’re water lovers, so anything by the sea is an automatic HECK YAAAS.
I found an affordable and adorable home in a teeny tiny coastal town, Winter Harbor, on Airbnb. We invited my sisters’ families and my parents (the more the merrier, right?). We packed a ridiculous amount of crap, fed our kids some Dramamine, and made the journey to the quiet, serene seaside of Maine with our loud and incredibly energetic tribe of tots.
Being the planner that I am, I drafted a schedule of activities for each day prior to our trip. Amazingly, we pretty much did everything we wanted to do. We marveled at the spectacular views along the Schoodic Peninsula. The children threw countless rocks in the brilliant blue water. They played on Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, and searched for creatures in the tidal pools. We hiked along Ocean Trail, and were awestruck by the power of the sea at Thunder Hole. We bought lobsters at the local harbor co-op and prepared and feasted on them in the beautiful backyard of our rental home. Richard nearly killed himself fetching sea water to steam the lobsters (we wanted to cook them as authentically as possible). We took a ferry to Bar Harbor, where we devoured delicious ice cream (I highly recommend the Whoopie Pie flavor!). We laughed and ate Doritos. We shopped at the local quaint 5&10 store. We drove around and gaped at the oceanfront mansions. The kids explored a touch tank with park rangers. We listened to “Blueberries for Sal” at story time at the town library. We pumped our own gas (a big deal for us Jersey folk). We saw stunning sunrises and sunsets from sea level to the top of Cadillac Mountain. We fell in love with Maine.
We also took about 4,782 photos. Here are a few of my favorites (and by a few, I mean 100).
Of course, the kids conveniently had to pee whenever we were nowhere near a potty. Some things don’t change, whether you’re in New Jersey or Maine. 😉 Kids will be kids.