7 Steps for Surviving a Weekend Trip to Costco

The most chivalrous act any man can perform is to take his wife and three kids to Costco… on a Saturday. For richer or for poorer pales in comparison to committing to fighting off senior citizens for the last Lorna Doone at the sample table while simultaneously keeping three kids from building a fort out of bulk bundles of fleece footie pajamas and gallon cans of creamed corn.

Note: One thing to know about senior citizens is that they fight dirty. Fist fights don’t intimidate them because all their teeth are fake. They’ve also been around long enough to know that groin shots are extremely effective. Plus, they have canes and/or electric wheelchairs (I’m not sure why but those items seem intimidating to me).

On Saturday we ventured to Costco as a party of five for the first time ever. We hesitated going on a weekend, because as everybody knows, rock concert mosh pits actually originated at the Vitamix demo table at Costco… on a Saturday. We forced ourselves to make the trip because the alternative was going another 48 hours without flavored instant oatmeal. Another two days without Peaches and Cream and my kids would have called child protective services to report us. We mostly like our kids so we try to appease them every now and then. Plus, we hate prison.

After learning a few things on Saturday, it didn’t seem right that I keep those valuable tips to myself. That’s why I’ve put together a few pointers that can be used next time one of you feels delirious enough to shop at the local warehouse club on a weekend.

  1. Planning for a trip to Costco is crucial. It’s been said that “planning is 95% of problem solving,” which is exactly 18% true when it comes to taking 3 kids to a madhouse like Costco… on a Saturday. There’s a certain level of insanity and uncertainty that just can’t be measured.
  2. It requires at least two shopping carts when three kids are involved. If the kids are team players, two of them will gladly sit in the basket of one cart and allow that groceries be piled right on top of them. The remainder of the groceries can be tossed into the other cart. My idea of allowing two of the boys to ride on the bottom rack of the cart and hanging the third child off the front of the cart in a baby carrier like a hood ornament was vetoed. It still seems like the most efficient way to me.
  3. One should be ready to face the reality that they may not finish all of the grocery shopping before the store closes. Being mentally prepared for an overnight stay will help in every situation that takes longer than expected. Because every situation will take longer than expected.
  4. Note: Did you know that when you have three kids they actually call it Eight Hour Photo instead of One Hour Photo? Interesting tidbit there.

  5. It’s also imperative to pack at least two changes of clothes per child. One will undoubtedly forget that they’re potty trained. One isn’t potty trained. And the last one will remember he has to go to the bathroom when he’s four miles away from the restrooms in the produce walk-in, or the second the cashier rings up the first item at the register.
  6. Protip: If you are stuck in the produce refrigerator and your kid has to pee, you’re only a few quick steps from the pet supplies. Crack open a bag of kitty litter and no one will be the wiser. If your child gets caught in the act, just throw your hands in the air and in your best Billy Mays voice yell: “If it’s that powerful for a human, just think of what it can do for your cat!” Then, slowly walk away without making eye contact with anyone.

  7. It’s important to never forget the membership card. I’ve seen Customs Officers who were more lenient than Costco cashiers.
  8. It’s impossible to be too prepared for paying at the cash register. I personally try to play on the safe side and carry cash, my Amex, a Western Union easy wire card, a tube sock full of nickels, and each of my son’s social security numbers just in case we need to take out a line of credit on the spot. Trust me, it can happen. As far as I know Costco doesn’t actually put price tags on anything in the store. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where someone can spend $6,000 and still have an empty refrigerator when they get home.
  9. Unloading groceries needs to be finished quickly. Remember, the kids are still under there! A large vehicle such as a mini-van or a baby Sherman tank will likely be required to carry all of the newly purchased goods. A Smart Car may be sexy at the gas pump, but it’s a real embarrassment when toilet paper comes in 144 roll packs. Nothing says “I’m a first time clubhouse shopper” like forty rolls of two-ply sticking out the sunroof.

Hopefully this quick wrap-up is helpful to all of you brave souls out there. For the most part our weekend trip to Costco was pretty uneventful. We followed nearly all of the pointers listed above and ended up not only surviving, but almost enjoying our family trip to Costco… on a Saturday.


  1. says

    Thank you Ryan but even with your advice I am still terrified of that place. Yes, I am a proud club card holder but somehow manage to avoid this place like a plague. Maybe it is because I do not eat instant oatmeal or Peaches and Cream. But next time I go I am bringing my hiking poles to fight off senior citizens.

  2. says

    You are a brave, brave man taking 3 kids to Costco on a Saturday. I avoid it at all costs on the weekend and I don’t have kids to take with me.

  3. says

    Costco is an addicting drug to many! ;-) Just 2 of us in our house soooooo we only buy a few things that work for 2 adults. I want a 10 item or less lane!!!!!!!

    This cracked me up Ryan cause Costco is craziness here & especially on last day of coupons day! WE have a ton around us & they still are all crazy. For ours, it is more family type people that are our nemesis as they go & stand in lines to eat every little thing offered & you can’t get anywhere with your cart! ;-) I get it though cause my middle stepdaughter used to take the kids to eat there from the samples! Tough times bring out tough behavior! ;-)

  4. nightrunner says

    Sr. Citizen here with (1) ALL my teeth -pretty and white
    (2) No Costco card
    (3) Don’t buy in BULK

    • ryan says

      1) Congrats on the chompers!
      2) Too bad. Costco is pretty awesome.
      3) LUCKY!! Buying in bulk is a pretty good way to buy certain things for my family of five. Ends up being more economical in the long run!

  5. says

    My husband won’t even do Costco, so we joined BJs. I don’t think the prices are as good but they do have Chobani and Gatorade, and that’s what we live on.

  6. Terry says

    Ryan – you are a born writer!!!!!!! Start a book and make some $!!!!! You have the gift – remember you need to grow your gifts.

    Aunt Terry

  7. Charles Pascalar says

    Thanks for using my quote: planning is 95% of problem solving”. You are the first to use it…THANK YOU!

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