Get Set... (Traveling Tips Part 2)

Yesterday, we talked about planning our vacations. After I finished writing and posting, I realized that whether you are planning a two-week trip or a two-hour one in your neighborhood, those principles still apply. Whether we go to the zoo or Disneyland or Hawaii, we work hard to make it a trip that fits our budget, allows us to rest and enjoy one another, and takes into consideration the varied interests of each member of the family. Just wanted to say that, as I know that not everyone will be going to far-flung destinations this year. And yet, thoughtful planning will take you far. Okie dokie, on to today's topic: getting ready. Now I don't know about you, but there have been trips where you'll find me staying up late into the wee mornings folding clothes, cramming in sippy cups, and frantically looking for that bag of treats that I bought just for this trip. I don't recommend that. Not until we pull out of the driveway do I really start settling down, hoping that I got everything we needed. Inevitably we forget something---usually very basic.

However, I know it doesn't have to be this way. There is a secret:  planning ahead. What a novel idea! On rare occasions, I have done this and it has made a world of difference. These are some of the things I have done that has helped, along with some notes. (Here's my full vacation checklist! Feel free to add to it as needed.)

Two Weeks Before (partial list):

  • Figure out how many meals I will need to prepare, make a shopping and equipment (e.g. crockpot, can opener, etc.) list. Need a few ideas? Check out Life With Mom's suggestions for preparing freezer meals. You can either use her's or adapt it to your own family's favorites. Include a quick meal idea for when you get back home at the end of your trip, if you think you'll need it.
  • If you're flying, familiarize yourself with the TSA's rules about what you can and cannot take on board. They also have information on traveling with children that can help you prepare your child for all those scanners and stuff. Also check on luggage limitations you may have and whether or not you are required to pay.
  • If you're driving, figure out a time to take your car in for a thorough check. Or even if you're not going long distance, you may want to do a few routine checks yourself.
  • If you're a nerd like me, check out any books involving your destination from the library. I usually place holds on them using inter-library loan and then pick them up at my local library right before we leave. Just make sure you don't lose any! (Been there, done that.)
  • Start making your packing list. Here's a generic one you can tweak or use as a starter for your personal list. I run through our regular day and think of all the things that we use, especially for the little ones.  

During the Week Before (partial list):

  • Prepare meals if needed. These can be made earlier in the week and frozen (and they can serve as ice packs too!).
  • Plan activities for the kids for the road. (More on this tomorrow...running out of space today!)
  • Put together "emergency kits" for the road for carsickness, first aid, spontaneous picnics, diaper changing supplies or collapsible toilet seat .
  • Do a load of laundry if needed. We don't have a lot of clothes, so I wash ours the day before we go, fold and then pack directly. Don't forget to save a set to wear when you set out on your trip!
  • Pack clothing as you would need them. I like to put them in sets so the kids don't have to rummage through the whole bag finding a sock. Instead of everyone having their own bag, we put everything together, especially if our trip requires more than a day of travel. For example, we'd put all our toiletry bags in one bag and all the clothes needed for our first stop in an overnight bag. The rest of the clothes can go in a bigger suitcase. That way, when we pull in to our first stop, all we do is bring in our toiletries and overnight bag. The bigger suitcase can stay in the car or it can be brought in but you won't need to open it. The easier the better!
  • Start a list of things you'll need to do when you get home. It usually takes me awhile to get back in the groove, so if I don't want to forget, I post it on the fridge so I know what needs to be done.

Right Before You Leave (partial list) :

  • Chill drinks or water the night before.
  • Pack perishable food and drinks in a cooler for the road. Put any lunch items on the top or in a separate smaller cooler.  Consider cheese sticks, veggie sticks, or hard boiled eggs, along with crackers, sandwiches, packaged snack items.
  • Make final home checks: tightly wrap packages, clean up crumbs, wipe down surfaces, leave your dishwasher open a crack. Don't leave produce on your counter, unless you like fruit flies.

Tomorrow: Ideas to make your travel time more pleasant! Stay tuned!

What do you do to prepare for your trips?