Preparing for vacations can be so stressful! Do you ever feel like you are running around with your head cut off trying to remember if you have packed everything? I’ve found there are a few things that help us simplify the process. I honestly love vacations, but packing and unpacking can be torture. Doing these steps helps me have a much calmer packing process.
Make a packing list for the kids. I make a list of what the kids need to bring, then they go and gather it all. I write out how many of each item they will need. Like: short sleeve shirts x2, socks x3, water shoes, deodorant, toothbrush, PJs x1, etc. We try to do the laundry the day before the trip. The kids can pack as they put away their clothes. When they were little, I would go through their clothing piles and double check that they had everything on the list as I put it in the travel bags. Now they pretty much do it all, I just give them the list. Each kid has a duffle bag to put their stuff in because duffle bags are easier to squish into tight spaces. If we are hiking on the way, we leave the hiking shoes/socks by our seats. If we will be swimming on the way we pack our swimsuits in a separate bag and put it on top for easier access.
Don’t wait until the day of the trip to pack. We make a list of things we will need a week or two ahead of when we actually will leave. I usually start making a pile for the trip 3-4 days ahead. I have to get things (or write them down on the master list) as I think of them or I will usually forget them. It’s so nice when it is time to load the car, everything for the trip is in one pile. I have the kids bring everything from the pile into the garage where we Tetris-style try to fit it all into the van. This definitely takes some practice!
Everyone helps load the car. Usually about 1-2 hours before it’s time to leave we start to load the car. There is a nice pile in the living room to carry out. Everyone helps carry things starting with the heaviest items and placing them next to the car. I get to have fun strategically putting all the items into the car. The cooler and snacks go in last. I’m always amazed at how much we can get into our van!
Make a menu plan. I make a calendar of the days we will be gone and write activities we will likely do each day. Then I figure out what we will eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. You can save a lot of money by planning ahead and not having to eat out at every meal (or even having to buy condiments and things you forget). A week or two ahead I make a list of what we will eat for each meal, what to buy at the store, what to pack in the cooler, and what to put in the snack bin. This helps me remember to bring everything we will need. I cross it off as I put it in the snack bin. Here’s my post on ways to save money on your trips.
Pack a travel fun bag. It always seems best for our kids to have their own special travel bag to take in the car. We have little bags to put fun things to do on the drive. When they were little I made some car seat organizers like this. We like to fill them with a little drink, snacks, small toys in a pencil case, activity books, maze books, drawing books, coloring books, dry erase activity cards, or just a reading book from the library. They always bring their pillow and a blanket so if they get tired, they can take a nap in the car. We also like to play family trivia games together.
Keep a travel toiletries bag ready to go. We keep a first aid kit that stays in our toiletries bag. It includes allergy pills, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, steristrips, Band-aids, Triple antibiotic, tweezers, itch cream, and large Band-aids. We also have little travel bags for toothbrushes, makeup, shampoo, etc. When I see each bag, I remember what goes in it and then put it in the larger bag. We forgot our toiletries bag on one trip and had to buy the essentials, it was over $60. Now we make sure not to forget it! The kids are responsible for their deodorant and toothbrushes. They put them all on my bathroom counter. Then when I pack the toiletries bag, everything on the counter goes in the bag. It’s a great system to help me remember everything we need.
Planning ahead can save you so much stress and headaches! I have forgotten my fair share of things on trips. These little tips have helped us have more stress-free vacations!
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