When we go on trips, is it really enjoyable for the parents or our kids? Here are some ways we can ensure we’ll have a good time by prepping in advance.
Sometimes I forget about the work that’s involved when my husband comes up with the “genius” idea to take a vacation… with the children! Honestly, the thought of “taking a vacation” exhausts me because all I can think about is what has to be done in order to finally end up on the beach. Who’s really going to have all of the fun? The KIDS! Without a glitch, I immediately begin to search for fun destinations, most of which always involve a beach, and begin searching for the best deals for flights and hotels. Once the location is secured and the date approaches, that’s when reality sets in. You see, before we set out on this adventure, I have to make sure all business and home related work is done that would usually be completed during the duration of the trip. I have come up with ways to prepare for these vacations and trips in advance in order to ensure I will also enjoy my time! Put your cape on and get the work done BEFORE you step foot outside the door. Here’s the countdown for vacation by day.
Day 1-Work and Home Prep
This means, current assignments plus the tasks while we’re away for those few days, have to be completed prior to leaving. I make sure all laundry is done, since I know we’ll return with suitcases full of sand and soiled clothing. All bills are paid and any scheduled maintenance will be rescheduled for our return.
Next, the packing! That’s an adventure in itself. I start by packing the kids. Traveling with 3 little people can fill up a suitcase really fast. I have to pack enough clothes for the climate while always making sure I have extras in the event the trip must be extended due to bad weather or some other unforeseen reason. I’ve learned enough over the years to start packing days in advance, rather than the night before. It makes no sense to stay up all night, knowing you have an early flight with 3 kids in tow, who will be extra cranky, yet excited. There are so many emotions on the day of and the goal is to make it to the airport on time. We don’t need cranky, tired parents, plus cranky, tired, excited, anxious little kids. Trust me! It’s not a great combination. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to pack for yourself! We always save us for last but it becomes a burden when we stare blankly into our closet as if some outfit will magically appear. As soon as you book the flight, start thinking about outfits for you and the whole family. Think about how many nights for pajamas, how many days at the beach, plus an outfit or two for a day of touring and family lunch or dinner. Hotel pricing is always extremely high for basic necessities like sunscreen and toiletries, therefore packing these items will avoid spending additional money unnecessarily.
Next, hair! If I really want to enjoy this trip, I need to make sure there is the least possible amount of hair maintenance while we’re gone. The fellas are easy! Schedule the haircut a few days prior and they’re good to go! I have to set aside a packing day and then a hair day since I have a daughter with a head full of thick, beautiful hair that she loves to get sand in while at the beach. I also need an easy hairstyle for myself, because the faster I can get dressed while on vacation, the faster we’ll make it out of the room and get our feet in the sand. If all else fails, pack a cute hat or two!
Day 4-Airport Prep
The night before is when I double check all of the suitcases. There are certain items that must be packed the day of, so I make a checklist of those items and check them off the next morning as I add them to the suitcase. Sometimes it’s even easier to have a travel set of toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shower caps, etc.so that you can already have those items in your bag.My goal is to not have to make any store trips while I’m trying to enjoy my time in the sun. I have all of the bags near the door and I then begin to pack my carry-on bag, also known as the snack bag. This is the bag that contains all of the essential airplane snacks and activities! I love to have fresh fruit for my kids for the airplane, especially since flying is very dehydrating. As they snack on their fruits, they’re also getting the natural juices they need to replenish, along with a cup of water. A change of clothes is mandatory in this bag in the event your children have an accident or if there’s a major spill. Finally, I make sure everyone’s clothes for the day of travel are laid out, breakfast for the next day is prepped and the car is loaded with car seats, etc. in the event we are driving ourselves to the airport. Always plan for the unexpected. Here’s my airport bag essentials checklist:
- Snacks and Kid Cups for water
- Spare change of clothes
- iPad & headphones (with at least 1 movie downloaded), coloring books and crayons, small toys like baby doll, cars, airplanes for each child
- A surprise toy or treat for good airplane behavior
- Passports and IDs(Take photos of each in the case you lose your wallet while on your trip)
- Printed boarding passes, hotel confirmations
- Hand sanitizer and spray
- Cash and debit/credit cards
- Travel size blanket (for the one kid who loves to nap on the plane)
Day 5-Day of Travel
It’s the big day and hopefully we all slept well the night before because this is the longest day you’ll experience before you can finally exhale on the beach or wherever your final destination is. This is the day that you will not only wake up super early (depending on where you’re traveling), pack all the children and suitcases into the car, rush through security and be sure not to leave a kid behind, pray that your kids get all of their energy out while they’re on the plane, land safely, go through immigration while your kids ask repeatedly, “What’s taking so long? When will we get to the hotel? I’m hungry!,” retrieve your bags and hope none were lost, hop in a taxi or car service, check into the hotel and finally take a deep breath as you receive your room key! But your vacation, still, has not begun! Now you need to feed yourself and your kiddos, change clothes, unpack the suitcases and survive the first night of “their” vacation.Let’s be real, our children have been up since the wee hours of the morning and are now a complete combination of tired and excitement all jumbled into one. The first day is always the roughest because their entire routine has changed. They’re truly grateful for all of your hard work, but you just can’t see it yet! When they finally get that good night sleep, the next day is when the fun and relaxation (hopefully) truly begins.
Now it’s all worth it! It takes a lot of preparation on our parts to get to this point and yes they will continue to interrupt any moments of peace, but they are only this dependent for a short period of time. Soak it all in and enjoy watching them play in the sand and swim in the water. As much as I would love to take a vacation with just my husband and I, I can’t imagine not sharing these journeys with my children. When they get a little older, maybe I’ll feel more comfortable ditching them! In the meantime, enjoy those big smiles on their faces. These are the stories they’ll share well into adulthood and then they’ll get their payback when they have kids one day! Don’t even get me started on the what happens when we return home. The work never ends! I need a vacation from my vacation just typing this article!