There’s a painfully hilarious blog post from a couple years back entitled, “With Little Kids, You Take Trips, Not Vacations.” After just getting back from the beach with our 14-year-old, our 16-month-old, three dogs, and a slew of other family members, I would have to agree! While in theory I love nothing more than having all day to be with my family, there wasn’t a lot of sleeping in and reading magazines in the sand.
The biggest task for us, however, wasn’t fishing our toddler out of the ocean or convincing our teenager to hang out on the beach with us instead of his iPhone…it was the packing. Seriously, it takes a lot of stuff, a lot of planning, and a lot of room in the car to live somewhere else for a week! For those of you lucky enough to still have a few vacation (or “trip”) days ahead of you this summer, I wanted to share some of the things we did to make packing a little easier.
- Don’t reinvent your packing lists: I keep our packing lists in spreadsheets we can reuse every year. We have one for the beach, one for snowboarding, one for quick overnights, etc. Instead of having to rethink what we need to take every trip, it’s already there for me and I can just add and subtract from it for the specific needs of this year’s trip.
- Start packing three days ahead of time: The last thing I want to do is start my vacation feeling rushed and stressed as I try and pull everything together at the last minute. To avoid this, I print out our packing list a few days ahead of time and start setting aside things we are bringing that I won’t need to use before we leave. Anything that we can’t pack until the last minute I highlight or star so I can quickly pack those items on our day of departure.
- Do a last minute walk-through: Once everything is in the car (and the turtle, in our case), do one more quick walk-through to ensure you didn’t accidentally leave your toiletries in the bathroom or someone’s favorite bunny in the crib. This will also give you a chance to make sure you’ve taken care of the house, e.g., emptied all your trashcans, turned up your AC, watered the plants, etc.
- You will forget something: You will probably forget something. Get over it; you’re on vacation. If you can’t get creative and find another solution, or buy it at the local beach shop, then this is why God gave us Amazon Prime.
- Update your list: Either bring your printed packing list with you or use an app, if you’re super-fancy and add the things you forgot or realized would be nice to have next year. When you get home, update your spreadsheet for next time while the needs are still fresh in your mind. And don’t be afraid to delete the stuff you brought and really didn’t need.
Happy Vacationing…or, um, Tripping… wait, that’s not right?! 😉