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Before I Hit The Road

Down the roadSometime in the next month, we will be leaving for our summer vacation.  I’ve been sworn to secrecy as to where and when, but, don’t fret, I’ll fill you in on some of the highlights soon afterwards!

What I can tell you is that it takes an abundance of preparation and organization to make it happen.

This is something, I must admit, that I actually enjoy doing.

What I hate?  Coming home, unpacking, and the mounds of laundry that await me afterwards!

But let me push those unpleasant thoughts aside and concentrate what is required to get the 5 of us ready for another exciting vacation…

1. Projecting

Before I pull out our suitcases, I first must slip on my thinking cap.   I always try to project ahead to the vacation location and our plans there.  What will the temperature be like?  Will we need good clothes for a special occasion? Will we need hiking shoes or beach clothes?  Will we be staying at hotels with toiletries provided or will we need to bring some of our own?

Only then am I ready for #2:

2. Lists

There are 2 lists that I create,  to-pack and to-do.  In the past, I’ve written them out by hand then tossed them out- but last year I had the foresight to type it up on my computer.  Turns out that I’m a repetitive creature and many of the items have remained the same, regardless of trip locale!

My to-pack list goes through each family member, lists the amount of clothing and what kind (pjs, jackets, undies, etc.), and then general necessities such as a camera, sunscreen, medicine, etc…  With 5 people to pack for, this list is invaluable!

My to-do list is anything and everything that needs to get done before we leave.  Hold mail and newspaper are always the #1 item.  There’s also getting cash, purchasing travel toiletries, sending last minute emails, etc., etc…

A collection of knickknacks from past travels line the windowsill in our kitchen.

A collection of knickknacks from past travels line the windowsill in our kitchen.


3. Kid’s Bags

These are essential to our kids’ happiness and saves my husband and I from schlepping all the kid’s crap ourselves!  Each person is in charge of a backpack (or purse/laptop case, for the adults) that contains all the gizmos, books, and activities required to keep them occupied.  In addition, I’ll often slip in a few little surprises (activity books and magazines) and snacks to get them through long flights or car rides.

4. CDs

A few years ago I learned how to create custom CDs, and these have also become a tradition for long car rides.  Each kid is allowed to create a playlist of 15-20 songs from our music library and/or downloaded from iTunes, then I burn them onto a disc.  It is interesting to witness their developing tastes in music and discover their favorite songs.  Often, one tune becomes the theme song for our vacation (as in the case of California Love by Dr. Dre for a trip out west a few summers ago!).

5. Food

I’ve already mentioned snacks in the backpacks.  If we are taking a long car ride, I’ll often pack a cooler of drinks (along with extras to throw in later), plenty of non-perishable snacks, and some dried cereal and bagels for breakfast- so that we don’t have to stop as often.  A special mention is gum, especially helpful on plane trips for popping ears.  Its also been used to ease fatigue for the drivers, and nausea for passengers.  We are lucky that our kids don’t get carsick very often, but one can never be too prepared!

6. Research

This goes along somewhat with projecting – learning a little about where we’ll be headed.  Back in the dark ages that would primarily be through books.  Nowadays, Google is my best friend.  Social Media (aka: asking friends) also helps, along with Yelp and TripAdvisor.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I like to keep many of these recommendations in a folder as reference for when we’re there. (along with hotel confirmations, telephone numbers, exchange rates, etc.)

quote by Hans Christian Anderson7. What Have I Missed?

I have learned that after we return from a trip, my brain is in a fog and it takes about a week to resume normal activity.  Therefore, I try to project ahead to the days after we get home and prepare as much as possible.  This year, my daughter’s birthday arrives shortly after we return, so I’ll need to start planning now to ensure that she has a party with all the fix in’s when the time comes!

If I can’t prepare beforehand, sometimes I’ll put alerts on my phone for important things I need to remember, or to shake me into action. (i.e.: bills that are due, sport’s sign-ups, etc.)

One could get tired just looking at all the prep work that goes into getting a family out of town and ask, Is it worth it?  

My answer? A resounding YES!  The more I do now, the better able I am to actually relax when we get there and disconnect for awhile.  Something we all need to do from time to time.

Are there any special rituals you do as you prepare to hit the road?  I’d love to hear about them!

Have a Fabulous Week!


4 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this list – some good tips in there for people like me who take long car trips once or twice annually with the kids. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    July 11, 2014
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    August 18, 2014

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