We all know that family vacations aren’t really vacations for moms, at least when you have really young children. I read an article once that said you are really just transferring your mom duties to another location, which actually can be more stressful since you aren’t in your normal environment! I have learned a few tips and tricks for vacationing (a bit more) seamlessly and I am excited to share some with y’all today.
1. Pack Light.
Over the years, and with more children added to the mix, I’ve learned packing less means less headaches. My girls will wear the same outfit at least two maybe three times on vacation and I will do laundry as needed. See yesterday’s post on exactly what I packed for my children.
For car travel, I have found that good ole Vera Bradley duffel bags are the best. Each girl has one bag and that’s for their clothes AND toys. And they are easy to smuch in the car rather than big, bulky suitcases. If there’s not enough drawers, I will often leave their clothes in their duffles during the trip. They know exactly where to find things and where to put them away.
2. Lay out all clothes, shoes, and accessories on the floor prior to packing.
This helps with coordinating tops and bottoms and matching siblings, too. And to ease pre-vacation stress, don’t wait until the night before to pack. That does not a pleasant mom make!
(See yesterday’s post for everything we packed for our recent vacation!)
3. Pack using Ziploc bags or packing cubes.
One for undergarments. One for nightgowns (two per child). I will pack individual outfits in 1-gallon ziplocs or all shorts in a 2 gallon ziploc and shirts in another. Label them if desired. These packing cubes are great for adults.You can get affordable packing cubes on Amazon.
4. Have a go bag with essentials.
For travel days and when you are on vacation, have a mini Mary Poppins bag with essentials handy: sunscreen, bandaids, a little cash, wipes, lip balm, crackers, diapers if needed. Transfer from car to purse to beach. These SCOUT bags are perfect for that.
5. Once you arrive, take the time to get organized and put stuff away.
Getting the vacation started on the right (orderly) foot can make such a difference in the week. Take an hour to get organized and put clothes and bags away. Expect children to keep their room/bathroom/belongings tidy just as they do at home. (Just be sure to tell them where to put dirty laundry, wet swimsuits and hang wet towels; otherwise they might end up on the floor!)
6. Lay out clothes and supplies out the night before.
It’s not fun to scour the hotel room/rental house for sunscreen, goggles, and the random shoe that keeps getting lost (and it delays the fun!). Cut out stress by laying everything out the night before.
7. Wake up earlier than everyone else.
I know, I know. It’s not fun to wake up early on vacation. But I remember my mom getting up before everyone else on vacation and now I see why. Getting ahead of the “to dos” (the laundry or dishes if you’re staying a house or condo) can make such a difference in getting the day started – and in your mood! And just having a few minutes to yourself before the craziness commences can be good for the soul. Enjoy a cup of coffee on the balcony to start the day off right. I like having time to get myself ready so I am not rushed after I get all the children squared away. (I recommend this at home, too!).
8. Buy disposable when you can.
Just this week I’d say give yourself a break from dishes and buy disposable cups and plates when possible. Styrofoam cups at vacation are make fabulous hostess gifts! Disposable baby bibs and changing pads make for less laundry. I will say I didn’t buy disposable swim diapers this trip and liked the reusable kind! I only bought one diaper, though, but two would have been better.
9. Separate dirty laundry into trash bags or laundry bags and repack in suitcase before heading home.
My sister likes to do all her family’s laundry before heading home for easy unpacking. I like to separate dirty darks and lights into trash or bags or packable duffle so at laundry is seamless when I get home. I have one for darks and one for lights.
Update: I forgot to mention I buy Oxyclean spray when I arrive on our vacation. It is an essential especially if I can’t wash something right away. Spray and leave until I can or until we get home. Also, add a touch of blue Dawn soap on the stain for an even better stain fighting product!
10. Give children down time.
Stay on young children’s schedules if possible. But don’t be too much of a stickler. It’s vacation after all and vacation is all about making memories.
One last tip: don’t be afraid to enlist quiet time (iPad/tv) even with your older children, especially if crankiness is an issue. A little down time is good on vacation and it does the whole family a world of good!
11. And a few tips about traveling with babies/toddlers:
Pool noodles make impromptu bed rails for toddlers (put under the fitted sheet), sometimes it’s worth it to put the pack n play in the closet or bathroom, keep baby on his/her schedule if possible for less fussiness, and see notes about disposable stuff (worth it!). Also, most vacation destinations have rental companies if you don’t want to haul stuff, although we prefer to bring our own. And we’ve never regretted traveling with our Bob stroller, but always said when we got there how glad we are that we did!
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