PART 1 – Best Tips for Stress-Free Family Travel: Pre-trip Planning

It’s Summer!  Yay!  Warm weather, swimming, ice cream, cookouts, picnics, family vacations, and…the stress.

Stress-free family vacations need not be an oxymoron.

Families that Work Together, Enjoy More Play Together:
So much of the planning, and packing, often falls on mom’s shoulders, and as departure day arrives, she’s tired and harried.  This is doubly impactful for the career mom, who often needs to pack and plan for herself as well as the family.  By departure day, she may even be wondering if all that rushing to relax is really worth it.

To help you enjoy a stress-free family vacation, we’ve pulled some of the best travel tips for you here:

Involve the Kids: Kids love to be included in whatever is going on. Sure, it’s easier to send them out to play, or let them plop in front of TV or videogame to be out of the way.  But with a little bit of early planning, involving the kids in the process not only helps them to be a productive contributing member of the family, but also teaches them through doing.  Start now, to build a family rhythm and flow, where working together actually helps to create family cohesiveness that saves time, and brings more order, peace, and fun!

FAMILY CHECKLIST (not just for Mom and Dad):
1-month before departure – Mark your calendar and on the weekend closest to one month in advance, set aside time one evening creating a packing list for the trip.  This can be a fun time to interact about where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, and gets everyone excited and forward thinking.  In addition to packing lists for each person’s suitcase, create a checklist for carry-on or recreational bags, food, and a Home-Close checklist as well.  Place initials next to tasks to identify which family member will be responsible for what.
3-4 weeks before departure – Now you’ve got your packing lists, circle those things which you need to buy, and plan a shopping day or online time 3-4 weeks in advance.
1-week before departure – Pack everything that you can, checking it off your list as you go. Tape each packing list to its respective bag, so you can keep track of what’s left to add to it.  Kids can pull out the things they want to wear and lay them out for parents to check before packing.  Begin to plan meals from all foods on hand, as you try to clear out the fridge throughout the week, and get all the laundry done.
2-days before departure – Plan also for any trip foods that you will need or want, and plan a last grocery run for these.  Work on the Home-Close Checklist, where each person responsible works their list.
1-day before departure –- The day before departure, add any of the last-minute items to the bags.  These can go in a carry-on or slip into the top of the bags.
Trip Eve – The night before departure, line all bags up by the door, loading any that are completely ready, checklist all checked off. If this is a road trip, pack and place a box or crate with any non-refrigerated foods in the cat too, and place your refrigerated items list on the cooler, ready to load in the a.m. Make up sandwiches and snacks, and place the things for the cooler, all together in the fridge the night before. Remember to be sure to let the kids help in this as well.  Little kids can help place items into ziplocs, divvy snacks and sandwiches into bags for all, etc.  If this is a plane trip, print your tickets and place in your carry-on, purse, etc. Continue with Home-Close Checklist.
Trip Day – Pack the cooler items, then with that, saunter out of the house with your bags, stress-free, ready to go…parents and kids, excited but relaxed thanks to this bit of prior planning that lightens the departure load.  Complete Home-Close Checklist.

Kids and Packing:  Most kids have fun heading to their room with a list.  If it’s on a clipboard, they feel important and grown up. Let them pull together outfits they might wear.  Tell them how many days they’re packing for and to imagine getting up and dressed each of those mornings.  They can place their outfits together for you to check and help fold and pack if needed. Teach them how to create clothing rolls with rubber bands, for each outfit, that includes their undies, socks, etc., or, get them zipper packing cubes to help keep things organized, such as tops in one, bottoms, in another, sock and undies in yet another.

Inviting, allowing, and requiring your children to assist in the trip tasks keeps them involved in the family and the trip, while simultaneously teaching them how to plan and contribute.   If they want to go on the trip, they need to participate in the process.

Keep an eye out for next weeks newsletter, we’ll be including a packing list! 🙂