Family vacations are wonderful, but the preparation and planning that most moms put into them is no joke. Besides the days leading up to the actual trip, the most stressful day for moms is the day your family leaves for vacation. Everyone is rushing around getting ready and throwing last minute items into the bags. The younger your children are the more stressful this can be, because they can’t pack for themselves.
So how do you take the stress out of your travel day and keep the moments before you leave the house from turning into complete chaos? These are the 10 Steps That Will Make Packing For Your Family Vacation Stress-Free
Planning Your Trip (3-18 months before traveling)
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If you can plan in advance, 6 months to a year out is the best time to plan trips. Especially if you are traveling by airplane or cruise ship. Once you have booked your trip, be sure that you have made all necessary arrangements and reservations. If you have booked an all inclusive trip this is usually easy. When you are traveling on a budget, you may book each part of the trip separately. Be sure you did not forget any part of your trip or it could really cost you. You will also need to provide for your pets while you are away. Finally, you will need to make sure everyone traveling with you has the proper travel documents and identification.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do we have a place to stay everywhere we are going?
Do we have transportation to every destination setup?
Do we need to board pets or arrange for a pet sitter?
Do we need someone to check on the house, get our mail or water plants?
Do we need to hold our paper or the mail?
Do we need to pay any bills before we leave?
Do we need to apply for passports or get updated identification?
Remember that US passports take 4-6 weeks to process. You can read more about how to apply for a passport here.
Preparing For Your Trip (2-4 weeks before traveling)
At least 2 to 4 weeks before your trip, you need to think about all the items you may need for your trip.
Here are questions to ask yourself to help you plan ahead.
Do all the clothes we need to take fit?
Do we have the right clothes?
What clothes do we need to purchase?
What documents do we need?
What accessories do we need?
What entertainment do we need?
This is when you shop or place online orders so that you have everything you need before your trip. It also gives you time to find deals on items you need.
Packing for Your Trip (1 week to the day before the trip)
Step 3-Print Packing Checklists
The first thing I do before packing our bags is to print my packing checklist and make notes. If it helps, print out a packing checklist for each member of the family or each bag. If there is anything not included in the packing checklist that you want to add, write it in the notes section. Save your checklists and use them to remember to bring all your belongings home!
Step 4-Cross Off Items You Don’t Need
I have tried to make my packing checklist complete, but there will be items on the list you just don’t need. So go through the packing checklist now and cross off any items you don’t need to bring. Once your children get to a certain age you won’t need diapers, wipes or carseats, right?
Step 5-Start Packing 24-48 Hours Before Departure
I find it is good to get in the travel mindset by setting out our luggage at least 24 hours in advance of departure. I prefer 48-72 hours to give me maximum time to start gathering belongings. Doing this also gives me the time to do laundry or pick up last minute items we need.
Step 6-Pack Clothing and Accessories First
I find it easiest to pack these items first. They are probably the items you will need the least before you travel. I avoid wearing any items I want for the trip in the days leading up to it if I can. When I begin packing clothes I follow the packing checklist. First, I pull out the exact number of each article of clothing I will need and lay them out in small piles. I then place them in my luggage. I pack my accessories around them. I always keep my jewelry separate in a travel jewelry organizer. If any of your jewelry items are valuable or sentimental, be sure to place the travel jewelry organizer in your carryon luggage.
There may be items you cannot pack right away such as sunglasses or prescription glasses. Highlight those items on your list and double check it before shutting your bags and leaving your home.
Step 7-Pack Toiletries
The list of toiletries can get quite lengthy, but if you are traveling on a cruise or out of the country, you don’t want to forget these items. You may have limited access to get the items you need or they will cost you 3-4 times as much if you buy them at your destination. These travel convenience kits are a real time saver if you don’t want to buy all of your travel toiletries separately.
If you are traveling in the United States, renting a car or staying with friends or family, forgetting toiletries is less of a worry. You also may not pack all of the personal care items on the packing checklist, but I know I usually prefer my hair dryer to the ones at my destination.
Step 8-Pack Your Carryon Bags
Your carryon luggage is your most important bag, and usually the last one to get packed. You have a much higher probability of forgetting items if you are hasty in packing it. When you are traveling with kids your carryon bags are your survival bags. You need to be sure these bags have all the essentials you need to survive a long airplane trip.
Step 9-Layout Your Clothes For Travel Day
This step is really important if you have an early morning flight. If you layout your families’ traveling clothes the night before you leave, you will have one less decision to make as you rush to get ready. This will be a huge time saver.
Step 10-Double Check Everything
There is nothing worse than realizing you forgot a really important item for a trip. This can cause you to have to double back, miss your departure and add unnecessary stress to your trip. Always double check your lists before leaving. I suggest having another member of the family go through and double check the packing checklist just to be safe.
Family travel does not need to be so stressful. Make these 10 steps part of your travel routine and your next family trip will be far more enjoyable!
Need some tips for traveling with kids? Read the following posts: