On Sunday we just got back from our first long weekend away with the kiddos. We drove from NY to PA and spent Thursday through Sunday relaxing and spending some time away from real life. We all had a blast especially Tyler. The trip went really well and aside from one very minor snafu, it was a nice break. The following are a few tips we have from the experience.
1. Don't Assume The Obvious
So for our trip, we planned to leave Thursday afternoon. T gets out of preschool at noon and is off on Fridays anyway so we figured he would go to school and then we'd leave after. I packed bags for me and the kids ahead of time and I went to work for a half day as well. My husband would pack the car and then when Tyler and I got home we would quickly change/grab a sandwich and head out.
When packing, I assumed we were bringing the diaper bag so I left some of our everyday things in there like the changing mat, first aid kit, sunscreen, travel spoon, etc. My husband figured we packed everything in the bags, so we wouldn't need it. We were already on the highway when we realized what happened.
Luckily, it was nothing worth going back for, but in future, it's helpful to be explicit. Even is if it seems silly or obvious, because not everyone thinks the same way.
2. Over Pack, But Don't Over Over Pack
This one we did really well. We had 3 wake ups on our trip, so we packed 4 outfits for each kid and ourselves. We brought a mix of long and short sleeves and long and short pants that could be mixed and matched.
We brought 2 bathing suits for each person plus cover ups, towels for the kids, and then all the vitamins, baby care, and personal hygiene products. For the kids we packed a few toys each and one multi-story book.
We brought a few food staples for our household: peanut butter, bread, milk, animal crackers and not much else. The thing is that while you want to be prepared, you also don't want to lug a ton of stuff around. You also don't want to spend hours packing and unpacking.
The thing about road tripping is that you have your car. While you don't want to spend a ton of money buying things you already have at home, if you really need something you can go find a store and get it.
We ended up picking up bibs and spoons for Hailey, some additional milk and a few beverages/snacks, but nothing crazy. The bibs and spoons were because of the diaper bag situation, so even that could probably been avoided. The kids were fine playing with what we had and we entertained ourselves by spending time together doing fun activities.
3. At Minimum Make a Day of List
I love lists. They help me function successfully in this life. So a packing list is obvious for me. Other people like to just plan as they pack.
Whether or not you make a list for the overall trip, I do highly recommend making a day of list. Once your bags are packed, the day you leave, there are always last minute things you will need to pack. Things like your toothbrush, phone charger, deodorant, vitamins, etc..
Make a list of these last minute things. Rushing around to get the kids ready and packing up the car, it is easy to forget these last minute things. And, since these are the things you use everyday, they are the things you would probably miss the most.
Making a list of the last things you need to pack will help lessen the stress of departure since you don't have to keep everything in your head.
4. Plan Loosely
Vacation is supposed to be relaxing. While you want to do fun things and make the most of your time away, you also don't want to over plan. You don't want to feel rushed or like you have to keep to a time schedule. That's more stressful than being home.
Instead make looser plans. You and your kids will enjoy your time far more. Come up with a few options for each day or have a few set activities but let the time frame be loose. Have ideas for things to do, but play it by ear. If the family is really enjoying time in the pool then push back the family hike.
Don't stress yourself with strict schedules. Enjoy your time away!
5. Be in the Moment
Mama, this is really the most important so I want you to really read this: Enjoy Yourself!! This is your vacation too! So put on the swimsuit, get in the pool, make sure your husband gets pictures of you with the kids even if you have to tell him to do it.
While you are still the mom and likely the one getting the kids dressed and sun screened and making sure they are having fun; it's also your job to make sure you have fun. So tell your husband to watch the kids for a bit while you take a bath in the Jacuzzi. Chase your toddler through the jungle gym climbing playground. Play sharks in the pool.
Just enjoy yourself and your kids!
I hope this helps for your next (or first) trip. We had a blast!
Are you taking a trip this summer? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. Never miss a post by signing up for my weekly newsletter here. Not only will you get notified of the latest blog posts, but you will also get discounts, freebies, and info only for subscribers!