Friday, April 5, 2013

Vacationing With Kids - Preparation (Part 1 of 3)

(image from Iinspoinspo)

"I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done." - Steven Wright

   Don't we all feel like that when we travel, especially with kids? We've got grand plans, and we WILL be prepared WELL in advance. Then, we only get so far and it's a mad dash to be ready on time. Thus begins our three part series entitled "Vacationing With Kids". I recently read "Why traveling with kids SUCKS ASS" by Karen Alpert, and laughed my own hind quarters off. She had one heck of an experience, though I find myself continuing to load the suitcases for departure in 12 hours. So onto the prep work.
   Packing needs to be started earlier than the night before, plain and simple. There is a fairly complete packing list available at I didn't see much that I'd to the list as a basic start to the process. It'll vary depending on person, family, location, crisis, etc. That all being said, we're still up 'till midnight no matter the trip. With one kid it was procrastination. With three kids, it's finding the time to even get to the packing. We're lucky that we're not headed out with backpack each, consisting of toothbrush, underwear, a compass, duck tape, and floss. Hmmmm,.....interesting.
   As for the kids, prep work is in the hands of the creator. We have the power to dump it on them in one fell swoop with video cameras at the ready. We can also drop hints to keep it interesting. It's been a good carrot to dangle when behavior takes a nose dive. It's also been a great motivator for things like picking up rooms, finishing dinner, and so on. A big trip is so infrequent that they do need to earn it a bit. Or a lot.
   I read a decent 10 Tips For Making Spring Travel More Fun, at Eileen's Blog that addresses making the most of your trip for families with kids a little older than mine currently are. After reviewing a few other lists, here's my 5 tips and lessons learned in preparation for our 7 day adventure with a 7YO, 3YO and 6MO:

1.  Check your stress at the door. I tend to have high expectations that lead to stress, irritability, let down,....oh the list can get long. The last couple of bigger trips, I've tried to let that go. By having fewer expectations, I seem to have a better time. We plan a few things, but with a family as young as ours, we  try to just enjoy our surroundings and each other. It's worked nicely, and I'm not such a butt head.

2. A stitch in time saves nine. In other words, plan ahead. I'm talking everything you've slapped yourself upside the head for in the past. Packing is the big one. Then there's calling the hotel for a pack-n-play or high chair. Oh, and don't forget to keep your kids on something on a schedule leading up to the trip with dinner and bedtimes. If these things aren't thought of in advance in preparation, it just adds to the stress (see #1).

3. Take pictures, a LOT of pictures. Start early in the trip. I realized a long time ago that you can ALWAYS delete. You can never create. These days I never hear myself saying "boy, I took WAY too many pictures..." I certainly have, however, found myself saying, "Crap, I didn't take any pictures." A good time is a good time, but as we have more kids, it's inevitable that we take fewer pics. I've seen it in our family of 9 siblings/in-laws and 25 kids/cousins. So it's a conscious effort, but worth it in the end.

4. Mind the clock. I've admitted to The Wife that I'm not good a SEVERAL things. Packing for the kids is a joke. Getting the toiletries together is shameful. I don't reason well with the kids at times. Blah, blah, blah. I AM good a time. My mother drilled punctuality into the four of us brothers like we were in the Army. So I'm here to tell you that it's nice to be a little early and have time to breath as opposed to racing through the airport till you can hardly breath. Do it with kids and you'll see your relationship tested to its limits, me.

5. Remember, you're traveling with children. If you're a rookie, ask around. If you're a veteran, you should know better. Travel light, like me, who's packing for half the week and will be doing laundry. Take one book, and use the rest of the space for the kid's entertainment and snacks. Do NOT forget each child's favorite stuffed buddy, blanky, binky, bubby, or whatevertheheck. You forget, you pay. I once saw couple that made about a dozen emergency packs for the people around them on the plane that consisted of sandwich bags filled with candy, earplugs, and a note indicating that it was their first time on a plane with their child.

   I'll be posting again mid-week with Part 2 of 3. We'll check in to see how I did following my own advice for prep work. We'll also look at some tips for enjoying the trip with you children. Stay tuned for the finale. Part 3 of 3 will be a good one!


1 comment:

  1. I need a vacation just reading this. I leave the packing to the Missus and she does a great job. We have never gone anywhere with our son where there wasn't a Target nearby, so I always end up making a trip (or two...or three) there for anything we may have forgotten! #1 on your list is crucial. I'm not a go-with-the-flow person either, but a vacation with kids requires it. The part of #5 where you mention forgetting your child's favorite stuffed animal and pacifier...that can ruin a trip. Very quickly. Have a good trip!
    Justin Knight- Writing Pad Dad
    Writing Pad Dad Blog