How to NOT travel like the Griswolds (and other family vacation tips)

This past weekend we took a quick family vacation to St. Louis for my nephews birthday.  That means loading up the car and dragging my nine month old and five year old daughters along for what should be a 5 1/2 hour car ride, but inevitably turns into 6 1/2 hour car ride.

Leaving for the weekend also means packing for the weekend, which means we have to load up all. the. things. So here are our favorite tips for packing up for a trip.

  • Charge all the things the night before! There’s nothing like getting in the car, and you are on your last leg and you hand back the iPad for sweet relief and – whoops! – we forgot to plug it in. So now we have not only a fussy kid, but a fussy kid that was expecting to be able to watch Daniel Tiger and now can’t watch anything! Do yourself a favor, and check that nonsense the night before.
  • Two words – BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES.  Headphones are a necessity when traveling with kiddos.  You need to be able to tone down the sing along tunes for your own sanity.  Double down the favor to yourself and splurge for the bluetooth headphones.  No cords getting tangled up in kids or on itself.  And most kids headphones come with an automatic cap on volume so it won’t damage your little’s ears – double bonus.
My mini-me has endured many a long car ride, but never without her Pooh Bear.
  • Consolidate into one bag.  I get it. Little kids suitcases are super cute.  Everything in little kid form is cute.  But do you know what’s not cute? Your little one having a meltdown in a hotel lobby because they don’t want to carry their suitcase AND you are trying to juggle your bags and two tiny suitcases.  Just. Don’t. Save yourself the headache and just pack all that into your bag to begin with.  All the toiletries in one hanging bag. All the clothes in one suitcase. When  they are little they don’t take up much room anyway. Want to know what your kids can carry? Small toys, a book, their tablet and headphones in a small backpack.  And I always slide in a small carabiner in an outside zipper so that if they DO get fussy carrying that, I can just latch it onto our suitcase.
  • Plan out the trip. I’ve heard it all – you don’t like to plan. You like to be spontaneous. You like to live in the moment.  Yeah yeah yeah.  Except here’s the thing. There’s nothing worse than waking up to hungry kids on vacation and you have no plan for breakfast. And then when you finally do make a plan you arrive at the restaurant to  a packed house and a 45 minute wait.  And you did NOT travel all this way on vacation to go through a McDonalds drive thru for breakfast. The great thing about a plan – it can be changed! Unless you have reservations or timed entry into events you can always be flexible. And if you do have reservations or timed entry it’s because you NEED to and when the time comes you’ll be happy you have them. Plus planning out your days helps to plan out your expectations. This helps with packing and preparing your family for what to look forward to on vacation.
  • Pack all the toys into one back and (this is the important part) hand it back one. at. a. time.  Minimize on your stress load and theirs. Hand back toys one at a time. And when they are done, collect the toy they were just playing with and hand them another.  It minimizes mess (win for you) and overwhelm on little people for having too many options (win for them). Finally,
  • Don’t forget to pack xyz.…….It’s hard to remember to pack all. the. things. That’s why we created this totally free packing list for you to use for your next family vacation.

What about you? What do you do to prepare for your family vacation? Do you have any travel tips? Are you flying with your kids? That’s a whole other beast. Tune into our next blog post for tips specific to flying with your kiddos!

One comment

  1. Pingback: Flying With Kids – Serendipitous Traveler

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