This week I'm blogging from Germany. I'm here for work but it has prompted me to do a week of travel blogging. I love to travel. I love vacations with my family. I love road trips. I just think the memories you make when traveling with your kids are the ones they will remember for the rest of their lives. In fact, I can safely say that my very favorite way to spend money is on travel. Lucky for me, my husband agrees. When I see someone rolling down the street in a $60,000 SUV I think "Wow! That would finance a lot of sweet vacations." Hence the fact that I'm still rolling down the street in my 10 year old Honda Oddessey with 165,000 miles on it (but no car payments which means more $$$$ for travel!)
Today's tip is about packing. LET YOUR KIDS PACK THEMSELVES! Yes, you may think I'm crazy but it will really save you time and give them ownership of the vacation! Okay, so I don't let them pack from scratch. And depending on their age you may want to double check their packing to make sure extra things didn't find their way in. So here's how it goes in my house.
A few years ago I made up a generic packing list for each of my girls. I list out everything they need like X pairs of socks, X pairs of pjs, X pairs of undies (fill in the X with the appropriate # for that trip.) The list evolves from time to time. My 14 year old now has "make up" on her list instead of sippy cups :-( There are things that come and go depending on the destination such as sunscreen and bug spray. But the list for the most part varies little from trip to trip and I have it saved in an Excel spreadsheet so with each new trip I can make updates, additions, deletions and then print it out for each kid.
A few days before the trip look up the forecast for the destination and make a chart showing each day you will be gone and what is planned for that day, include the forecast. For example -- Sunday, Drive to Lake, Sunny & 89. Then they can plan for each day what outfits they want to bring. Sometimes if we are just going to the beach and have no plans but to lay on the beach I'll put the number of outfits on the packing list and not give them a chart for outfit planning. Just add "3 short outfits" to the list.
Once they have their outfits planned out, tell them to make sure everything they want to pack is clean or get it in the laundry NOW. Have them start a pile in a corner of their room or a laundry basket. As clean clothes come out they can put the ones they need in their pile.
The night before you leave have them transfer all of the items from the pile to their suitcase, checking them off the list or outfit planner as the items go in. Some things will have to wait until right before you walk out the door like that favorite blanket or toothbrush. At this point have them highlight everything that is NOT in the suitcase so you can remember to grab those as you get ready to leave. If your kids are younger you can do this step of packing and checking off with them.
Viola! The kids are packed and you didn't have to do all the work. Now if you can only train your husband to do the same.........