I need a spring break. I know, we’re only six weeks into winter, and I don’t care what the groundhogs are saying, I NEED A BREAK.
We’ve had double the amount of snow this year, polar vortexes have attacked my spirit, and I found an incredible deal that I just couldn’t say no to.
So we’re off to Mexico with the kids next week. It will be seven days of digging in white stuff that I don’t mind shoveling, for our first family escape in three years.
Now comes the hard part. I usually like to think about vacations for months in advance and roll through things in my head as we plan. This one literally came together a few days ago and we leave in a few days. There is no time to think, only time to do, so I needed to follow some basic family packing tips to get everything done quickly, easily, and efficiently:
1. BUY IT AND LEAVE IT
Don’t pack sand shovels and buckets. We’ll buy them at the gift shop (or the mall across the street from the resort) and then pay them forward to another family. Consider the $10-$20 a rental fee, and far less stress than trying to find a way to get all the sand out of your suitcase when you get home.
2. PACK LIGHT
There are surcharges for overweight bags. Think about how often you’ll be wearing just your bathing suit all day, and then go from there.
3. NESTING SUITCASES
If you’re a shopper, pack a smaller suitcase and put it inside your bigger suitcase. this will give you room to bring home trinkets.
4. ONLY TWO SUITCASES
We do one for kids stuff, one for parents stuff. That’s it. Remember, you only have two hands, so if you’re bogged down with bags it will be tougher to keep track of your crew through the airport.
Each of our sons has their own “rescue pack.” We don’t go with the kid-sized rolling suitcase because, at 4 and 6 years old, they can’t always keep up. If you have them dragging a suitcase, you might need to drag it. Rescue packs are always easy in airports and great at the destination. Snacks, water bottles, iPads, and their travel buddies easily fit inside the bag and then they can look after their own entertainment for the flight.
6. BYO CAR SEAT
When we went to France when our son was 10 months old, we brought our own car seat. Yes, it is a hassle, but it is cost-effective and once it’s in your rental car, you don’t have to lug it around anymore. Rental seats are often dirty, and difficult to install. You already know how yours works, so bring it if you’re driving. If you just plan on taking public transportation and shuttles, leave it at home.
7. PACK THE PEANUT BUTTER
My wife always packs peanut butter when we travel. She’s a little picky about her food, but knows that peanut butter and bread is enough to get by through a tough stretch. She packs the PB; the bread is easily found on the road. If you’ve got picky kids, this could save your day. If we’re going to a self-cater resort where we have a suite, we bring along as many dried goods as we can to cut down on groceries/eating out and then buy the fresh products at the destination.
8. PLASTIC BAGS
We’re going to the beach. Sand will be everywhere. We pack along zip lock bags to pack up the sandals, flip flops, wet shorts, and what have you on the final day. This keeps all the wet and dirty stuff away from the clean stuff, and keeps the sand out of your suitcase. I also use this tip when I travel alone to store my stinky running gear until I can get it washed.
9. ESSENTIALS ALWAYS WITH YOU
Think about the absolutely most important thing you’re packing, and keep it with you. Is it a change of clothes? Shoes? Toiletries? I always make sure I’ve got a backup in the carry-on in case the big bags don’t make the connections.
10. POWER STRIP
I have a laptop, my wife has an iPad, the kids have iPads, and I use my iPhone as a camera most of the time. So a power strip is important to keep everyone juiced up on the go. I bring along a portable charger when I’m traveling so I can recharge right in my backpack. You might also want to pack along the cord and plug in a daypack so you can try and juice up over lunch.
11. TO THE CLOUD
Before you head out on your trip, take photos or scan all your travel documents and store them in the cloud. Maybe you just want to email a copy to yourself that you can download remotely from any computer, or you could put it in your secure Dropbox, Evernote, or iCloud. Just make sure you’ve got a copy in case you lose the originals and need information instantly.
So, how do you pack for your family when going on a winter getaway?
Images via DadCAMP