Happy First Day of Spring Everyone!!!! It’s warmish here, and raining. AND I saw a robin this morning outside my window. So it’s definitely feeling like Spring here today. I’m so excited because that means warmer weather is just around the corner. And every Spring, I find myself full of hope for exciting things coming my way. This Spring, is no exception.
And since it’s Monday, and the first day of Spring, I’m sure you’re thinking the Michigan Spring Bucketlist is here. But sadly, it won’t be out until next week. Why might you ask? Because this week is all about Spring Break! I know, I know. I posted Spring Break tips at the end of February. Well my friends, it’s a month later. College kids are all back on campus, and now, it’s time for the families to start their Spring Breaks.
And while I COULD point you back to my previous Spring Break posts, they would literally not apply to you at all. So momma’s of the world… gather ’round. I’m about to make your Spring Break prep a breeze. Today, it’s your Spring Break Packing List: Family Edition. Tomorrow, you’ll find some GREAT ideas for a last minute Spring Break trip that won’t cost you a fortune. Wednesday, the Ultimate Family Staycation guide. And Thursday… well let’s just say I’m saving the best for last. (It has to do with a favorite Mouse of mine..)
Now. You’re probably wondering why the heck a 20 something with zero kids is giving you advice on what to pack for Spring Break with your family. Well guess what? This girl is a teacher. And I PROMISE you, if there is one thing I’m good at, it’s being prepared and having absolutely everything I could ever possibly need. And also, my husband is basically a child. (JK Trev. We all know you pack your own treat bag… 😉 )
Being a Momma, I know you’re busy. Some of you are juggling full times jobs, and some of you are full time Mommas (which is a job too!) and things just slip your mind. Have no fear! I’ve made a list of everything you and your babies could possibly need… and adding a quick printable list (or two!) for you to take along. You’re welcome in advance.
But first… before you can even begin packing, I’m going to share a few tips with you. Again, I’m not a Momma, so I’m not an expert. But these tips are stemming from what I do to prep for a field trip, or just really solid packing tips in general.
10 Tips for Prepping for a Family Vacation
- Pack Your Patience. ‘Nuff said.
- Have a Family Planning Night. One of my absolute FAVORITE things when I was little was our family planning nights. (I know… we made a plan to make a plan. We’re those kind of people.) Whenever we were getting ready for our family vacation (usually to Disney!) we’d order pizza and sit down together with our Disney Guide Book (this was before the internet was big people) and Travel VHS. (OMG I’m so old.) We’d watch the movie, and go through the book. Everyone got to tell their top 3 things we wanted to see. (And if there was something we all agreed on, that was usually one of the very first things we got to do.) My dad would make a list, and use it while he made our day by day itinerary. Not only was it so much fun to help plan, but it also made me really good at planning and organizing vacations as an adult. That being said…
- Plan. Plan. Plan. Make a daily itinerary for your family. It will make your life so much easier in the end. You all know, the second you have a baby, the days of being spontaneous and doing something on a whim are few and far between. Your vacation will go so much smoother when you have a plan to go by. That being said… go knowing that this plan is going to change. As a parent, you know that nothing is going to go exactly like you planned. Be flexible, and don’t let your plans not going perfectly ruin your time. The best thing about having the itinerary, even though it probably won’t go exactly in the order that you’ve written it, is that you have a list of absolutely everything you and your family are hoping to do on your vacation. So even if you can’t wait in line for 3 hours to get on Rockin’ Rollercoaster on Monday, you know what you can do in your free time on Thursday.
- Get Organized and Designate Vacation Station. Vacation Station is the absolute BEST tip I could give you. Choose one spot in your house, that is out of your way, and call it Vacation Station. Start putting things you know you’re going to need as your departure date gets closer and closer. Start making a pile of all the things you are going to be taking with you. The smaller things can go there first. Make up a day by day itinerary, make a travel information page (flight times, hotel information, that kind of stuff!) and print out these packing lists. Then, put them at your Vacation Station. Every time you get something ready to go, add it. By the time packing day comes, you won’t have to sprint around your house looking for everything, it will just be there. And your sanity will be there too 😉
- Start packing early and do it little by little. Don’t wait until an hour before you leave! Start the week before. Those super cute outfits you have in your head for your kid’s first trip to Disney? Pack them. They aren’t going to need shorts before they get to Florida anyways. Those travel size shampoos you bought at the grocery store last week because they were part of a 10 for 10 deal (if you’re Meijer people… you’ll know what I’m talking about? Put them in your designated toiletry bag and tuck them into the suitcase. Flip flops? Not a chance of wearing them in Michigan in March. Pack those up too. Packing little by little will take the stress of packing way way wayyyy down. Every time you pack something, cross it off your list.
- Designate a Snack Bag. This one is more for those of you taking a road trip. Snack Bags are the absolute KEY to happiness. (Just ask my husband.) Pick out one bag (we like to use a big 31 tote bag) and fill it with snacks for the trip. We always went to the store and everyone picked out the snacks they wanted. Then we filled it up and couldn’t touch it before we left.
- Let your kids help. Chances are, your little ones are going to be excited and want to pack their own bags. Well, we all know if you let a 7 year old pack their suitcase, it will probably be filled with toys. So instead, let them pack a backpack to keep themselves occupied while they travel. You can make suggestions, but let them make their own choices. If they have iPads, download a movie or two for them as well. Once they have their bag packed, make sure to check it over for TSA approved items if you’re heading out on an airplane. And make sure they have packed exactly what they want. Make sure they understand that there is no complaining when it comes to what’s inside if they get bored. And if they start to complain? You’ll have the pleasure of saying “I didn’t pack your bag…”
- Do a final check the day before you leave. Double, triple, quadruple check EVERYTHING. Make sure you have everything you need tucked away in your suit cases. Make sure your carry ons have only “airport approved” items in them. Call your credit card company, and let them know you’re going to be away if you haven’t already. Make sure someone is going to be checking in on your house. Have all your tickets and confirmations ready to go. I highly recommend packing all your travel documents into a folder that you can stick in your carry on. This way, they are always accessible to you anytime you need them. And if you’re going out of the country… make sure you have your passports!
- Have a family meeting. The night before you go, have a family meeting. This is going to make your family groan… but it’s important. Talk about the rules of the trip, so that your children know what is expected of them. We always went over what to do if I got separated from my family, how I should behave on the airplane, and what I needed to remember. This is also a good time to explain what is going to happen at airport security (you don’t want little ones to be afraid, especially if it’s their first time flying), and set a spending limit on souvenirs. (This will cut back on your kids asking for everything. They’ll know they only have a certain amount to spend, and know they will have to budget.)And last… but certainly not least…
- Always give yourself extra time. Extra time is a necessity when traveling with more than one other person. Everything will probably take longer than you planned, weather will affect you, and you have to leave room for the unpredictable. Schedule extra time in EVERY aspect of your vacation. Wake up extra early, leave for the airport extra early, give yourself an extra day if you’re driving, plan extra time in your itineraries incase the weather is bad, or one activity runs over. (In fact, I would leave one or two days completely blank on your itinerary. This way, you can move things around if you need to, or you can make last minute plans when you get there.)
And now for the best part… free packing lists! I’m attaching two! One for adults, and one for kids.
How do I use my packing lists? I print one for each person that is going on the trip. This way, I know we each have packed everything we need. If I had children, I would print a packing list for each of them too, even if I was the one doing the packing for them. Why? Because packing for kids can all sort of blend together, and you don’t want one kid to have a complete outfit and the other not to have any underwear! I personally would let my kids help me pack their suitcase, and while we packed, I would let them check off their list. I loved checking off my packing list when I was small, so I’ve designed the kids packing list with them in mind.
Still don’t have a Spring Break trip booked? I’m back tomorrow with 5 last minute Spring Break destinations for you and your family!
Have a wonderful rest of your Monday! I’m so so so excited because Dancing with the Stars comes back tonight!!!