Preparing for a holiday needs just that – preparation. We all know as a parent the number one rule to survival is ‘a day ahead”. Same goes with family trip preparation, but perhaps a few months or weeks out instead.
Break it down. Simplifying what you need to achieve into smaller parts is an easy way to get rungs on the ladder and start working through all that you need to do. Family trip preparation can be complicated, but divide and concur. It’s been done before and can be achieved again.
Where are you staying and has your booking been made? With kids in tow, there is much you need to consider in relation to accommodation. Do you need blackout curtains for sleep? Would a sink be required to wash bottles and prepare baby food? Do you need a microwave to heat food or will a kettle do? How are you going to store food? Are you planning to purchase food or travel with it? You might want to consider there is a bath rather than just a shower. Create a list of what you must have and what would be nice to have. For me, a bedroom is essential in that I want to be able to put kids to bed and then stay up and read or watch the TV.
If you are travelling with children I recommend as few changes in hotels as you can manage. I get that you may need to go to 4 locations but consider as few places as you can. Why? Family trip preparation requires logistics. The more different hotels, the greater the logistics. You will be packing for not only yourself in each of these locations but all the little people and often your husband as well.
You will check each room for teddy and any belongings left behind and you will have to ensure certain things are left out for transport or flights. (games, change of clothes and books) If you are breaking up a flight with an overnight consider checking luggage through and only having hand luggage with your needs for your brief stay.
We will be flying from Australia and then we have car hire for a few days when we arrive in California and again the following week in Hawaii. My travel agent has booked transfers to the hotel and between hotels. She has made sure the car booking includes car seat hire and that it will be big enough to transport us and luggage. My husband’s dream of driving a Mustang down the coast forgotten. Family trip preparations mean you need to consider how much luggage, will the car fit all that luggage and are there alternative transport methods to a car. Transfers do not always mean a bus.
Be sure to ask how many other passengers will be included. We have been collected earlier than required and driven around in circles to collect 3-4 other passengers to arrive at the airport and the children were sick as a result of driving around and around. A car may be preferable.
What do you want to do whilst on holidays? On our summer vacation the activities are essentially beach every day. That means we have snorkels, surfboards, towels and beach chairs to pack. Going to the US we are going to be walking around Disneyland and then the following week swimming in Hawaii. We will be staying in resorts with lounges by the pool and welcome packs for the kids (which I know at one hotel is a bucket and spade set) We are planning some hikes so we will need some walking shoes (already packed for Disney) but I am planning some adult time with a few meals out with just hubby and I.
Apart from tickets into theme parks I have left a few days free to do just whatever we fancy as we get there. Family trip preparation has meant I have had to consider the type of tickets at each park. Family tickets are often a great way to save on entrance fees but they may come with restrictions so read the terms and conditions when planning.
Beyond what bookings you have made you need to consider insurance and visas. What is required for where you are going and adequate insurance for your trip? Be sure to read the fine print for travel insurance it can be a very expensive exercise if you are not adequately insured. I have been violently ill and the hotel would not get a doctor to come and visit me and help me get ready to fly home. A call to the travel insurance sure helped in getting me not only access to a doctor but also the doctor following up to make sure I was indeed feeling better. Makes a lot of difference to your trip to be able to get up and going again quickly.
Be sure to have copies of passports and booking documentation. A girlfriend recently had her bag stolen and all 4 passports stolen which meant she was stuck in New York for an additional week whilst she waited for new passports to be produced. Travel insurance paid the additional night’s accommodation and the changes in tickets to fly home.
I save all my travel documentation to a cloud file before leaving. I can then access it or ask other people to access while I am gone should I need to.
Consider what luggage you have and if that is suitable for your trip. When we go on our summer vacation we drive so we usually pile a canvas bag into the car and off we go. It does mean there are several bags and additional bags because we don’t have luggage large enough for everyone. We are heading overseas for 3 weeks in a month and I have succumbed to buying what I would call ‘real’ luggage – you know with locks and wheels etc.
Last year when I headed to Malaysia I had to make sure the luggage was able to be thrown on my back as some of the places we were heading to were remote and wheels not actually at all handy. Using this same luggage for the states is possible but as it is essentially a backpack on wheels I am not sure whilst fine for packing jungle clothing my dresses and shirts I want to pack for the US will look all that great upon arrival.
Family travel preparation has meant I have spent a lot of time researching and investigating at the shops. Having said that I can promise I have spent more time at airports watching those moving with their luggage the easiest. I am going with a hard bag on swivel wheels and every family member will have the same. I saw a man in Singapore last year pushing ten of these at speed through the airport. With one hand! I recommend American Tourister – they are light, durable, affordable and so easy to push, pull.
Smaller is always better. The bigger bag will always allow you to over-pack. Get the smaller one. Pack less and if you get invited somewhere fabulous – buy something suitable!
luggage covers. I know they seem like something just the pedantic use right? They may be so but it not only keeps your luggage clean but also protects them. I recommend Samsonite as they are durable and tough. Many other covers are just nylon covers for decorative purposes.
Cross body bags in a light weight fabric. Yes, leave your handbag at home and carry a lightweight bag that can be thrown in a larger bag for planes and used as day-bag. With kids you are always carrying things so you want your handbag to be light and your hands free to carry other things.
Add some of these July Nine bags to your day-bag. They are so handy for carrying purchases and preventing carrying excess store bags. I use these away, at home and all the time. Perfect for collecting parcels at the post office and perfect for use as a beach-bag or pool tote when on holidays. Added tip – they make great gifts.
Too many times I have not had a chance to pack until late the evening before we were heading somewhere. DO NOT DO THIS. Family travel preparation requires advanced organisation to allow you to do all the laundry and pack. Re-pack and pack again. If you leave your packing to last minute it is most likely you will over-pack. This is the number one reason for over packing. Ensure all the clothes you want to take with you are laundered and ready to go. I use large zip-lock bags for my kids and put their daily outfits in each bag.
Given our next trip we will be away nearly 3 weeks I am not sure I will have 3 weeks of outfits so they may need to wear somethings twice. Last year we had time in the jungle and time in Singapore. I packed a bag for Singapore and a bag for the jungle. Socks were in a bag in the luggage. I constantly found I had to take all the bags out to find the one bag I was looking for – pants, shirts etc.
Family travel preparation could include see-through plastic bags making it so much easier to find and locate things or colour coded bags for each type of clothing in whatever bag. My sister packs one outfit and writes the date on the outside of the bag – family travel preparation may involve coordinating outfits ahead of time and allowing time to ensure the one jumper you are packing is versatile and can be worn with most outfits.
I find having a drawstring bag for laundry very handy as when opportunity to do some laundry arises you can access the dirty clothes quickly.
You do not “just-in-case” items and you do not need more than 3 pairs or shoes (people would argue you actually only need 2)
Now that you have the various departments organised you are ready to set off on your trip. Biting off small tasks makes for simplified organisation and minimal stress. AND, more time to enjoy your holiday