Two Packing Tips for a Better Family Vacation


Two Packing Tips for Family Vacation

Whoever said that family vacations are not really vacations–yes and amen. I always love the idea of heading off to the beach for a week with my family, but once I get there, I remember that I’ll still be awakened every hour of the night (like at home), the kids won’t sleep in (just like at home), and they probably won’t take very good naps (unlike home–why did I leave?). Then there are the eating issues of way too much vacation food and not enough roughage, the entertainment issues of no toys or not the right toys, the beach issues of non-PBS-thus-non-friendly crabs, sea life, and the most likely scenario of sharks in the swimming pools. By the end of the first three hours, I am ready to throw everything up in the air and leave. And then I realize I have 5.9 days left to endure.

By the way, happy fall break and vacationing to the rest of you suckers!

The one little tiny area that I have realized that I can control is packing.

I love packing. Well, I like it when my kids are stationed in front of the TV with Paw Patrol and Ryder saving Adventure Bay, which impossibly contains every ecosystem on the planet…but that’s different, sorry. Packing. There is something extremely purposeful and surprisingly relaxing that happens to me while I pack. It’s probably part of my OCD nature, but if the wonderful man I call my husband tries to pack up the van, I’ll usually sneak out and rearrange it. Better. Because if you cannot access the extra diapers and wipes and underwear without taking everything out in the middle of the QuikTrip parking lot, you’ll wish you had done so.

I used to pack a big bag for mommy, a smaller bag for daddy, and three tiny bags for each boy. So cute! They can pull their little bags up to the room! And then one of us ends up hauling the tiny Lightening McQueen bag, the itty bitty suitcase which only holds two shirts, and the teeny tiny baby bag up ten floors while the other parent hauls up the children, who have been forced against their will to hold their sippy cups while they ride the elevator. Or, if we are fortunate to find a cart, the one half of our entire household we needed to survive the week is loaded up, with all the tiny bags constantly falling off and causing us to want to burn everything and leave.

I finally realized my stupidity of packing when my sister-in-law with six kids pulled up to a family vacation time and neatly hauled out of the vehicle a few heavy-duty storage totes containing everything they needed. Boom. Done. They neatly stack up in the impossibly tiny rooms we are expected to live in for a week, they can double as dirty laundry buckets for the way home, they stack up nicely in my van, they can fit three kids’ worth of clothes for a week, plus diapers and wipes. And as a bonus, they don’t slide off the hotel carts so we can enjoy our first hour of arrival.

We have lots of storage totes in our attic with extra toys we rotate in/out of the boys’ lives, off-season clothes, Christmas decor. I usually just empty two of them onto the floor and then when we get home, pack them back up! You can read Stephanie’s article about how she uses storage bins to pack and be ready for a move at any time–genius! So if you find packing to be a stressor on top of the already stressful situation, try some storage bins next time. Your teenagers will thank you. (Not.)


My second tip for a better family vacation is to control the sleeping issues.

Usually when we go places with extended family, the sleeping situation isn’t clear until we arrive…and it’s usually less accommodating for a family of five than more. Thankfully, a few years ago, I was at a yard sale and there is was a fold up kids cot made by Regalo. The dad running the yard sale convinced me to buy it and it has saved many a night away from home. We purchased another through Amazon when our second kid got out of the pack and play and our boys sleep almost as good in them as they do at home…which isn’t great compared to your average child, but helps us to survive vacation. These cots are very lightweight, easy to set up and can be stored easily during the day when you need to actually walk around in your two-foot square bedroom. They also clean up pretty well when your kid throws up from all the vacation sugar.



Two Packing Tips for Family Vacation

Maybe some day I’ll gain some tips on eating during vacation and entertainment during vacation, plus ways to ward off the ridiculous shark-in-the-pool myth, but for now, I’m glad I have succeeded in fixing two of my vacation problems. And now on to packing and steeling my mind for the next week to come…

Happy fall break to all!