Planning a memorable family vacation is two parts fun and one part planning. No matter the composition of your family, whether you’re traveling with young children or adult family members, it is so important to be prepared. And you know how we are about being prepared at Your Stylish Ways.
Let’s also mention how sometimes small hiccups in our preparation can create the most hilarious memories. For example, at the age of eight, I declared to my mother that I was ready to pack my own bags for my summer vacation to see my grandmother. I was so excited to pack my favorite toys and clothes. I put everything in my suitcase I knew I would need for the perfect summer. Then when I arrived, and it was time to take a bath before bedtime, I learned that I had completely forgotten to pack underwear, the most important clothing item!
Fortunately for me, my mother reviewed my packed bag before leaving and realized that I hadn’t packed underwear. As a joke, she packed them in her own bag, waiting for me to approach her about not having them. Since then, whenever I tell her I’m heading out on a trip, she always asks if I’ve packed my undergarments.
I was lucky she was prepared, and I know you will be too. Check out a few of our family travel preparation tips below to make sure your best-laid plans are executed for building long-lasting memories with your family.
And make sure you have it in multiple locations. This is ideal, especially when you’re traveling abroad. Make sure you have a photo copy of your ID and passport both in your bag, carry-on, and with someone you trust back home in the States.
- Make a List
Start by making a list of everything you know you’ll need to pack and bring with you and everything you know you will need to get done before you leave for your trip at least 30 days out. This can be important for making sure you have a dog sitter that’s available or that your dress/suit is dry cleaned in time to pack. This also helps you know what items you may need to purchase in preparation.
- Contact Your Host/Accommodations
There is nothing worse than telling the kids there will be unlimited swimming or restaurants on site and those things not being available when you arrive. I know I oftentimes select hotels based on their ability to provide breakfast just so that I don’t have to rush in the morning. Making sure things like the pool or fitness center are open and available before you arrive can make your self-care plans easier. Plus, you’ll know if you need to make other arrangements before you arrive.
- Print Your Itinerary and Save it in the Cloud
Make sure you have at least one print-out of all your reservation information. I know we can usually access everything from our phones, but in some cases, you may not have access to the internet. You can also save this information in a cloud space like Google Drive or Dropbox. This way, if you lose the copy you can find some Wi-Fi and log in to get the information you need.
- Get Everyone on the Same Page
Make sure that your whole family knows the plan, especially if you’re traveling with adult family members and school-aged children. This is a great time to go over emergency plans in case someone gets separated, what expectations are in terms of who will be paying for what, and check-in times when everyone will come back together. Also, be sure and share the emergency plans with someone back home just in case a lost family member calls.
- Entertainment and Snacks
One of my favorite breakfast foods is peanut butter, and I try and make sure I have a snack-sized version of this whenever I travel, just to scare away those hangry moments. I wouldn’t be surprised if you or your family have favorites as well. For long travel distances and activities, be sure and have a snack that everyone can easily enjoy. This will ensure that almost everyone will have a good attitude. For smaller children whose attention spans can vary, be sure to have entertainment options that are lightweight and don’t take up too much space, like coloring books, an e-reader with books and videos, or books/magazines for young adults.
Websites like Groupon, Living Social, Eventbrite, and Cheap Tickets offer a great way for you to find affordable activities and entertainment across the globe. Be sure and check out these sites about a week ahead of your trip to find activities you can do with your family for a great discounted rate. I love this because you can find locally sourced activities and new restaurants to try.
- Charge Everything!
It should go without saying how important it is to charge all your devices and bring external battery packs. This is important, especially when you’re traveling to new and distant destinations. It would be awful for your battery to run out while you’re trying to get to your hotel or some other place. It’s also important for keeping the kids entertained on laptops and tablets.
- Gather All Your Packing Items
Gathering all your packing items before the big day will allow you to see what may/may not be missing or washed. It’s a great way to add an additional layer of accomplishment as you check off each thing on your master list as well.
On a recent trip to South America, a friend shared a story about a man who always brought a fix-it kit with him. As a result, when his son’s flip-flop shoe broke, he was able to fix it until they could get to a store to purchase him new ones. Making sure you have what’s needed to bandage a wound or scuffed knee will always make you the hero of the day.
Do you have any packing preparation activities you’d love to add? Please be sure and share them with us!