2018 · travel

the countdown is officially on

In one week, I’ll be piling the final items into bags and (no doubt) sweating a little as I question whether or not I’ve truly gotten everything we need before our first official family trip. That’s right! We’re off to Florida, and this time, we say we’re bringing F along for the ride.

There’s something rather romantic about the idea of a family trip, at least to me, and while I already know it won’t be idyllic and perfectly relaxing or meltdown-free, I’m totally at peace with this knowing it will be an amazing memory we’ll always share.

It’s F’s first time on a plane and he’s been feeling a bit nervous about that, which made it hard to get him amped up. Now that he’s starting to get excited, it’s making the whole experience that much more magical!

But magical and romantic and exciting or not, the prep work for a week’s vacation is none of those things, which is why I started early to make sure we had everything in order – including nerves and expectations.

Inventory

Since kids can grow a size or more from one year to the next, a quick inventory of clothes that fit is a good first start before the packing begins. And, it turns out, F had outgrown about half of his shorts so we got a couple of new pairs early (and on sale!).

(I also did an inventory of my clothes because even though I wear the same size, my style has changed a bit, and also TREAT YOSELF.)

Communicate Expectations

You wouldn’t need to spend much time around F to know he talks a lot. And it’s tiring AF. Sometimes he just talks, not to anyone, but almost like he’s thinking out loud. We’ve had to explain the need to maintain a reasonable “indoor voice” on the plane early because his idea of an “indoor voice” is something similar to shouting.

We also know we’ll be logging lots of miles and long days, as well, so discussing the expectations in terms of F’s behaviour was as important as checking our own unrealistic expectations of F.

Pack Snacks

Any mom will tell you, a well-timed snack pulled from a handbag can save the day. Travelling is certainly no exception – and the stress of being away from home can often bring out the worst in us all.

We’ll stash lots of granola bars, protein bars, fruit, and juice boxes when we leave the condo every day to make sure EVERYONE’s hangry is handled – from airport waits and long drives, wandering through amusement parks, and more.

Set Itinerary

Although the point of vacation is to relax, there were a handful of things we knew we really wanted to do so we planned out the dates in advance. This helps to set expectations in advance, plus a little planning helps reduce stress in the minute!

Live By Your List(s)

Three weeks ago, I started making lists. Lists are wonderful. By writing down our needs, I was better able to plan what we’d pack (by outfits and activity), what I still needed to buy (travel bottles and flip flops, for example), and gain a better sense of what activities would really make sense for us.

Determine Your Budget

Oh, money. It always gets the best (or worst) of us, doesn’t it?

I knew long before we booked our flight that I wanted to spend roughly $X on our trip. Since our flights weren’t too expensive, that left extra dollars for other things. There are a small handful of things I’d like to buy while we’re there (hello, OUTLET SHOPPING!) as well as a couple of activities I’d like to fit into our days, and knowing the prices (within reason) in advance makes it much easier.

And, on that note…

Buy Ahead

Sometimes, you can score fantastic deals on passes to parks or your car rental by simply buying ahead. See also: this helps you stick to your budget AND plan ahead. Check sites like TravelZoo or HotWire for deals (but make sure you read the fine print!).

Now tell me: What’s your best travel tip?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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