With winter vacation and long holidays coming up, I'm sure many of you have your travel plans penciled in. Along with the anticipation of a fun-filled trip also comes the complicated task of preparing for said trip.
It may include prepping your house, suitcase, car, food or snacks, and kids activities for that long drive or airplane ride. The most common type of trip we make in our family is the 5 hour road trip to Southern California to visit our families, and because we've made this trip SO MANY times, my preparation routine has become second nature.
STEP 1: Clean Your House
Think of house cleaning before a trip in this way: What do you NOT want to come home to after a long trip? Ants on the floor? Stinky garbage odor?
Before I leave for a trip, I clean my house the same way I do before I'm having guests over.
Because when I come home after many days away the LAST thing I want to do is try to pry off dried-on gunk or be forced to open every window and door to air out that gross smell.
STEP 2: Wash (Most Of) Your Laundry
Yes, I know this is kind of crazy. Why would you need to wash clothes before a trip when you're going to have to wash them after you come back anyway?
I tend to wash most of my laundry before a trip for two reasons: 1) I have lots of clean clothing options to choose from for my trip, especially kids clothes which can get messy VERY fast. And 2) I can take away some of the post-trip laundry burden for when I return.
Either way, an empty laundry basket makes me happy.
STEP 3: Use Up Perishables In Your Fridge
Find creative uses and recipes to finish off that carton of milk, containers of leftovers, and those fruits and veggies in your crisper.
I like to empty out my fridge as much as possible before a trip. It keeps our family from wasting perfectly good food that would otherwise go bad, and then I restock when I've returned.
I keep a running list of groceries on my fridge, so when something finishes I'm not reliant on my bad memory to recall what else I need to buy.
STEP 4: Pack Your Clothes
Pack just enough for your trip and no more. I usually have one carry-on suitcase for both of my kids, one for my husband, and one for me.
I'll be putting up a post on how I pack a suitcase for travel. Link is soon to come!
STEP 5: Ready Your "Boredom Busters"
For long car rides, and planes rides too, you'll need a few fun activities to keep little ones (and grown-ups) from getting grumpy or bored. For our road trips we usually pack:
1) a snack bag for when munchy cravings hit,
2) a few pillows and a light blanket to encourage snoozing (and quiet!),
3) an activity bag for the kids, which usually includes:
- a few reading books
- two to three small toys or stuffed animals
- a magnetic puzzle
- a doodleboard
- a couple of activity/coloring books
- a bag of colored pencils or markers
- kid-friendly music
- an electronic device like an iPad or Kindle,
4) music, an audio book, or a couple of downloaded lectures on an interesting topic, so the grown-ups have something to listen to as well.
Then we just pack up the car, fill up gas, and we're ready to go!
I use this same routine whether I'm going on a long vacation by air or traveling for just a few days by car.
It may take some time and prep work but it's worth it. Frontloading major chores before a trip gives me much less to do when I've returned, and that makes everyone happy.
What do you do to prepare for a trip? Share your tips below!