Tip Tuesday — Vacation Planning

vac frostingIt’s the summer. I’m on vacation. It appears that many of you are on vacation now or are soon to head out on your own adventures. What are your tried and true methods for making sure things go smoothly in your travels? HA HA! We all know that’s not possible. So, how do you at least minimize the chaos? (Laylee calls the sunscreen “frosting”)

Here are a few tips from the DYM:

1. Always refer to yourself in the third person, hopefully in acronym form, while on vacation.

2. Pack a separate bag for each person, regardless of the size (of the person or the bag). This way you’ll have less chance of your three year old wearing your infant’s full-length jeans as capri pants.

3. If you’re staying for longer than 5 days, unpack your clothes and organize them if storage is available.

4. Don’t forget your swimsuit if your parents have a pool in their backyard and end up buying the least nappy suit left on the picked-over racks at Wal-Merto.

5. Make the lists. First do a master list of items each person will need (ex. Pez Dispensers). Then create a list of items specific to the individuals (ex. Snow white attire). Make a list of group-use items (ex. Squeegee). List items for carry-on luggage. Lastly, make a list of things you will need to grab last minute as you leave the house.

6. Bring all pertinent house-selling and buying info with you, if you plan to close on two house deals the week you get back in town.

vac bag7. For the plane ride, pack a bag with lots of easily accessible pockets. Memorize the contents of the pockets so you can reach down and grab a wipe, a headset, or a goldfish (I choose the cracker variety) in 2 seconds or less. Mary Poppins’s bag may look cool, holding all that stuff, but think how long it took her to find anything in there. What seatmate, including your child, is gonna put up with a pole lamp on their lap while you dig around for the duct tape?

8. Have fun and share your secrets here.

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28 Responses to Tip Tuesday — Vacation Planning

  1. Tess says:

    first comment!

  2. Tess says:

    Okay now I can relax… vacation tip… ummm, pay your bills before you go because likely the day your bill is due you won’t be able to gain internet access and pay it online so then you will have to pay over the phone and pay the extortion oops, I meant the phone fee

    One thing I do is pack very very lightly because I am 1)liable to buy a new outfit anyways and 2)most places have laundry facilities

  3. I’ve temporarily turned off the word verification thinger. So, if you see a spam, breathe and move on. I’ll come by and delete it when I wake up. Cheers and happy tipping. 🙂

  4. Angela says:

    “Always refer to yourself in the third person, hopefully in acronym form, while on vacation.” and “I choose the cracker variety” are hilarious.

    Two words: Portable DVD
    It has solved all my problems.

  5. emlouisa says:

    I second the dvd player in the car thingy. Saves me.

    Also, take deep breaths so that you are JUST calm enough not to kill your wonderful children. That is my recommendation.

  6. I give my little one morsels of ice on the airplane. Small enough to melt faster than a choking hazard, long enough to last. That’s a good 30-45 minutes of the flight or a good 30 minutes anywhere else. Oh and if I think she’s not going to last until the drink cart comes, I ask for it before the plane takes off.

  7. Aunt Murry says:

    I pack a days worth of clothes in a 2 gal zip lock bag. it works great. That way, I just grap the bag and go. I imagien ti would work great if you have kids. No fuss no muss. That is if I don’t have business clothes with me but that is a whole other kind of trip!

  8. DYM, The Mary Poppins bag scenario – hilarious!

    For long road trips (last summer with two toddlers from DC to Colorado and beyond…) I have two tricks that worked wonderfully: First, little brown lunch bags that have a dollar store toy or game or even some little toys we already owned. My 2 1/2 year old LOVED opening the “surprises” – we handed them out about every 150 or 200 miles. Some even entertained him longer than that. And second, a roll of tickets ($1.97 at Wally World). Give a predetermined number of the tickets to the kids at the beginning of the trip (or keep them up in the glove box). At each stop, say, that part of the trip was a three ticket ride, and let the children count off three tickets and “pay” you for the ride. You can vary the number of tickets each time based on the number of hours you’ve been in the car since the last stop (or based on behavior), but be sure to show them how many tickets are left…You’ve arrived at your destination when they give you the last tickets! This helps little ones understand the passage of time a little better and cuts down on the “Are we there yet?”s.

    For plane rides (this year – two kids, two layovers, no husband), I refuse to take car seats – the safety to struggle down the aisle ratio is ridiculously out of whack and no one can guilt me into trying to tackle all of that. And I am committed to not packing a carry-on that covers every contingency. Contingencies happen, but less is more – who needs a pole lamp on a plane anyway? I’m thinking diaper, wipes, sippy cup and Benadryl. (Did I say that?)

  9. Stephanie says:

    Yes to the portable dvd.

    Along with fresh and exciting treats and toys from the dollar store.

  10. B.E.C.K. says:

    Um, I think I might have bag envy now. ;^)

  11. Karen says:

    For car travel, since we don’t fly often– I echo the sentiments about the DVD player.

    Magna Doodles are great in the car, no lost crayons, no paper, just lots of quiet drawing. Travel sized ones are even better.

    Children’s books with coordinating cassette tapes are fun and I also squeeze in between the carseats for a few hours to read books or play LeapPad with them.

  12. jenny says:

    I’m in the minority here, no DVD players for us but we do books on tape/cd all the time.

    I highly recommend Color Wonder Markers & books.

    And as far as outfits go…I roll a days outfit together (socks, unders, shorts, tshirt & maybe a sweatshirt or pants) and elastic band it. Grab a bundle and go 🙂

    And I told blackbird the other day, I once did ALL of our laundry the night before we came home. Unpacking a suitcase or two full of clean clothes? Heaven.

  13. jenny says:


    love that bag!

  14. californiazenmom says:

    So great that your commitment to entertain all of us and make us laugh doesn’t go on vacation!!!

    A couple more tips:
    1. New, cheap, wrapped in birthday paper toys to be opened every hour.

    2. Making sure you fly on a BIIGGG plane that has 2 aisles and several flight attendant work stations, so your 13 month old has an “orbiting pattern”.

    3. NOT flying airlines that have the flight attendant call button on the ARMREST (obviously designed by a SINGLE engineer) so your 19 month old does NOT have access to it for the entire 12 hour flight.

    4. Role playing the carry-on baggage screening process AT HOME with your 20 month old, so she understands that her stuffed bear is NOT going to disappear into the x-ray machine black hole FOREVER, but will in fact emerge on the other side of the black hole, so she doesn’t throw herself down in the middle of the metal detector kicking and crying while Japanese businessmen step over her.

    5. Packing TWO extra sets of clothes so after you use the FIRST set when your 22 month old spilled juice all over herself, you still have ONE set left over when she pukes all over herself and her dad upon landing and you don’t have to stand in the customs line REEKING of puke for the olfactory pleasure of your fellow citizens.

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation in sunny-ville while we shiver up here in jeans wishing it were warm enough for gauchos. 🙂

  15. blackbird says:

    I always think that I should clean the ENTIRE house before we leave so that we will be greated with sparkling surfaces upon our return.
    But that NEVER happens.

    You could try it though, it’s a good idea…

  16. Anonymous says:

    For planning/packing list Flylady is great –

    traveling with infant

    packing list for toddler

    I tried making links but not sure it worked, there are lots of articles on http://www.babycenter.com or http://www.parentcenter.com

    For road trip, keep an eye on how long until the next “stop” in case of potty emergenices or pack a “disposable” potty or potty seat. Or practice going in the grass before traveling? Convenient when you’re at the park!

    Teach your children it’s fun to look out the windows (cows, trees, signs for McDonald’s, etc). Disposable bibs, spoons, etc. Separate bag for diapers and wipes, makes it easier to restock because you know that 1 bag has it all. Putting Aquaphor or other diaper rash cream on before leaving (when sitting a long time, this makes it more comfortable and less likely to develop diaper rash). Huggies brand Convertibles are better than Pull-Ups, they hold more!

    My children are age 5 and under, so there’s my 2 cents! 🙂

  17. HLH says:

    I second the portable DVD player for any trip in the car or air that will last longer than 2 hours.

    I ALWAYS carry a bribe in my diaper bag. It seems that my children like to throw fits at the most inoportune times while we are traveling, so I carry marshemellows or m&m’s in the bag for those emergencies.

    Oh- and don’t forget the shot records to verify your childs age for air travel. Oh- and wear shoes that are slip ons so that you can take them off at airport security without having to drop the child.

  18. Gabriela says:

    Once we took a 3 day SCUBA DIVING trip to Curacao. Guess who forgot her swimsuit? Yep. DUH.

    the cheapest one I could find was pretty skimpy! 🙂

    I like to put all of the kids church clothes together in somekind of separate bag within the suitcase. Have you ever seen “cubes” by Eagle Creek? We have a bunch and they help a lot with suitcase organization.

  19. Not surprisingly, this is an excellent post.
    Here are mine:
    -DVD player is a must
    -I always clean my house before leaving. I hate coming home to find a dirty house (there’s no such thing as a cleaning fairy).
    -Always check the weather forecast, so you can be prepared with the appropriate clothes. Once we went to Vegas in November, I thought it was going to be cold. Wrong!
    -Bring plenty of “frosting”

  20. Lauren says:

    Awwww, I have not tips, I just don’t get out enough. But I loved your post!

  21. Stephanie says:

    Immodium, for the adults and the kiddies. Whenever we go, someone inevetibly gets that yucky feeling in their belly. I hope you have a GREAT time on your vay-cay!

  22. Trivial Mom says:

    Babies R Us has a table thingy that hooks onto your toddlers carseat. It’s great! It’s got adjustable straps to hook around the bottom of the seat and the tray on top has sides. That way the crayons don’t roll away and the fishy crackers don’t get lost in the car seat.

    Lets see if I can put a link in here: Soft Travel Tray

    Oh and I second (third, fourth, whatever) the cheap new toys and especially the DVD Player. A trick with the DVD player take all the movies you want to play and re-burn them so they don’t have the title crap. The movie just starts playing instead of you trying to figure it out while looking at it upside down or backwards.

  23. Aunt Murry says:

    I must give credit where credit is due. I actually got the idea for the ziplock bags per day from Rocks in my Dryer. http://www.rocksinmydryer.typepad.com/

    She did a whole thing about travel in May when they went to Disney.

  24. Tri Mama says:

    I pack fun snacks in ziplocks for each day of vacation. Its cheap and gives them something to look forward to…

  25. Heather O. says:

    Double on the whole two outfits on the plane, even if your kid is beyond the poop in the pants stage. She or he can still spill things, and I have learned that if there is a colored drink anywhere in the airplane, my son will spill the entire thing on his clean shorts within 2 minutes, and then spill any other beverage you would care to consume on his clean shirt in the next 4 minutes, and flight attendents generally frown on having mostly naked occupants on their plane, even if he is only 3.

    Also, Neutrogena has a great new sunscreen spray. It’s pricey, but now “lathering up” takes about 2 seconds, feels good, and you avoid that whole swiping the extra sunscreen on your onw shoulders and getting sunburn handprints problem. Plus, you can spray it on their baby hair to protect their exposed scalps without looking like you haven’t washed your child’s hair in 12 days.

  26. That is the ROCKIN’est post. I love your hilariosity!

  27. Sketchy says:

    Amen to the portable dvd player however I have yet to find one that doesn’t break! So I think we are onto books on tape…more imagination required anyway.

    One tip if you are going anyplace likely to be overcroweded. Pack in one wal-mart bag clothes that match for the entire group. It is so much easier to find your child if you are picking out only “orange shirt” kids in the near vicinity. Oh and don’t use white or blue…way to many random people in white or blue t-shirts.

  28. LisaS says:

    with little ambulatory kids: put a piece of neon colored cotton twine in your carry-on. upon arrival at the airport, tie children to you. with two or more, tying them serial rather than in parallel is the best idea. use knots you can untie since knives/scissors/nail clippers are not allowed. put the most responsible, obedient one first in line, regardless of age.

    I almost always get the supplementary search, and this keeps the kids corralled while letting me deal with the TSA people. it makes everyone, including those poor, hassled souls, laugh, and Lord knows they could usually use it.

    (and rather than a DVD player, just take a laptop that will play DVDs … multiple use items are the way to go!)

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