Organizing for a Vacation

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Today we are on our way back home from the Magic Kingdom. After watching my girls’ faces light up over and over again yesterday, there’s no doubt in my mind that it truly is the most magical place on earth!

With 7 days of travel (almost) behind us, I’ve been thinking about what I did right and what I’d do differently to make for an “organized vacation.”

But first, a sidebar. I know some of you are thinking that an organized vacation sounds stressful and too structured and not at all relaxing or spontaneous. But that’s not what I mean at all. When I think of an organized vacation, I think of having everything I need, knowing what I want to see and do, and having a budget so that I don’t come home with regrets about how we spent our time and money.

Here are the key areas for me:

Choose Your Clothing Wisely

It’s so easy to go overboard with clothing when packing for a vacation. No one wants to get caught without enough clothes — or the clothes for the wrong weather — and so we often err on the side of having too much.

I’m all for being prepared, but one way to keep it under control is to pack by outfit instead of just grabbing 5 pairs of pants, 6 shirts, 2 sweatshirts, etc. Lay out your outfits ahead of time according to the expected weather for your trip and then add additional pieces to make each outfit more flexible, i.e., a long-sleeve and short-sleeved shirt for one, a shirt and sweatshirt for another. You don’t need to have alternatives for every outfit, but including flexible options allows you to stretch your wardrobe. For example, we brought sundresses for our daughters and added a couple of pair of leggings for the chilly mornings and cool evenings in Florida this week.

Start Early

I’m famous (among our family, at least) for ending up stressed and frustrated the day before we leave for vacation as I try to balance the everyday needs of my kids with preparing for a vacation. This time, I tried something different, and I actually packed all of our clothing a week before we left and sent as much of it to my mom’s house ahead of time as I could. I was a little stressed on that day, but not nearly as much as usual, and it made the day we left much more relaxing overall!

Pack Activity Bags

Traveling with cranky kids makes for cranky parents, so our goal was to have enough activities to keep all three of our “big” girls busy and content. Truth be told, they’ve spent a lot of time watching movies (something we don’t usually do in the car), and I still have a couple of activities left in each of their bags. But we still have about 10 hours to go, and even if we never get to them, knowing they’re there makes it easier for me to relax and not worry about running out of things for them to do.

Overall, it’s been an amazing trip and I’m so glad we’ve had this time together to just enjoy each other. But I’m always looking for ways to improve, especially as our family grows, so that we can make the most of the time we have!

Are you traveling for the holidays this year? What advice do you have to make it smoother?