In just a couple of weeks, my family will head out for our Spring Break trip to Destin, FL!
While it's our first time to Destin, my family is no stranger to road trips and vacations. I love getting away with my husband and kids and we do it as much as our small budget will allow.
And through the years, I have developed a few tricks to saving time, money, and my sanity for when we travel.
Hope they can help you, too!
1. Meal Management: We ALWAYS pack our lunch and snacks in an insulated tote for that first day of travel. It saves us at least $25, and that way, the girls can eat when their hungry, and not just when it's convenient for us to stop. I also go to the grocery at home before we go and take along things like cereal, fruit, bread, PB&J, spaghetti, etc. so that we can make some of our meals at the hotel/condo/house. I know part of the fun in traveling is eating out, but by eating just a few meals at home, you can save lots of money and also ensure that your kids are eating at least some healthy meals!
2. Clothes for Kids: A great system that I use for packing our kids clothes is that I lay out 1 outfit for each girl per day, plus a few extra (in case they have a spill etc.). This includes underwear, socks, hair accessories etc. Then, I put each outfit into a separate zip-lock bag and seal it and pack it up. That way, when it's time for them to get dressed, they can just choose a bag and put on that days outfit. I don't have to worry that it will all match and they have the freedom to choose which outfit they want. It's a win-win!
3. Keep the Kids Happy: Before we leave for our trip, I head out to Wal-Mart, Target and The Dollar Store and stock up on little presents for the kids. I put them all into a "surprise bag" that stays with me. Then throughout the trip, (especially the drive to and from), I reach into the bag and pull out the little gifts I got. Most of the gifts are small and inexpensive, like a sticker book or activity pad, but I also try to include a few big ones like a new DS game or a DVD they will like. It makes the time pass much quicker and the girls love getting the surprises one at a time.
4. Watch The Weather: Make sure that you check out the upcoming weather of your destination! You can go to Weather.com and look at the 10 day forecast to get a good idea, and pack accordingly. One year we went to Disney and fortunately, I had looked ahead and we knew that they were having unusually cold weather (like highs in the 30's!), so I packed coats etc. Other families didn't and were forced to try and find coats to buy there, which was VERY expensive! Plus, the kids will get cranky really fast if they are too hot or cold.
5. Develop a Plan: I write up an itinerary for our entire trip before we go. I research places we want to eat, activities, sites we want to see, and I get the kids involved in the planning too. And don't forget to include activities that are just for them!! For example, when we go to Destin, we are taking the girls on a surprise Dolphin cruise because they have developed a new interest in them, (thanks to the movie, Dolphin Tale...). It's not something my husband and I are particularly interested in, but I know they will love it, and I want them to know that what they like to do is important, too!
6. Be Flexible: I know I said to make a plan, but within that plan, build some flexibility! If you have a full day of shopping on the agenda, but wake up to find that the kids are having a whiny and fussy day, maybe change it to a beach day or a park day. Remember, this is their vacation, too, and they might just need to relax.
7. Let Your Little Photographers Loose: My kids LOVE to take pictures, but I don't want them breaking my camera. So, a few years ago, we got them their own. We use the Fisher-Price Kid Tough Cameras, but if you don't have one of those, they still sell the disposable cameras at most drug stores. The kids will love the fact that the grownups don't get to have all the picture taking fun, and you can even give them "assignments" like get five pictures of different shells, or find 3 different flowers to photograph, or make 10 silly faces!
8. Bring The Essentials From Home: I know that sometimes we feel like we have to pack up the entire house when we take our kids. But sometimes, we get so focused on all the stuff we have to bring, that we forget the things that will keep our kids on track. For example, don't forget that special blankie or dolly. And if their own pillow will help them sleep better, bring that too. Also, don't forget the medicines (and a measuring spoon!)!!! You never know when Benadryl will be needed or when your kid will get a fever. Other things to keep on hand will be bandaids, a thermometer, an ice pack, and nausea meds if your child is prone to car sickness, (which we had to find out the hard way...)
9. Bring a Trash Can for The Car: Ummm, this kind of relates to the car sickness thing, but also, you wouldn't believe how much trash you accumulate on a little car trip with kids! A great idea I saw on Pinterest was to get a Tupperware cereal container (that has a sealed top), put a plastic garbage bag in it, and then put the top on. That way, the top seals and you don't have to smell the garbage the whole time, and it won't fall over and spill out!
10. Plan Your Travel Time: You can only watch so many DVD's, play so many video games and listen to so many songs on the radio. Plan ahead for some fun car games to play with the kids. This will get everyone involved and break up the drive a little. For example, after an hour of driving, I usually tell the girls to put away their games and we play the Licence Plate Game for 15 minutes. After fifteen minutes, they get a surprise, and then they can watch a movie. After the movie, we play another game for fifteen minutes and then we get a snack. The day goes on like that and the time flies by!
So tell me, do you have any travel tips to share? I would love to hear them!!
I will be linking up to Many Little Blessings for Top Ten Tuesday and We are THAT Family for Works for me Wednesdeay. Be sure to check them out!