Packing it all in
Stress-free planning for family fun this summer
Family vacations are a great time to bond with the family and forge memorable experiences. Although family vacation planning can be the hardest part of taking the trip, some vacations don't get stressful until you arrive at your destination. You can reduce stress when you travel with children from the minute you decide to go away until the minute you arrive home, by keeping a few family vacation planning tips in mind.
Whether your destination is the cottage, a family reunion or a provincial park for some fun in the great outdoors, it is important to plan early. This can be a fun and exciting process, as you talk about possible destinations, methods of travel, and activities once you get there. Everyone's likes and dislikes are also important to this process. Plus, planning in advance will give you a better opportunity to find good deals by booking ahead.
Toronto-based mommy blogger, Natasha Muslih, is planning two extensive road trips with her family this summer. She advises doing research on the Internet with everyone in advance.
“I also make a list of all (even if you couldn't possibly visit them all) the attractions that you're interested in, in the city or town you're going and then visit their websites and check on visitor information,” Muslih said. “You'll want to know when these places are open and, if you're on a budget like I am, you can see if they have any free admission times.”
Once you have decided where you are going, what sites you will visit, consider making checklists for the vacation which can include a money and document list, camping gear list, toiletries list and first aid list. Keep them in a binder in one place for the entire trip and each day check them daily for peace of mind.
Travelling with young children by car or in the camper? Be sure to create a checklist and kit that includes plenty of car friendly activities that can pass the time like colouring books, crayons, dolls or toy animals, and magnetic board games. It is also worth considering portable DVD players and MP3 players to occupy the kids.
Packing light is essential for family vacations. No one should cram as many clothes as possible in to last the whole trip, especially if you have to also pack the prized teddy bear. Pack only what you need and store some loonies and quarters for a trip to a coin laundry as part of an extensive trip. (For example: Coin laundries are available at most provincial parks now.)
Purex has come out with a product called Purex Complete 3-in-1 laundry sheets. It is a preloaded sheet that has laundry detergent, softener and anti-static built into it -- simply throw it in with your wash, and then when it's done, toss it into the dryer with the wet clothes. It's a compact way to do laundry on the road.
Once you are packed and en route, remember, it's good to have a plan, but it is also important to be flexible. Before you leave, set realistic expectations about what you are going to do on your trip. Be sure to expect delays on the way, and even schedule one or two days of your vacation where nothing is planned and see where the day takes you.