(Warning: this is more than you would ever want to know about the way I prepare for a trip)
Traveling with a family of six (well, five, this time) takes a lot of preparation. Some is necessary, some is because I am neurotic.
This will actually be an easy trip on my kids end, because they aren't doing anything requiring special clothes or shoes. Trips that include weddings, parties, etc are much more stressful....because my two boys who can talk only ever wear "sports clothes" (as Luke calls them)...they don't have much dress clothes. This visit is just for fun, so it's easier to pack.
While I usually wait until the last minute to pack suitcases, this time, I packed their suitcase after I finished laundry on Sunday. This is something I will definitely do again because I am completely able to focus on my trip, now that their bag is done.
This trip to NYC is stressing me out a little bit because I don't know what to expect from the weather. I live in an area where the temperature---year round----remains in a 20 degree window (70 to 90 degrees)....with the exception of, maybe, 5 days. Though I've lived in colder climates, I haven't left the state of FL in well over a year.....so I don't know how my body has adjusted.
Just as my boys don't have dress clothes, I don't have much cool weather clothes. So I am trying to piece together outfits. This is my first girls trip in foreverrrrrrrrrr, so I really want to look cute and feel good during the trip (priorities, ya know?).
I think I have my outfits picked out, but I will try them on before I leave.
This preparation is unique to this trip. Most of the time, I know how clothes fit.
When my family and I travel to MO in November, that trip will take lots of preparation because the kids will have to try on all of their winter clothes (once again, they don't have much, but we will be at my parents' house so I can do laundry).
I will probably overpack on this trip (as I do every trip, haha). I do not like to feel unprepared.
In the days leading up to the trip (any trip), I try to prepare a little each day.
A few days before I leave, I will start to gather my carry-on items for the plane. If my kids are going, I charge all of their devices and pack them in a bag. For my trip this weekend, I will take our iPad and my phone. Last night, I spent an hour or two downloading books from the library onto my iPad. I also scoured Amazon for free Kindle books. I also added/deleted apps. My kids delete my apps and add theirs on the day they get to play electronics, so I restored mine. I am not sure how much I will actually read/play, but I get so restless when I have to sit for hours that I need options.
The days leading up to a trip, I try to use all of the fresh food in our house. I don't like wasting, so I try to serve meals with the food that will expire (this is the norm on any given week, but I am more intentional on travel weeks).
Part of my personality neurosis is that I must come home to a clean house, so a few days ahead of departure, I will begin to clean out things and organize. I save my big cleaning (mopping, vacuuming, etc) for the night before we leave (otherwise it would have to be done again). I also like for every piece of laundry to be done before I leave. The laundry is a more recent thing. Brett works at a gym, and we both work out....so if we leave sweaty clothes, they'll mildew.
None of this is necessary, but it is SO nice to return home to a clean/organized home.
The major downside of this is I will do it even if it's an overnight trip. I act like I am leaving town for a month. And I exhaust myself. With the size of my family in the (small) size of my house, this type of cleaning is necessary on a regular basis.....so it's a good opportunity to do it.
I usually pack the night before a trip. I like to wake up ready to leave (even if we don't leave immediately).
The morning of a trip, I make beds, finalize last minute stuff, and GO!
This trip, my kids will not be flying, but just for future reference, here are some tips I have learned over the years of flying with kids (I am flying alone with all four of them in Nov....just on the way home....Brett is flying out with us but coming home earlier....so I have to be very prepared):
- bring candy, candy, and more candy. This will definitely get through the longest part of the flight. Even if you aren't a candy giver, break your own rules for the benefit of those around you.
- dress your kids cute. I've observed that people are nicer to kids who are dressed well.
- bring a small gift to the flight attendants, and they'll become your ally (and it's just a kind gesture)
True story: I flew near Halloween once and brought the flight crew bags of Halloween candy. A 50-something year old male flight attendant got SO excited and said, "This is my first trick or treat ever."
- don't use the plane ride as a "teaching moment". Yes, tell your kids to stop kicking the seat in front of them and to keep their voices down.....BUT don't worry if your parenting is reduced to bribery and threats. It's two hours of their lives that won't define you or them. This is not the time to try to win any battles.
- if you have a baby, try as hard as you can not to worry about the people around you. Yes, they will roll their eyes and sigh loudly at the first baby peep, but their lives will go on after the flight. If your baby screams for two hours straight (which has happened to me and totally sucks), focus on your baby and don't worry what the people around you think. They will live.
- smile a lot. The more you smile, the more you'll relax and enjoy the ride.
Happy travels, friends!