Mom’s Guide :: Packing for a Family Vacation


Packing for a family vacation can be a daunting challenge for even the most experienced mama. Here is a real life guide to help.

First, it is crucial you have forgotten all details of last year’s vacation and that it simply exists in your memory as a foggy sun-kissed romp full of children’s smiles and family togetherness. Plan a vacation based only on your happy memories and warm fuzzy feelings.

Remember the kind of organization and planning it takes to successfully uproot your whole family for a week. Panic.

Realize that the stage of life your children are currently in (potty training, morning naps, nightmares, general mouthiness and/or sullenness) will make vacation an emotional and logistical nightmare.

Immediately brainstorm ideas of how to transform your children into perfect humans who will be a delight on vacation. Order parenting book on Amazon. Leave it on your nightstand, unread.

Start planning to take the family you wish you had on vacation. Order cute swimsuits for the family, monogrammed beach towels, matching sunhats for the kids, and workbooks for them to improve their penmanship on long drives and airplane rides.  Forget that the two year old will only wear tutus, the five year old insists on her Shopkins towel every single day and no one will keep a hat on their head for more than two seconds.

Start getting nervous. Amazon time. Your trigger finger is itchy and you start hitting that buy now button. Zinc mineral sunscreen-Buy now! Goggles for the pool-Buy now! You should probably have beachy makeup for that tan you will get-Buy now! Your front porch rivals its December hauls.

Wake up days before vacation with a list in your brain of 763 things you need, and realize your Prime shipping window is gone. Immediately plan a post-bedtime Target trip.

Overthink. Spend approximately a billion dollars at Target. There is no Target trip like the big one before vacation. The one tube of fancy EWG approved sunscreen gives way to a buggy full of spray banana boat. Individually wrapped snack bars that you know are a rip-off? Three boxes. Stress purchasing tank tops for yourself? One in every color please. Little toys and games to distract overly tired fingers while waiting for their food? Clear out that dollar spot.

Pack. You have two choices, you can have children’s bags packed with doll clothes, 6 left shoes, 2 pair of underwear and all their Legos. Or the day before leave, you can send your husband to Chick-fil-A with the children so that you can pack their bags without their input. Picture what you want your Instagram photos of vacation to look like. Lay out the exact things they need: outfits, accessories, shoes. Then panic that it isn’t enough and add 6 more of everything just in case. This ensures that they will be wearing their Elena of Avalor/Paw Patrol shirt with the jelly stain instead of the coordinated outfits of your choosing.

Load up! Load the car until it looks like the modern day Clampets. Then add just one more charger. Remember to load your kids.

Pull away from your house. Get about 20 minutes from home. Remember all the things you forgot. Then let it go.

Your trip is somehow terrible and perfect. No one slept, everybody cried, someone barfed. But it was also full of adventures, and laughter, hugs and long evenings, and your kids can’t stop talking about it. The memories of it will see you through the winter and propel you to book another one next year.  Great job, Mama.




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