Monday, April 27, 2015

Preparing For A Family Trip

Every year we go on 2-5 roads trips. We try to go to my dad's in Detroit at least once a year, Appleton, WI for a Pastor's Conference, Omaha, NE for a Conference and then there may be a few other trips that come up.

We LOVE to travel with our kids! It's such a great time of irritation, annoyance, cramped, and charlie-horsed muscles, all snug together within snot-nose reach of one another... it's great! 

Just kidding... kinda... No, but really it's all what we make it. If our outlook is to spend time as a family, spend time fine tuning the character traits in our children, and to spend time snuggling up with our spouse and allowing our children to see that intimacy between their parents which usually isn't as apparent in the midst of the business of lives, then it's going to be a GREAT time! On the other hand, if our outlook is to try to "get some me time" or to to listen to the speakers and get "built up" so I can do this parenting thing, then we are SURE to have a crummy trip. 

So then there's the nitty gritty that us women think about in detail that has to take place before, during and after the trip that, quite frankly, never enters a man's mind. As I'm working through these details, I wanted to jot some tips and tricks down that I've learned since we are a family that travels white a bit. 

(1) Get Your Outlook Adjusted: Like I said above, go into this trip with a proper attitude. You, the wife and the mother, have such great influence over the "spirit" of your family. If mom's happy, light-hearted, patient, compassionate, friendly, and bubbly, then everyone enjoys themselves. Strive to have a good attitude, and be joy and blessing to your husband and your children. Prepare ahead of time to purpose to do this. 

(2) Start Your Lists: I would do this a week before you leave. This way you don't forget to charge batteries, purchase certain items, or pack any items. I make a:

- Food List: We are the family of allergies! What's for breakfasts/lunches/snacks/dinners? Will there be a fridge? A Microwave? What restaurants will be around that we can eat at? How much can I spend on travel food? Where do I get those items? When should I purchase the food for the trip? Does the food need any prep work (assembling, cutting, washing, pre-separating)?

- Clothing List: Will we need swimsuits? Will your newly-potty trained child need several pairs of extra underwear and pants? How many outfits does each child REALLY need? Will it be cold, warm, or hot weather? Is my period due? What about medicine?

I fit my ENTIRE family into ONE suitcase. There's more room in the car (in case your famiy member's car breaks down and you need to squeeze 6 more people's belongings into yours.. see below picture), less fussing over packing, repacking and unpacking.

- Activities for Children: What activities should I pack? Do I need new supplies (coloring books, crayons, play dough)? Does anything need batteries or to be charged? 

- Chores Needing Attendance Before Departure: When will I do the last loads of laundry to there isn't musty clothes waiting for us to get home? When will I do the final vacuum? The final sweep and mopping? Will we make breakfast before we leave and therefore need dishes to be washed in the morning? What do I want to come home to? Will company be coming home with us? What do I need to do to prepare for that?

It helps to keep little boxes for organizing things. A Box of car activities. A Box of healthy treats and sandwiches.

(3) Set Up Your Plan: 
Monday - Deep Cleaning (Bathroom, vacuuming upstairs, changing bedding), Packing clothing, and preparing Bedrooms for mom and dad. 

Tuesday - Grocery Shopping and Deep Cleaning the Living Room

Wednesday - Bathing Children and Braiding Hair, Finishing All Laundry in house, preparing food (sandwiches, sliced vegetables, mixing trail mix ect), sweeping and mopping.

Thursday - Leave at 6am.

Elias LOVED his car book. It kept him very occupied. 

*NOTE: Spreading all that needs to be done over the course of several days makes this so much less stressful and leaves room for the inevitable "emergencies" that come up and demand our attention (such as an appendix scare and admission into the hospital; See future post)
Unfortunately we spent two days in Children's Hospital due to a high WBC and other strange symptoms.  Good thing we started packing and cleaning ahead of time!


  • Place all your dirty Laundry into a Garbage bag to keep separate from the clean clothes. This also helps with unpacking since you can just bring the bag of dirty clothes right into the laundry room and play into the wash. 
  • If you're going to a conference or event where kids need to sit quietly for longer periods of time, make sure you plan different activities so that they have something "new" to play with when they get bored. Buy some new things from the dollar store and don't show it to them! Every speaker, or every hour, given them a new surprise to play with along with a snack.
  • If you are sitting a lot, make sure the kids get some time to be kids. Let them run around outside when you can. Stay in a hotel where there is a pool or near a park. 
  • If you're staying at someone's home, take the time to walk your children through scenarios they may face and not know how to deal with (disagreements between them and other children in the home, sleeping in an unknown place ect.)
  • Be flexible. Have Fun. Relax. Be creative. Allow your husband to lead. 
Fortunately, we were given a nursery area all for ourselves!

Ipads (Leap Pads) are ONLY for road trips. We'll usually buy a new game or a new app for trips and this makes the iPads a real treat!
We ended up buying these flotation deals while we were there. Good thing we packed light! We had plenty of room to fit them in our suitcase.


  • Unpacking Tips: Unpack RIGHT AWAY! Walk in the door, bring everything in. Open your bag and pull out your dirty laundry you've been placing in a garbage bag and put it right in the wash. Place food in the fridge, place clean clothes under one arm, and toiletries under the other and head upstairs and put them away. DONE! Get the kids involved. It's great for them to learn the responsibility of their own belongings and how to persevere when they are exhausted. Of course, if you're walking through the door at 1am, I would put the kids to bed, but I would still unpack right away. Then it's done! 
  • Spend a day relaxing, recovering, and talking about all you learned on the trip. Don't get back into the grind of things right away. Reflect on what the Lord's taught you and don't miss out on letting those lessons really soak into your heart and mind.  
  • Eat plenty of probiotics. Traveling stops you up (if you know what I mean) and often means you've eaten unhealthy (at least more then normal) and your body could benefit from a boost of healthy gut bacteria. 

My dad and step-moms LARGE conversion van broke down on the way home. This is a glimpse of the amount of stuff we had to fit in our van. Praise the LORD another person from the hurrah drove by to pick up my mom and brothers. The rest of us had to squeeze in the van FULL of stuff!
Dad broke down right by a rail road track. We got to see several trains zoom past which was very cool! We grabbed blankets and laid on the grass and watched them .

Big brother looking out for little sister (Mariah). 
I am a very organized person and I find that being organized makes things run more smooth. It blesses my husband tremendously. He tells me (verbally and nonverbally) how much he appreciates that I have everything that pertains to the home taken care of. He loves coming home to a clean house. He loves having everything he needs packed, organized, and clean. He loves that he does't have to think every detail through. He then is freed up to make sure the car works, the finances stay in order, we have a hotel room, and we have places to eat and go. It also is a GREAT thing I am exemplifying for my little adult-in-trainees! They are seeing the importance of all the Proverbs speaks about (planning ahead, working diligently, delegating tasks ect).

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