Though traveling isn’t my favorite thing to do, I’ve come up with some ways to help it be easier. I do enjoy the destination, just not the process of getting there!
We travel for 2 main reasons: to see family, or to just have fun. Most of our trips are for the former reason, but the prep for both is similar.
When to Go
As a general rule, we try to use school breaks for our travel. Since my husband is a teacher who doesn’t work in the summer anymore, that means we have lots of days to work with.
Sometimes, the season matters if you want to have a pleasant time. When we planned a trip to Southern Utah, we chose October in order to avoid the sweltering heat. It was a good choice. The temperatures stayed in the 70’s the whole time we were there.
Going Somewhere New?
If you visit a new place, especially one where you don’t have family members, it can be hard to know what to do while you’re there.
I strongly recommend using Tripadvisor to plan your trip. Many Google searches in the past always led me to this website, so it’s my go-to. It’s user-friendly and will let you sort activities, restaurants, and hotels by rating, family friendliness, and categories. I used Tripadvisor to plan our trip to St. George, UT, a few years ago, and we had a wonderful time. With our kids’ ages, what matters most is that they get enough rest in between activities, whether it’s an actual nap or some time to sit and play. Walking all day isn’t an option in our family yet, so we have to plan accordingly.
Hotel or Airbnb?
Since we have a large family, we now choose Airbnb for our accommodations. It’s difficult to find hotel rooms that are large enough for all 7 of us and don’t cost a fortune. An Airbnb generally includes a kitchen, we means we can save money by making some of our food instead of eating out.
Packing and Cleaning
Once upon a time, about 11 years ago, I forgot to pack shirts and had to borrow from my mom the whole time I was visiting. Whoops. When we got home, I made a packing list that still serves us today (with some minor changes over the years, of course.) I’ve also included things like turning off the AC/heat, taking out the trash, or other chores that need to happen if we’re going to be gone for a while. I never forget things now!
I’ve found it helpful to create “grab and go” bags for toiletries and chargers. We have so many extra chargers anyway, so it made sense to put them in a box. Both are things that would normally be left for the last minute, possibly forgotten, but now I can pack them the day before without worrying about needing them the next morning.
It’s a huge pain, but I make sure to do all the laundry and cleaning (with my family’s help) before we leave. It is ALWAYS worth it to come home to a clean house!
Getting Your Car Ready
If you have an old car, or even if you don’t, make sure you have extra fluids like coolant, oil, and windshield washer fluid. Running out of any of these can be dangerous. It’s also great to have decent wiper blades and winter tires (when applicable).
Keeping the Kids Happy
Since our youngest is now almost 2, we bring devices, at least 1 per row, with downloaded movies. Every kid also gets a bottle of water. I used to refill cups to save a little money, but it was awful!
(More about traveling with kids.)
Dealing With Carsickness
One of our kids gets carsick, so we’ve found a setup that works well for him. Instead of playing games or watching movies, we give him an audiobook to listen to on a phone with headphones. He still gets sick sometimes, even when he’s careful not to look at moving screens, so we bring a #10 can with a lid. It really helps cut down on the smell.
If you’re going on a multi-day drive, consider packing clothes by day instead of by person. That keeps you from having to unload the car all at once. Dirty clothes can go back into the same bag.
Traveling can be stressful, but it’s a lot more fun when you’re prepared. Even if you don’t plan on traveling soon, why not plan a trip for the future?