At my core, I’m very Type A, so careful planning is always important when I’m doing anything – especially when it comes to travel! I’ve always been this way, but especially so since having kids. There are so many more things to remember to bring (especially when they’re babies) and trust me, you don’t want to forget necessities when traveling with little ones. We’re really excited to get away for a trip to the mountains since it’s been several years since our last fall getaway. This will be our first time exploring the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee since we always visited the mountains of Virginia when we lived on the coast.
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Though we are usually making trips to the beach to visit family, every trip has certain elements that remain the same, so I wanted to share how I prep when it comes to planning for a trip. Keep in mind, these are the things I do after the trip is already booked.
Packing Meals and Snacks
When planning for a trip, we’ve found the best way to travel is to pack our snacks and meals, because it saves so much time and money and it ensures we can eat healthy and not arrive at our destination feeling gross from junk food and sodium overload. About a week out, I brainstorm ideas and add any items we need to our weekly grocery list (I use the Out of Milk app to keep track). A few of my go-to’s include:
- Deli turkey
- Protein bars
- String cheese
- Tortilla chips + hummus
- Trail mix
You can check out all of my healthier snack ideas in this post.
We also pack a case of bottled water for the drive. I usually prep the sandwiches and trail mix the night before and I’ll go ahead and peel the oranges, too, to make things easy!
Print a Packing List
Crossing things off a list is essential in order for me to feel organized. It also keeps us from forgetting something (which is pretty much inevitable with two little kids running around). I like to include every single thing down to the number of shirts and pairs of socks I need to pack for the girls. I actually created a printable packing list so I don’t even have to think about things we need to add before a trip – I can just print a copy and start packing! Download a copy and use it as inspiration to build your own 🙂
List Things You Need to Do Before Leaving
You guessed it – another list. Often, there are things that you need to do or errands to run before you leave and the best way to keep track is to list them out. I go a step further and mark everything in my planner, so I can ensure I have time to knock everything out. The type of things I’m thinking of include:
- Setting up mail hold while we’re gone
- Taking care of any vehicle maintenance
- Filling up the car with gas
- Returning library books
- Cleaning out the car
- Cleaning up the house (I hate returning to a messy house!)
- Running and emptying the dishwasher before we leave
- Washing and folding laundry
Strategically Pack Your Vehicle or Bags
Whether you’re flying or driving, you know your kids will inevitably need #allthethings during the trip. Save yourself some trouble by carefully packing the things that everyone will want en route – think electronics, food, drinks, books and maybe a jacket or blanket. We put the bottled water and food behind the driver’s seat so I can reach it while my husband drives. We also go ahead and set up the iPad and an old iPhone when planning for a trip (with pre-downloaded Netflix shows – another favorite tip!) so the girls can watch whenever they’re ready…which is usually as soon as we get in the car for our trip.
Get Plenty of Sleep Beforehand
This one is especially valuable for the parents out there – for some reason, vacations are so much more tiring than I remember before kids! 😉 We try to head to bed earlier than usual the entire week before our trip…easier said than done most of the time, but it really does make a lot of difference when you’re driving (or even flying) for hours. I’ve found the best way to stick to this is by scheduling out my day strategically and getting as much done as I can so at night, we aren’t stuck with a mile-long to-do list. Also, cutting off caffeine earlier in the day helps me – I’ve been known to have an afternoon cup of coffee from time to time and it really does keep me awake at night if I drink it too late in the day!