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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Helping Your Kids Pack for Vacation

Before you start packing for vacation, do some preliminaries first:

1. If you are flying, check with your airline for current luggage allowance/weight and carry-on restructions.

2. Count how many days you are going to be gone (including travelling days).

3. Knowing how often each child is likely to spill something or get dirty, add an appropriate number of outfits.

4. Consider where you are going. Check the weather ahead of time, if possible, so you know if it will blazing hot, rainy, or have some cool temps. My first trip to Montana in May required me to buy a coat, closed shoes and long pants for the snow!

5. Make a list for each child and for yourself or a generic list which can be used by everyone. Whichever you choose, each person should have a list. Create your list on your computer, so you won't have to reinvent your list for every trip - just update it, if needed. We used to travel quite a lot, and having a packing list kept us from forgetting important items.

With list in hand, each child can put together the appropriate number of outfits, including socks, underwear, hair accessoriies, and jewelry as needed. Have your children stack each outfit on their beds so you can check to see if they match and don't have holes or stains.

Armed with gallon ziplocks, place each outfit, socks, underwear, and accessories in one bag. Squeeze all the air out to save room in the suitcase, and mark the bag with the child's name on it. Sure makes it easy when it's time to get dressed - the entire suitcase doesn't need to be rifled through to find an outfit for each child! And you don't end up at the end of the week with non-matching outfits.

Make sure you leave one outfit out for the day you begin your vacation. :-)

For those with children still in diapers, you can toss an extra set of clothes in the diaper bag and use the ziplock for soiled clothes if needed.

Have a backpack for each child in which they can pack items to entertain themselves. Make sure they realize they must carry their own backpacks so they don't overload them and make them too heavy. I always tried to purchase some small toys, games or activity books - one for each child for each day - so they would have a surprise to look forward to and reduce the boredom factor, especially on long car trips. Bring along some Dramamine just in case someone might have a tendency to get carsick.

I aslo tried to have some car games in mind to make time go faster - alphabet/sign game (look for letters of the alphabet on road signs), 20 questions, etc. One summer my brother and I made a list of all the Dairy Queen, Dairy Marts, Dairy Kings, Dairy-ettes, etc. on our vacation. We could rattle them all off for years afterward!

Audio children's books are a lifesaver! We listened to many children's classics on our long trips - Tom Sawyer, Gulliver's Travels, etc. Children's music is also fun. And if you have a DVD player in the car, it makes time fly. Just don't overdo it - you want to have some quality time as you travel with your family.

If your children are old enough, buy a small scrapbook for them to fill with postcards and mementos of their trip. Buy them disposable cameras to document their vacation adventures, if you wish. Or bring along crayons or markers so they can draw pictures of their activities each day.

Happy travelling!