Blog: Traveling With Kids
Make it easy
My husband and I are always looking for ways to make traveling with the kids easier. Usually for my husband, that means looking for ways to get out of the door faster. For me it means remembering everything we need. In the years BK (Before Kids) we used to just grab our stuff and go. We didn't need a lot of stuff and I could guarantee a block of time just to concentrate on packing. Now AK (After Kids) we need more stuff and I rarely get more than 2 minutes concentrating on one thing before excited kids need me for something. We tried the just grab and go method a couple of times – it took a long time – we're talking a few hours here – and we kept forgetting things. We forgot blankets for Naomi once and ended up buying one half way to our destination. Silly! So we've done what we can to make things easier.
We love Ramona's practice of having ready made packs of things to go. We go car camping a lot during the summer, sometimes accompanied by whitewater kayaking. We have all our plates, billies, utensils, etc in a box ready to go. In there we have little containers for coffee, sugar, herbs, pepper and salt that we make sure are filled before we go. We have our toiletries all ready to go. Our kayaking gear is boxed up and ready to go.
But the system breaks down for us in two ways. We take a lot of stuff for the four of us. For instance, we like our 2 inch thick sleeping mats and Ian needs a traveling cot. Second, a lot of what we take is used by us every day. To be sure, we could have doubles of things, but our apartment is really not big enough to store all the extra stuff.
So we use lists. I made up a list for each cupboard or closet that we store our gear in. For each cupboard, taped to the inside of the door, there is a list for each of the items we need to take for any particular activity. So in the hallway closet where we keep the majority of our outdoor gear, the list is broken down into camping, kayaking, walking, and overnight trips. Some of the items are repeated in the different categories, but that really doesn't matter because when we go camping, I just look at the camping list.
I even have a list in the kitchen for our camping menu and the things we need for 1, 2, 3 or 4 day trips. I substitute out which ever meal we decide to have – usually macaroni cheese, spaghetti, or frozen left-overs (we like this – it keeps cold in the cooler and means no preparation which at the end of an activity filled day outdoors is very welcome.)
After all the lists, there are clothes and toys. This year I started to teach Naomi (she's just turned 4) how to pack her things. First we made a list of the things that she needs. It was done using pictures that she drew. Okay, some of the things didn't exactly look like the real thing, but the important thing was that she knew what the drawings represented. Armed with the list, she lays everything out on her bed or her couch to make sure she has everything (at which point I check it), then she puts it into her bag. This has varying amounts of success depending on her enthusiasm, but I figure it will save me time in the long run. We have a toy box for the car. It's small enough that it sits between her car seat and Ian's car seat, but big enough to hold a few books, coloring books and crayons, and a few other toys. She chooses the toys she wants to take and she gets to take only what will fit in the box.
These things do make it easier for us to get out of the house faster and forgetting fewer things.
posted on: 11/15/2007 1:00:00 PM by Katherine Macey
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Traveling With Kids
by Katherine Macey
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Katherine Macey, Ph.D., is a professional organizer who is passionate about helping people improve their lives and achieve their goals. She works mainly with academics in their offices and with residential clients in their home offices.
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