We leave for our first big family trip this week and already things are going wrong. The house is a mess (Ms. M is on her yearly holiday), Lil S has a fever, we all have a stomach bug with bouts of diarrhea (and toxic farts!)…and there’s something else, but I’ll just keep that to myself.
Of course all of this happened the week of our vacation. You see I’m actually to blame.
I only wait until the last minute because if I don’t, something always goes wrong. Like when I plan ahead to arrive early for a meeting or event, everyone else is always fantastically late.
See I know this about how the universe works. Which is why last December we did all our packing for our vacation to Cyprus the night before we left. Our house was in a frenzy, clothes were everywhere and Busy Dad and I stayed up late to pack everything. But nothing went wrong.
This time I wanted to try something different. I started sorting clothes and setting them aside 1 week before the trip. 1 week! The kids have been instructed not to touch the piles of clothes on the bookshelf. In fact, Big K ran out of shorts to wear yesterday and had to go to Spinney’s in his pajama shorts. Yep, that’s how I roll.
2 days after I started my vacation preparation, BAM! Lil S sprouts a fever and I finally caught the stomach bug everyone in the family already had (not to mention the unmentioned thing). See! I told you that nothing good can come of being prepared. It’s better to live in utter chaos until the very last moment…then you whip it all together and go!
It may sound like the easy way out, but I assure you it’s not (well, maybe it is, sort of). In fact it takes a lot of effort to perfect the timing of chaos-to-consummation. Even in this utterly stressful time, I’m not too worried because I believe that travelling with 3 kids is only as easy as you make it.
Here are some tips if you wish to perfect the art of chaos-to-consummation (and ultimately have a great vacation!)*.
* That was an unplanned rhyme, please don’t hate me for it.
Obviously packing for summer vacation is much easier than winter vacation. I chose our vacation clothes based on 2 things. First they must be easy to wash and second they must dry quickly. This really lessens the number of clothes you have to bring with you.
For our 2 week vacation, each of us are taking 5-7 tops and 3 bottoms. I think this is really reasonable considering we’ll probably change clothes twice a day.
All of Big K and Busy Dad’s tops are made from sports jersey material. The shirts are light, breathe well, wash easily and dry quickly. If you have boys, you MUST ditch the 100% cotton t-shirts and pack athletic gear instead.
For the girls I mostly packed dresses. At their ages we still have to carry spare clothes in case of accidents. Instead of having to carry 6 pieces of extra clothing (2 shirts, 2 shorts and 2 underwears), we only have to carry 4 pieces (2 dresses and 2 underwears).
I always choose either overnight or early morning flights. I’m talking about flights that are so early, it’s still dark outside. This way our kids can fall into their normal sleep routine when they board the plane. If they get enough sleep during the flight, we can roll off the plane and start our vacation with happy, well-rested kids.
My mother was a tour operator so I like itineraries. Having an itinerary makes you feel like there is a purpose to the trip. You never worry about whether you missed out on a place recommended by fellow TripAdvisors. Also, being a tourist comes second nature to Japanese people. I live for snapping multiple pictures of every monument, national park and cultural centre we visit. It’s in my DNA.
Unfortunately Busy Dad doesn’t believe in all that. He thinks vacations are for relaxing! As if we can relax now that we have to watch our kids all day and be at their every beck and call.
I understand where he’s coming from, but if we don’t plan ahead we’ll seriously end up wasting away our vacation. I am carefully planning the trip so that we have a free day after every full day. I think alternating planned activities with free days is a good compromise. We have some structure (ie photo ops), but enough flexibility to change plans if we want (ie more photo ops).
That’s it! With those 3 things in mind, I’m going to spend the next 2 days doing nothing towards getting ready for our vacation. Because really, what do I have to do that can’t be done at the last minute.