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Workin’ It Wednesday: Planning/Prepping for Your Summer Vacation

May 10, 2017

Hey everyone!  Happy hump day!  I hope you’re all doing well and looking forward to our next installment of Workin’ It Wednesday.  I’m linking up with Erika and Shay today to talk about Planning and Prepping for Summer Vacations!

We don’t have any big vacations planned for this summer.  I am sure we will venture down to Arkansas to see my family at some point this summer, but as for grand vacations, there are none on the books for this bunch.  I previously posted some tips for traveling with toddlers, so be sure to check those out if you missed it!

Let’s briefly talk about packing, shall we?  How many days does it take you to pack for a 4-5 day vacation?  I seriously need to know.  My husband always makes fun of me because I start the process about a week before we leave.  I have to mentally prepare myself, do several loads of laundry, update my packing lists, make sure we have the appropriate clothes and that they still fit our bodies, run to the store (usually multiple times) to pick up things that we don’t have or need to replace, etc, etc, etc.  He on the other hand, starts packing the night before we leave.  I usually have one large and one small suitcase for the kids and myself.  My husband grabs a small carryon, shoves a few items in it and calls it good.  It probably takes him a total of 10 minutes to pack, and for me it is hours and hours and hours.  Sheeeeeesh!

I also like to have my house somewhat picked up before we leave.  It’s one more thing to do, but I just really hate coming home to a dirty house.  It’s so much nicer to come home to a house that is semi-clean and picked up.  So, toys get put away, dishes are put in the dishwasher, papers are picked up, and beds are made.  Spotless?  Not exactly.  But if it doesn’t look like a bomb went off, then it gives me peace as I walk through the door.

I kind of touched on how I prep for plane trips in this post, so I’ll turn my attention to road trips.

Does anyone else feel like National Lampoon’s Vacation when you’re prepping for a vacation?  Road trips are slightly different than plane trips.  I bring so many more snacks on road trips and more activities to keep them busy.  We have more available space in the car than we do on a plane, so I take advantage of that and fill it up with things we MIGHT need.  Pretty much anything goes when we are taking a road trip…if they want to snack the entire 8 hours we are in the car, then so be it.  They want to watch 4 movies in a row?  Fine with me.  Keeping them happy and occupied is the name of the game!  We also have to plan frequent stops to not only go to the bathroom, but also get the wiggles out.

Speaking of bathroom stops, when I was growing up, we took an annual road trip to Colorado, and my dad did NOT like to stop for bathroom breaks.  I have many memories (not sure you could label them as fond memories) of having to pee in a large coffee can in the back of our van because he didn’t want to stop AGAIN for us to use the bathroom. This was not an issue for my 2 brothers, but it proved to be quite a challenge for me.  Maintaining my balance while hovering over a coffee can in the back of a moving vehicle is quite a talent!  Too bad those skills haven’t been super useful in other aspects of my adult life.  I have also had to use the restroom on the side of the road, with my father holding my hands while I hung my naked booty out of the open van door.  Did anyone else’s father despise having to take bathroom breaks?  Do I dare ask if anyone else had to pee in a coffee can?

I have not made my boys pee in a can (yet), but I do make them wear pull-ups.  I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I swear to you my son has the smallest bladder of any person under the age of 10.  If he has any sort of liquid, he has to use the bathroom multiple times.  Instead of having to stop the car every 10 minutes, he unwillingly wears a pull-up and it saves us from having to make quite so many stops. I don’t mind stopping and taking a break, but if we had to pull over every time he had to pee, we would never get to our destination!

Another thing my father made us do that I have also incorporated into our road trips is getting some much needed exercise during our pit stops.  We were forced to run around the car, or the restaurant, or gas station to get the blood flowing and get some energy out.  I make my boys do the same thing…jump up and down, do a silly dance, sprint back and forth.  Anything to get them moving before they have to sit for another long period of time.

 I LOVE these car seat trays for road  trips.  They have a strap to secure it around the back of the carseat, and an edge around 3 sides to prevent things from sliding off, so they are perfect for little figurines, crayons, and even legos.  Legos might seem like a poor choice for a car activity, but it’s actually been amazing for Chase (7).  I get him a new kit for each road trip and it keeps him busy for hours.  I think he enjoys having something else to do besides watch movies because he actually works on the lego kit first, and if he finishes before we arrive, he will start a show.  I bring some duplo legos for Beckham to play with and he also enjoys using them on his tray, along with his beloved tractors.

Trash seems to multiply in my car.  I’m pretty convinced there are little trolls who are secretly dragging extra trash into my car when I’m not looking because I try to keep it pretty clean, but then all of a sudden, we seem to be swimming in trash.  One thing that has helped tame the clutter of granola bar wrappers and stickers and bandaid papers are these car trash cups.  It’s super simple, but having a small, designated area where each person can put their own trash has really helped keep my car more tidy.  And road trip trash is on another level, so these trash cups are an absolute necessity!

Things I pack in the car:
*DVD Player / iPad / kindle and headphones
*Color Wonder markers/drawing pads (won’t stain)
*Lego kits
*Magna doodle
*Leap Frog Scribble and Write
*Sticker books
*Water Wow color books
*Plain notebooks with colored pencils or pens (good for doodling)
*Snacks, snacks, snacks
*Cooler with drinks, frozen yogurt tubes, cheese sticks, sandwiches
*Easily accessible change of clothing for the boys.  If drinks are spilled or a pull-up overflows, it’s nice to have clothes available without having to dig through the suitcase in the gas station parking lot!
*Blanket and pillow if they want to take a nap
*Small figurines (army men, tractors, matchbox cars, superheroes etc)
*iPods / headphones
*Vomit bags.  That’s right, something to throw up in.  You’ll thank me later when you are prepared.

Well, that about sums up my tips on road trips!  Where are you headed this summer?  What packing tips or traveling tips do you swear by?   Share your secrets!  I need to know!!!

Tune in next month for Workin’ It Wednesday’s topic of Keeping Your Kids Entertained All Summer. We will have been out of school for 3 1/2 weeks at that point, so hopefully my boys will still be entertained and not BORED!

If you want to check out some of the past Workin’ It Wednesday’s:

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the links I have provided, I may make a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay but it does help me maintain my blog!

Niki French

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  • Perfectly Port May 10, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Love your lists and I totally start the packing and planning process a week ahead. So many people to prepare for around here. I also hate coming home to a dirty house. My husband also thinks I am crazy. I also come home and immediately unpack and start the laundry. Hope you have the best day and I am jotting down some of your awesome car ideas for kids! xoxo ERIN

  • Sarah Lin August 27, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    So you told your 7 year old son to pee in his pull up when he had to go?
    Not judging, just asking

    • Niki French October 13, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      Yes! He obliged, ha!

      • Sarah Lin November 18, 2020 at 9:43 am

        lol, how long did you do that?

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    I'm Niki, founder of Midwestern Mama. This lifestyle blog is a place where I get to share things I am passionate about with people like you! I love fashion, home decor, DIY's and easy meals, among other things. I'm so glad you're here! Read More


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