Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lists... are they worth it?

Not only does my family like to take road trips once a year, we are also huge into camping. I note this because it was during one of our camping trips that I fell in love with the "packing list". I always figured that if I thought about it, and then packed as I go then I would be fine. Well, as often in life, I learned that the hard way, it doesn't always work that easy. We went camping in the middle of July and although this is Canada, we do get HOT summers ;). However this July was not the case. I thought I had packed enough cooler clothes for all of us, but it turned out I packed extra cooler clothes for my son, and not anything for my daughter. So after a trip to the local WalMart, $25 later... I had clothes for my daughter. Something that could have easily been avoided had I made a list, and followed it.

Why didn't I use a list? Part of it was laziness, and part of it I figured we go camping enough, surely I can remember to pack everything that is needed. Well after each child that "mommy brain" syndrome has not cleared up, it has gotten worse. So, now I have a packing list on my computer, for each "event". 
  1. Alabama Packing List
  2. Camping Packing List
  3. Going to Grandma and Grandpas Packing List
Many of the lists over lap, but some have special things that the other lists don't need. And the beauty of the computer? I just pull it up, print it off, and tackle the checklist one at a time. Yes there still is the odd time I forget something, or think "I need to get that later", but with the lists these happen farther and fewer between.

Other lists that I use for travelling, are ones for their "In the van" bag, and the baby gets a whole different list checking off his diapers, formula, food, bibs etc. as these are items that change depending on the age of the baby.

Ok, I will be honest, and say that I do not ALWAYS follow the lists. There are also times I go back into the path of "I'll remember" and just pack on a whim. Well, I will also admit, that it is these times I end up forgetting something.

For those of you out there who can do it without a list, my  hat goes off to you. Please tell me your secret! And for those of you who use different ideas, feel free to share, I love learning new ways to be prepared packing wise. Admittedly my first camping list came from my EXTREMELY organized friend, to which I revamped for me, the less organized individual...

What sort of lists do you use when going away?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How do we travel with such young children?

Many people ask me, "How do you travel with such young children THAT far? Lots of movies?" 
When I tell them that we don't have a DVD player, then I really see the disbelief.

Are we really a dying breed? Us families who travel without all the luxury's of modern technology? The majority of the time we don't have the music playing either. And really, although the DVD player would give small relief, how is that supposed to entertain an infant?

Now if you are one of those families who do travel with a DVD player, please don't think that I am faulting you for it. I am a firm believer that many things can be good in moderation.  Our family just has not had the luxury of owning a portable DVD player, nor does our van have one installed. I have most certainly been tempted to buy one, or borrow, however my husband whom has done all the travelling since he was young strongly discourages it. So, that leaves us with coming up with creative and fun ways to keep the "troops" occupied during what can be long hours "stuck" in a van.

The first thing we do, in order to have a somewhat I say somewhat as there are many factors to consider when travelling long distances with kids, toddlers and babes... eg. traffic successful, carefree road trip is to remind ourselves that this is not going to be a successful, carefree road trip. And that it is not going to be a "relaxing, restful" vacation either. I have come to the conclusion, that once we started having children, my "time off" vacations went out the window. I would have to say that most times I enjoy this MUCH more, and the rewards are often far greater travelling with children, but there are certainly times I miss that "do nothing" holiday.

The next thing we do is plan beforehand. This may seem very straightforward and obvious, but for my husband and I this was a tip we could have used a few trips ago. Sure, the travellling down, and back up, were usually planned out. A visit to the CAA/AAA was usually in order, getting a TripTik to show us our route and where we may have wanted to tweak it abit. However there have been an occasion or two where we did not end up following the triptik to it's entirety if not at all.
But we are a "fly by the seat of your pants" type of travellers and so doing the full plan ahead was not really something we thought necessary. Now that we have done a few trips, we know better.

Join me next time as I give some tips and ideas on what could and/or should be planned ahead.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alabama Bound

Here we are nearing December and it's time for our family's annual trip down to Alabama. My husband has family who lives down there, and we enjoy going down to visit them.
We have always driven, and seem to travel the "old fashioned way" with no DVD players in the van. Just music, some off key singing and a lot of tricks to entertain the youngun's as we make the 16 and a half hour drive.
We have driven through the night, but usually we take a couple nights on the road. (It makes for less grumpy kids and one less grumpy Mama.)
I hope to give a few of these tricks within the next few weeks. One's I've learned from experience, as well as one's I hope to try this time.  I look forward to making this journey with you.