“Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show!”
This time of year definitely has me wishing I was on a beach, relaxing and soaking up the sun. Thank goodness I have a trip planned and I leave in exactly 2 weeks for Hawaii. This time, we are going to the big island because I haven’t been there before. February is the month of my birthday and it’s become a tradition that we go somewhere for my birthday but also so that I can replenish my Vitamin D so I can make it through the rest of the winter (although this winter so far has been really, really mild!)
Sunshine, beach and warm weather just seem to make me feel like smiling more 🙂
Now when I talk about relaxation, bear in mind that while I will relax, this time we are taking our kids, so the relaxing may take on a different perspective than when it’s just Brandon and I. We have some really fun excursions planned: Whale watching, snorkeling at night with Manta Rays, hiking to the volcano, and I really want to do some sea kayaking and paddle boarding. I have a rule that I like to have a beach day after an activity day, just so I can read my book and just generally sit down and decompress. I may be the only one in my family that likes to do that so I have to make sure we are keeping everyone happy (quite a task with 6 very different personalities).
So when I’m planning my trips, I have always been a little more “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of girl, but Brandon likes to have an idea of what we’re doing. So, here’s the compromise, we plan around 4 activities that we know we’ll all want to do, leave a few days open for whatever, and then set aside my beach days. That way, we are not scrambling with the Concierge trying to book things and end up missing out on some good stuff, and also I don’t feel like I am rushed and scheduled to the hilt (which is pretty much like work to me).
The most important things I consider when I am planning my trips and what I am going to take are:
- Packing list – before I travel I always write down the “essentials” that I know I don’t want to forget. Have you ever arrived at the airport or your destination and almost broken out in a cold sweat about something you need but forgot. I remember once when we were packing for the kids and turned up with extra pairs of shorts for the boys but only 1 T-shirt each. Not the end of the world, but if money is tight or even if you don’t want the hassle of shopping, a packing list could have prevented this. Or, even worse, if you’re traveling abroad, have you ever arrived without the necessary visas or your passport? Talk about ruining a trip!
- The weather – not that any of us can control this (trust me I have fought with the weather before because I would get frustrated and upset when it wasn’t what I wanted it to be – I realize that is the craziest thing ever). It’s better to be prepared than frustrated…I always take some things such as raincoat, sweaters and other layers just in case.
- Suitcase size – over the past few years I have organized my travel in such a way that I am able to take just a carry on suitcase and so has everyone else in my family. The reason why I love this – because there’s no waiting when you get off the plane, everyone is responsible for their own stuff (I would say we started this when Reiken was 8, so kids can handle it too!)
- Toiletries – I use different beauty regimens and they don’t all come in the 3oz containers that you need to bring if you are not checking a bag (according to TSA guidelines). So, I always make sure for essentials like my masks, toners, etc, I buy some of the bottles that they sell at Target and other stores where I can put in my own toiletries just for travel purposes. That way I don’t have to risk taking something that is too large and having it confiscated.
- Planned activities – if we are going hiking (which is something I love to do anywhere I go), I always make sure that I have sneakers and I’m not just taking flip flops or sandals. I hate to limit myself and my activities by not being prepared.
- Plans to eat out? – I have always been someone that likes to dress up when I go out to eat…so if we are planning on eating dinners out, I like to have something to change into that’s a little more dressy than a swimsuit and coverall.
- The right shoes – and we are not just talking sneakers here. I have certain outfits that look best with certain shoes, so I like to make sure I have a variety of shoes to choose from. I hate having a dress to wear or a great jumpsuit without the RIGHT pair of shoes. I’m not looking for perfection but I do feel better when I feel good about my outfit and my shoes are major piece in that puzzle.
- Workout time? – I always have to squeeze in some workout time when I’m on vacation. Not that I am running any marathons, but just a short run, long walk, gym time or even yoga are something I like to fit into the trip so I don’t have to feel guilty about eating all the amazing foods there are available.
- Beach/Pool time – I don’t like to wear the same swimsuit every day (even if I have a condo with a washing machine). Swimsuits don’t take up much room, so it’s really easy to fit in quite a few to add some variety.
- Use a Tote – I think all airlines allow you to have 2 carry on items, and one of those items is your purse or bag. I used to just take a smaller handbag but couldn’t quite fit everything I needed in it. Now, I pack a tote with my Nook, snacks, iPad, headphones, a lightweight jacket in case I get cold, a pillow, etc. and leave a little extra room for my bag/purse so that if I get called out on having too many things as carry on, I can just slip the bag/purse into my tote.
Whether you have a trip already coming up on your horizon, all of these tips will prove useful, no matter where you’re going or what you’re doing. I realize that not everyone goes on planes, and very often there are amazing road trips that create the best memories. Our family road trips have been amazing (although I will admit they were probably easier when the kids were younger), put on a movie, give the kids some treats and they’re happy. As they grow to be teens, there are many more opinions, arguments and disagreements, but that journey and life’s journey is truly what we make it. I no longer have expectations that everything will go smoothly…that the boys will always get a long – so I have found that if I don’t hold onto those expectations, I don’t have to feel frustrated when it doesn’t workout like I think it should (because you know it won’t 😉
Happy travels in 2018 and I hope you find my tips and tricks useful!