We are especially good at procrastinating when it comes to planning a trip in the first place. That trip to Morocco was booked less than a month in advance. We only decided we would take a trip about 6 weeks beforehand and spent a few weeks figuring it all out with our traveling companions. You'd think we'd get more organized once we had kids but our trip to India was even more last minute. We didn't decide to go until five weeks before the wedding. Our kids needed vaccinations and we all needed visas. I'm certainly not suggesting this is an ideal way to travel. That's just kind of how we roll around here. And that's my point... figure out what you, your partner/spouse, kids, traveling companions, etc. need before you start planning.
I have one relative (who shall remain nameless) who literally packs his suitcases two months in advance- you know, to make sure everything fits. We, on the other hand, might casually toss things into suitcases during the week before a trip, but we're frequently still shoving a last few things into a suitcase hours before leaving. Neither way is the right way. The key is to figure out what works for you and do all you can to make sure your needs are met. If you're anxious about traveling without having accommodations booked in advance, be sure you book them. If you're comfortable finding a youth hostel once you arrive, do that. If there are multiple people in your party, be sure to discuss all of this up front.
One shift that happens once you have kids is that you really need to stop and think about what your kids need. We know our kids need a schedule- that is, a clear and consistent time to eat and go to bed at night. So once we're on local time, we do our best to stick to a reasonable schedule. We also carry more snacks than we would at home in case we are delayed or find ourselves somewhere without food.
It's not that we never veer off the usual schedule, but we are thoughtful about when and why we choose to alter it. And, if our kids go to bed late one night, you can be sure they'll be going to bed on time (or even early) the next night. If not, we ALL pay the price. I can't very well get upset with my kids for misbehavior if they've been up late for several nights in a row or are melting down because they're hungry. Its my job as a parent to make sure their needs are met.
So while we are kind of loosey goosey in trip planning, once we reach our destination, we do our best to work within our kids' needs. That's the system we've found that works for us.
How about you? Have you thought about how different members in your family can get their needs met while traveling? What's your system?
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