How to Organize and Plan for Vacation

Tips for organized vacation planning

Going on an organized vacation has to be one of the greatest parts of life. Taking time to get away from the day-to-day to-dos is so important for every person and family.

Vacation is meant to give us time to rest and recharge.

But for moms, it can often feel like vacation is simply doing what we’ve always done just in a new location.

If a vacation plan isn’t organized, vacations can create even more work and can easily go from being enjoyable to downright miserable.

Life can be made easier and moms can actually enjoy vacations when plans are better organized.

The Benefit of An Organized Vacation

In my younger years, a spur-of-the-moment trip was fun and exciting. Packing a quick bag and heading out for the weekend was enjoyable.

But with three little ones in tow, those days of spontaneity are long gone.

The truth is vacation isn’t fun if people don’t have what they need.

By staying organized from planning through vacation, everyone in the family will be able to have a good time with minimal stress.

Tips for an Organized Vacation

The first step to achieving an organized vacation is to start off on an organized foot.

It is important to take some time to tackle each of these areas to make sure your vacation goes off without a hitch.

1. Create an Itinerary

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So often people want to start vacation planning by packing clothes. All too often the thought is to just throw into a bag, the same number of outfits as the days you’re vacationing.

Sadly this approach just won’t work when you’re packing for kids. As any mom can tell you, unless your child is a perfect angel, there is no way you will only need 5 outfits for 5 days.

Additionally, some vacations consist of more than one activity a day and require more than one outfit.

It is important to consider what each day of your vacation will consist of because from this plan you will decide what you are wearing and in turn what to pack each day.

Take some time to write out what your tentative plan for each day is and use this as a guide for packing clothes.

2. Begin Packing no Less Than 2 Days Before You Leave

When packing for a family WITH your family running around, time is not always on your side. Waiting until the last minute to pack will be stressful.

Vacation planning printable

Giving yourself time to create lists, wash necessary items, and/or purchase what you need will allow you to go into your vacation without stress.

3. Pack Based on Your Itinerary AND the Weather

Now that you have your tentative itinerary set, make a list of what each person will need for each day. Don’t forget to include outfits for travel as well.

Vacation planning tips and tools

This probably seems like a no-brainer but time and time again I hear stories of families traveling to a warm location only to forget they were coming home to cold weather or vice versa.

Make sure to consider the weather for all locations when packing clothes and shoes.

Additionally, if you are traveling to a place that involves water activities, dinners out, and excursions in nature you will need to make sure you pack enough clothing to provide an appropriate outfit for each event.

This might very well mean you are packing multiple outfits for each day.

Be sure to include weather-appropriate accessories such as sunscreen and sunglasses or winter hats and gloves.

Additional tip: Save luggage space by planning multiple outfits that can be worn with the same shoes. Shoes are bulky items and so the fewer you bring the less space lost.

4. Pack Using Packing Cubes or Zipper Baggies

Save yourself from having to rustle through a suitcase looking for things by using packing cubes or zipper baggies. Packing cubes come in a variety of sizes and allow you to group things together into smaller bags for easier packing. 

Zipper baggies are great for packing children’s outfits. Put together bottoms, top, socks, and undies and place them into the zipper baggie. Using a permanent marker write who the outfit is for and what it is for if you have a specific outfit for an occasion. 

5. Bring at Least Two Swimsuits for Everyone

If you are going on vacation centered around the water, it will be important to make sure you bring more than one swimsuit for each member of the family. This will ensure one can be dry each day.

This will also guarantee an extra suit in case of any potty accidents for little ones.

Additionally, don’t forget to pack multiple swim-safe diapers for the trip.

6. Lay Out Each Person’s Items Beforehand

As you begin selecting outfits for each person, lay out the items of clothing and double-check your list one person at a time before putting them into the bag. This way each person’s items are packed together and you can be sure you didn’t miss a thing.

7. Keep a List of Important Phone Numbers and Addresses

When traveling to a new place it can be stressful trying to find places to eat or stay on a whim. If you add children into the mix, trying to find a place to stay at the last minute can quickly ruin the trip altogether.

No matter how you intend to travel, it is important to have a plan for where you are staying and a general idea of where you will be going for entertainment and food.

Prior to leaving for vacation, fill out a list of where you plan to stay and visit. Include the addresses and phone numbers for quick reference later. You can either save the information in your phone’s note app or my Vacation Planning Printable.

If your plan includes traveling and finding a place to stay on the way, I recommend researching a few places ahead of time in a couple of cities along the way. This way you will have the information handy and you will know ahead of time what sort of options are available.

Having this information handy will save you time during your vacation should you need to contact the facility.

8. Consider an Airbnb Style Lodging Over a Hotel

When traveling with a family more room is almost always helpful. Considering that kids can AND will get loud and want to move about I can’t recommend enough staying in a place that provides as much space as possible.

We have had great luck with Airbnb and finding whole homes to rent. This allows our kids a place to run off energy without disturbing other guests. There is also a full kitchen where we can prepare meals.

Another added benefit of this style of lodging is access to a washer and dryer.

Even though, I mentioned above it can be hard to impossible to pack only one outfit per day, an exception to this rule is staying at a place that allows you to wash your clothes while you stay.

By staying at a place that has a washer and dryer you will be able to pack fewer articles of clothing and save yourself luggage space. This will be especially useful if your family is big or if you are traveling on an airplane. Less packed means fewer (if any) checked bags.

9. Establish an Eating Plan Ahead of Time

Tips for planning a family vacation

Is there anything worse than a tired and hungry child while on vacation? The answer is no! A child out of their element, who is hungry AND tired is an instant vacation-vibe killer.

When traveling with little ones it is important to have an eating plan.

You don’t want to wait until a child is hungry to begin making meal plans otherwise you are setting yourself up for a meltdown of epic proportions.

I can’t recommend enough going over your plan for each day and deciding how, where, and when you will eat.

If you find that there will be longer than normal breaks between eating or if you are visiting a place with longer wait times, be sure to pack snacks to keep the little ones happy and fed.

If you are hoping to have some spontaneity on vacation, research the area a bit ahead of time and have a list of possible places and their phone numbers. You might even take a peek at their menu so you know ahead of time what your little ones will be able to eat.

Without a doubt, make sure to pack plenty of snacks for your little ones. Having plenty of snacks makes sure little ones are fed and occupied in case of a long wait to be seated.

10. Consider Packing Meals or Eating at “Home”

During our most recent weekend getaway, I brought our Instant Pot and prepared our dinners in the hotel room. This allowed us to save money and time by not leaving the hotel to find a place to eat. Since we had our newest little one along, it was helpful not having to pack up and drag everyone out into the cold to find a place to eat dinner.

Consider what sort of events you and your family have planned for vacation and see if there are times you can pack a lunch or eat in your hotel room to save money.

Cold-cut, deli meat or PB& J sandwiches or homemade Lunchables paired with fruits and veggies make for a healthy, quick, and affordable meal on the go.

These sorts of meals are great for visits to museums, zoos, or parks.

11. Visit Locations at Non-peak times

When you are creating a plan for your vacation, take some time to visit Google and see what are the popular times for each place you want to visit.

Depending on the age of the children you are traveling with, you may want to visit some places on days or times of the day that aren’t typically busy.

This will give you more time to see things with fewer crowds to tackle.

12. Consider and Prepare Child-appropriate Entertainment

Young kids aren’t usually interested in sitting quietly in a nice restaurant or walking slowly through an art museum so picking things they will enjoy doing is important. Research the city you will be staying in and see what they have to offer for children. Many cities have zoos, museums, restaurants, parks, and more geared specifically for children. 

13. Pack a Travel Backpack for Each Child

Keeping kids entertained during travel is one of the hardest (or perhaps THE hardest) part about traveling with children.

Keep kids occupied by packing a small backpack with special things just for each child. 

Be sure that each child gets their own backpack and inside place toys and books they love, their favorite snacks, crayons and paper, and more to keep them occupied while you travel. 

Printable for an Organized Vacation

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Printables for a organized vacation.


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