Thursday, January 31, 2013

Preparing for a Trip

My role as a mom is always a bit more real when we travel. I'm the one who needs to make sure we bring enough/the right clothes. I'm the one who needs to make sure we have all the necessities on hand. I'm the one in charge of the travel documents. I'm the one who needs to foresee whatever we may need for the duration of the trip. I'm the one who needs to have everything prepared. I'm the one who stays up late to make sure everything is packed and nothing is left behind. I'm the one who gets stressed! Local trips are easy enough but international travel is always more difficult and requires a lot more preparation on my part.

My first concern (and one that takes me days/weeks of preparation time) is clothing. I make sure the clothes we have are appropriate for the weather and for the activities that we will be doing. It doesn't help that I'm a bit neurotic when it comes to clothing. I have to know exactly what each of us (well, me and the girls. Jojo is in charge of his own clothes) will be wearing so I plan them days/weeks in advance. I write them down and list all items for each outfit (including accessories, bibs, face towels, socks, shoes) so when it is time to pack, I won't forget anything. I plan and bring 2 sets of clothes per day for Ally and Sofia. As for me, I bring one set per day plus an extra set just in case.

Another big concern is medication. I have to bring paracetamol and colds medicine as a precaution in case anyone gets sick during the trip. I also bring band aids, anti-mosquito patches and/or lotion and lip balm. I bring our usual daily vitamins and extra meds for Jojo's allergies. He is in charge of his inhaler for his asthma, but I still remind him the day before our trip, just in case. Then I put all our meds in a clear container so I can put them in my carry-on luggage (I never check in our medicines, unlike a certain local celebrity who made such a big fuss because her kid's medication was in her luggage which the airlines off-loaded, ayayay!).

Another concern I have when traveling is the children having problems adjusting to a place or whether they get bored or unruly. Which is why I bring a bag of activities and toys for their entertainment. I try to bring those that have maximum impact that would entertain the kids longer.

I am also in charge of our cameras, the iPad and our phone chargers. I make sure there is sufficient memory space in the cameras and that all our stuff are fully charged for our travel. And I have to make sure that we get good photos of our trip. This is where Jojo and I have different opinions - he is all for living and enjoying the moment and documenting becomes an afterthought; I need to take a photo and document each little event of our journey. Whatevs.

And I handle all our travel documents - the tickets, passports, hotel reservations, even our international health cards. I put them all in a small case and arrange them in order of usage. I also put a ballpen inside as well as the emergency contact numbers of the hotel and/or tour operator.

Aside from all these, I also make a rough itinerary of what we will be doing for the duration of the trip. I research interesting activities/places, how to get there, how much it will cost, etc. I try to plan a balance of activities that the whole family would love, which means kid-friendly places for Ally and Sofia, good restos for Jojo and shopping areas for me. It can be a challenge to get a good balance, I tell you. And of course, even the most well-planned trips experience hiccups and unexpected detours, so I make contingency plans, too. I try to make the plans as flexible as possible, but I also make some activities/places more important than the others.

And then, when all are packed and we are on our way, I get so stressed worrying about what I might have forgotten or missed out. Seriously, I have so much to think about while preparing for a vacation that it somehow lessens my excitement for the trip. But when our trip goes smoothly and hassle-free, I get an extra sense of accomplishment, as if I'd accomplish something majorly huge.

How about you? How do you prepare for your family's vacations?

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