5 Tips Every Mom Needs for a Spring Break Getaway!

Cover Shot
Image via MomOf6

If you are thinking about packing up the car, buckling up the kids, and heading someplace warm for spring break this year, you'll need to first have a plan. Not only a destination and a hotel reservation, but also a game plan of what to pack, what to buy or rent when you arrive, and what to leave behind. This post will get you ready to head out on your family's spring break getaway!

The-Have-a-Great-Trip-Packing-List
Image via MomOf6

#1. What to Pack: Clothing/Accessories

When it comes to clothing needs, part of your packing plan will need to be based on whether or not you'll have access to laundry facilities while you are traveling. When at all possible, I prefer to rent a condo or a vacation unit with a washer and dryer right in the unit or at least a laundry room nearby. Now while I don't like to spend my leisure time doing laundry, it sure helps to reduce the amount of clothing I need to pack if I can plan to do laundry once during the trip.

For a seven-day warm-weather vacation, I will typically pack for each of us:

4 t-shirts
4 pairs of shorts
1 polo/dress shirt for boys, 1 dress for girls
4 pairs of underwear/socks
1 sweater/sweatshirt
1 pair of pants
1 pair of PJs
1 rain jacket
1 swimsuit with swim shirt and/or cover-up
2 pairs of shoes (sneakers and beach shoes/Crocs)
hat and sunglasses

I also pack a pop-up hamper (when traveling by car) or a large plastic trash bag to collect all of our dirty clothes as we wear them that I can use to haul everything back and forth to the laundry room.

*You can download a copy of the above packing list here on MomOf6.

Pack by Day1
Image via MomOf6

#2. How to Pack: Clothing/Accessories

When most people pack for a trip, they tend to give every person his/her own suitcase and have them fill it up with what each person needs. But I prefer instead to pack by day. So I have one bag dedicated to “Day 1” clothing, and every family member's items go into that bag. This makes it much easier to leave other bags in the car when you are staying at Grandma's so that you are only tripping over one suitcase at a time. And if your trip calls for a one-night stay in a hotel room along the way, you only need to bring one bag into the hotel that night.

I think that packing by day also makes it simple in that you've pre-planned each outfit for each family member rather than allowing them to rummage through their own suitcase and pull out any t-shirt and shorts, leaving behind a horribly mismatched outfit for Day 4!

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Pillow and blanket1
Image via MomOf6

#3. How to Pack: Toys, Games, and Diversions

Every family member gets one backpack that they can fill up with electronic items, books, small travel games, paper and pencils, deflated soccer balls, etc. The rule is that it all needs to be able to (neatly) fit into the backpack, and they have to be able to carry it themselves. Creating the boundary of size and weight allows the kids to edit what is important to them and make their choices wisely.

When traveling by car, my kids often want to be able to take along a pillow and a blanket, too. I am fine with that, but they know that they are then “stuck” traveling with it throughout the trip — they can't hand over their pillow at some point to Mom and think that I am going to hang onto it for them!

baby on a plane
Image via Flickr/ Janus Bahs Jacquet

#4. What to Buy, Borrow, or Rent When You Arrive

This is largely a factor of how you are planning to get to your destination.

Traveling by plane?
If you purchased a seat for your child on the plane (they aren't riding on your lap), AND you have the energy to deal with it, I highly suggest that you consider traveling with your own car seat. Most car seats today are airline approved (look for the words “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” printed on the car seat itself), and the airlines will allow you to take the car seat on your flight. You strap the car seat to the airline seat and then strap in your little one and they feel as safe and secure just as they do while riding in your car at home. But the real bonus is that you will not need to rent a car seat along with your rental car when you arrive, which can be costly over the course of a week-long trip. I found that the easiest way to haul a car seat around in the airport (along with your children and carry-ons) is to strap it to a luggage cart, which can be stored in the overhead compartment during your flight.

Traveling by plane also means that you won't be able to easily take along your pack-n-play, portable high chair, bouncy seat, and the 375 items you use at home on a daily basis! So find out what you can rent at the hotel, or even borrow from a family member if you are staying at Grandma's during your vacation.

Traveling by car?
You certainly have more options to take along more of the comforts from home — as much as space allows in your car!

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Heading to the beach?
I strongly suggest that you consider buying inexpensive sand toys at the local grocery or drug store when you arrive and leave them behind when you check out. Hauling these bulky items can take up a lot of space in your vehicle/luggage and can make quite a mess when you bring all of that sand home with you!

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Image via Flickr/ nick v

#5. What to Leave Behind

Anytime you travel with kids, it can be sooooo easy to overpack. Especially if you are planning for every little contingency: What if they get a cold? A splinter? Need an extra blanket? Another sweatshirt? Lose their beach shoes or swim goggles?

But the reality is, unless you are traveling to a largely undeveloped country, chances are that you will be able to buy all of those contingency items IF you need them, right where you are staying. Do I travel with a small first aid kit? Of course! But I don't come prepared to handle every single possible ailment that could come our way. I know there is always a CVS/Walgreens within driving distance of where we'll be.

Also, be thoughtful about the number of games and toys you are taking along. Most of the time, I find that my kids don't play with the board games we've brought from home or even most of the sports equipment because they find other novel interesting things to do where we are staying that we don't normally have access to — like that wide sandy beach, shuffleboard courts, and silly games they make up at the pool.

{ MORE: Toddler Travel Bed: What Works Best? }

Where are you headed on Spring Break?

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5 Tips Every Mom Needs for a Spring Break Getaway!

My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. People often ask me "How do you do it?" I tell them that my key to success lies in planning ahead, with a whole lot of creativity and organization thrown in! ... More

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