There is so much talk about eating seasonally. Why not take that same approach to…
It’s going to be that time of year again soon… spring break! Since this feels like the first real spring break we’ve all been able to plan for in quite a while, I thought I’d share some tips for anyone who’s feeling a little rusty.
Maybe the most important thing to keep in mind as it approaches is the weather. Which has been crazy this time of year. Remember weather is something you are traveling FROM, TO, or THROUGH, and bad storms can pop up anywhere. Keep an eye on the forecast and always make Plans B & C in case something happens and your flights get delayed or canceled. Make a list of potential alternative flights or another airport to fly into that you can rent a car and complete your journey. Do this now when it’s just an exercise and not a stressful reaction.
Spring Break for Families: General Tips
1. Double check what your accommodation offers.
Always double check what your accommodation offers in terms of toiletries and extras. Nothing is more annoying than not packing something you think the hotel will have only to show up late at night, and it’s not in the bathroom. And always know if there is an indoor pool to pack the suits. These are parent gold!
I’d also triple check what a hotel’s breakfast offerings are. So many hotels these days no longer offer complimentary breakfast or no longer offer an open restaurant with a breakfast buffet. This may not be obvious until you try to go eat your first morning there!
2. Clean-up your house before you leave.
Have everyone put all hands on deck to do some light spring cleaning before you leave. This way you all come home to a nice, fresh house and the transition back into normal life is much smoother.
Tips for Families Who are Flying for Spring Break…
1. Keep up to date with the weather forecast.
Spring break always falls at that funny time of year where you could get the most beautiful sunshine or you could get a cold front that has everyone wondering why they left their winter coats at home. Not to mention, snowfall has been bonkers this year! Who would’ve thought Yosemite would be dealing with shoulder-high snow in March?
2. Make sure you have at least one outfit to keep warm in
Besides the weather at home maybe taking a turn for the cold, airplanes and airports are often kept chilly as well. Even if you’re planning to go somewhere tropical like the Florida Keys or British Virgin Islands, make sure your kids have a light winter jacket or fleece to wear. Also mittens and a hat don’t take up much room; toss them into your suitcase just in case.
3. Try to pack carry-on only
If you can swing it, pack carry-on only. This goes doubly for anyone with a connecting flight. I think we ALL remember those horror videos and photos of suitcases just stacked up at airports last summer. I know this can be difficult with smaller kids, but the more you can fit everything into a smaller suitcase, the smoother your entire flying experience will be.
Think of it like this. Someone who has a bag to check-in, has to wait in the baggage drop, TSA, and baggage claim lines (and if you’re flying internationally, you also have customs lines). If you’re flying carry-on only, you only have the TSA line.
If you need help packing like a pro, just check this post for how I manage it.
P.S. Just so you know, formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, and baby/toddler food (including puree pouches) are allowed to be over 100ml or 3.4oz in a carry-on.
4. Make sure you know about the Family Assist Security Line
All major airports have some sort of special assistance or family assist security line. These lines were made for people who need extra assistance and have LOTS of gear whether it’s wheelchairs or strollers. If you don’t see one, ask an employee.
5. Take advantage of those LOOOONG terminal walks
Nothing is more stressful than a fussy toddler or antsy kid on a flight. Take advantage of long terminal walks to make sure your kids stretch their legs and tire themselves out. The fun thing about airports is that there’s usually so much going on whether it’s popping into different stores or people watching, so there’s plenty to keep kids entertained. To make it fun, play a game of airport eye spy!
6. Bring your own food and a water bottle.
Lines at restaurants or food kiosks can be long enough that you may not have time to wait and get something to eat. Be sure to bring your own food and snacks so kids don’t start entering that hangry mood somewhere thousands of feet up in the air. I also recommend bringing a water bottle since most airports have some sort of refillable system now.
7. Practice patience and make the best of it.
Not to be trite, but it’s always a good idea to remember practicing patience and trying to make the best of any situation. What’s that saying? We can’t control everything around us, but we can control how we react. Being impatient or getting upset and angry doesn’t improve anything, but it definitely makes everyone a little more uncomfortable.
For example, on our family trip last summer to Colorado, we had to wait THREE hours for our car rental. Now, that could’ve easily been three hours of us all being grumpy and irritable. However we, with many other families in our same situation, just made the best of it. We had food and books to help keep everyone entertained; my son even took a nap on our luggage. Kids pick up cues from us on how to handle situations and tend to follow suit.
Tips for Families Who are Driving for Spring Break…
1. Pack a cooler full of food and drinks.
If you’re driving, stuff the biggest cooler you can find with all the food and drinks your kids love. It’s much easier to have them pull out some sandwiches and Capri Suns from a cooler in the back seat than to try to find somewhere to pull off and grab a bite to eat.
2 . Opt for places right off exits instead of Highway Travel Service Centers
Now when you do have to pull over, I always think it’s better to follow an exit rather than pull off in one of the Highway Travel Service Centers. I swear those centers are always packed or closed for construction.
Most major exits will have some restaurants, convenience stores, and gas stations nearby, and I’ve always found them much less crowded.
3. Prepare an emergency kit.
Whether you’re planning a spring break road trip for families or friends, you always want to have an emergency kit for your car. Safety wise, this means having flares, candles, and first aid kits. I also have blankets, extra winter gear, a shovel, ice melt, and non-perishable snacks like beef jerky and peanut butter. As I said above, spring weather can be really unpredictable!
4. Put together a list of great podcasts, books, or playlists you can all listen to.
Figure out how long your trip will be and put together a list of podcasts, books, and playlists, you can turn to to keep everyone entertained. Better this than spending time fiddling around while on the road to find something. My family loves Wow in the World, David Walliams’ Marvellous Musical Podcast, and America History Hit.
If you want to go the extra mile, pre-download everything in case you hit some dead zones.
5. Invest in a really good battery pack.
It’s always good to have a fully charged battery pack for those moments when you don’t have any outlets or need to charge devices on the fly. I carry a 24,000maH portable. It’s a small brick but it charges phones, earbuds, tablets, e-readers, AND laptops. It’s truly been a lifesaver.
Do you have any tips on planning a spring break for families? Let’s hear ‘em!
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