How My Family Gets Ready for a Trip


I love to travel, and don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like.  When my family does go on a trip, I do all of the packing for all of us, and most of the other preparation.  I’m usually the one who plans the trip, arranges for a dog sitter, and oh yeah, explains to my husband why we indeed do need to actually leave the house and go somewhere (he thanks me later, usually).

So, after the trip arrangements have been made (lodging, transportation, directions, etc.), I secure a trusted dog-sitter for our beloved Kensi.  She’s an older dog and needs to have someone come and stay with her overnight at her house (no kennels).  I’m lucky to have a handful of reliable, dog-loving sitters I can call.  The sitter comes over, I give her the key, and we go over all details (what and when to feed Kensi, how to use the TV remote, etc.).

Next, it’s time to make “the list.”  Even though I’ve made the basically the same list numerous times, I need to remake it over again each trip.  Needed items could change, you never know.  The list includes EVERYTHING we need to pack and bring.  It’s broken down according to each family member and has a “general” section for stuff we all (or more than one of us) use (like sunscreen, vitamins, phone chargers, wine, wine opener, etc.).

Then, it’s time to pack.  This is the most time-consuming and stressful part of trip prep.  I run around like mad when I’m doing it.  How soon in advance I start packing depends on where we’re going and for how long.  Usually, for shorter trips, it’s the day before we leave.  I start mentally planning prior to that though.

Kensi sees the luggage and knows we’re leaving.  And she doesn’t like it.  So, she watches my every move and follows me everywhere – to the closet, to the suitcase on the bed, to the closet, to the suitcase on the bed, and so on.

I set aside the outfits we’ll be traveling in.  I then fully pack for my daughter (she’s the easiest one to pack for).  Then I pack the easy stuff for my husband and me (underwear, socks, nightwear, and swimwear), and then the harder stuff (clothes, shoes, accessories).  At some point I need to ask him what belt and shoes he plans to wear.  It’s always the brown belt (it’s good double-check), and some combination of sneakers, brown slip-ons, and flip-flops.

The hardest part is packing my clothes.  I may have some idea of what I’m going to want to wear (I’d been mentally preparing for a few days by now) but I’m not completely sure.  I can’t really be sure exactly what I’ll want to wear until I’m there.  So, I always over-pack for myself.  My husband almost always tells me I’ve over packed, to which I sometimes reply something to the effect of if he can do it better, why doesn’t he pack for everyone, you know, something philosophical.

The toiletries don’t get packed until the day we leave (after we are finished getting ready); however, I do put the toiletry luggage on the bathroom floor and toiletry case on the bathroom counter the day before to get it ready.

Then, it’s time to pack up the car!  This is the second most stressful part of trip prep.  I check every room in the house to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.

I write a note for the dog sitter.  My daughter decides she needs to pack up a bunch of toys to bring on the trip (this wasn’t on my list).  She finds a bag (or, I do), and she hunts around the family room grabbing whatever toy she can find (which she’s never going to play with while on the trip anyway) and stuffs it in her bag.

Kensi looks very sad as we tell her goodbye and put her outside.  I tell her we won’t be gone long and she’ll be OK.

At some point I realize my husband is missing.  I finally find him over at the neighbors’ house casually chatting away.  After I pry him away and remind him that we are indeed leaving to go on a trip, we return to our house and verbally go over the list again.  Everyone uses the bathroom one more time (my daughter says she doesn’t need to go, but, lo and behold, after I insist she tries, she does).

I do a final inventory and check off every item on the list, do a final once-around the house (to make sure I didn’t forget anything), and we’re off.

And we have a fabulous time!  And when we get home from our trip, Kensi is happy to see us!

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