Since vacation season is upon us, I wanted to share with you our compiled packing list and suggestions for visiting the Outer Banks. Or, really any beach, or place that you will be staying for a full week in a house (rather than a hotel room).
This list will be broken down into section posted throughout the week and then will have a full checklist at the end of the week.
Today I’d like to share with you just some tips and tricks we have leaned in our many years going to the Outer Banks, things I have learned from others, things I have picked up from other blogs (I will try to give credit as I remember where these ideas came from), and things that work well in every day life, that can totally apply to a vacation away from home.
PLAN AHEAD! I will mark these items throughout the posting week with ***. A lot of money can be saved if you plan ahead on certain things. There WILL be things you forget. It’s inevitable. But there are a lot of things you can do well ahead of time to help.
- Make lists. You certainly are welcome to use my list. That’s what I am doing it for! But what I suggest is that even a month before hand, either print my list out and write in different things that you think of, or start writing your own list.
- Whether you are going with others or not, it is a good idea to decide on a general meal plan. If you plan to eat out all the time, then don’t worry about this step. Sit down yourself, or get together with the other families and make a meal plan. Make time for it. You’ll be glad you did. Our normal routine is that we take care of our own breakfasts and lunches for our family, and then as a group we decide what we’re doing for dinners. Some years we have assigned different families to dinners, other years it was a group effort every night. Either way search the web for some easy recipes. Crockpots are all the rage for vacations now since they are so simple to use, and super easy to clean up if you get the new disposable liners.
TRAVEL: I have found SO many good ideas for traveling. I like to think I am a pretty creative person. But man, some of you guys have got this figured out!
- *** (plan ahead) SUPER smart idea. Great for kids, great for grown ups! There are just times when our cars do not have enough storage pockets. Especially while traveling.
- Snacks. I’ve seen a lot of interesting ideas on this and have narrowed it down to what will work best for our family. The idea is to use an old baby wipes container and put in small PACKAGED snacks (one per kid/family member). And be a nice wife and make one for your husband (who likely will be head driver) as a thank you.
- Have a trash bag easily accessible in the car. In the past we have just used old grocery bags and put the handle around the stick shift in the car. It’s worked great. Make sure you have a lot of them available. We often use them a lot while actually at the beach too. There’s a REALLY great tutorial on how to roll bags up here. Yes, it takes time, but you will thank me later.
- ***Make yourself a car first aid kit. This is great to have ANYTIME, but is a necessity when you’ll be away from home. You can either leave it in the car, or take it in the house with you. But believe me, it is your insurance policy. If you have it, nothing will happen. If you don’t, you’re going to have problems. Obviously, tailor it to what your family needs, but the idea is genuine.
- Have a ‘catch-all’. This is an amazing idea. And I don’t know why it never occurred to me to do something like this. The idea is, you bring along a large bin, laundry basket, whatever. Use it for your last minute things in the morning before you leave (toothbrushes, blankies, stuffed animals, hairbrushes, etc), for your things-I-just-passed-and-forgot-about-but-absolutely-need. One that you can very easily take into the house with you. It’s also great, while there, to throw toys in, laundry, whatever. Yes, it takes up more room. But I think this is a necessary evil.
- Whether you are a morning person or not, I suggest you leave EARLY in the morning. You WILL run into traffic either way. Obviously, use your own judgement. If you live 2 hours away, it makes no sense for you to leave at 3am. Keep in mind though, that you are not going to be the only family traveling to the OBX on a Saturday or Sunday morning, especially in peak season. This is also good for the kids though, as they sleep a lot of the first half of the trip. True, you have to wake them up, and likely pack them in the car in their jammies. But I promise you, you will thank me later.
KIDS: This will be our first time traveling with A. We’ve gone on a few short weekend trips, but nothing this big. She will be 15 months old when we make our first trip. And since she is super laid back and just an amazing baby in general, I’m not really all that worried about the drive. BUT, I’m not going to ‘wing it’ either. Read on.
- ***My first suggestion on the kid front is this: PREPARE. As if I didn’t say it enough yet, right?
- ***I’ve seen a lot of mommy blogs suggesting to have ‘presents’ wrapped for your kids and every hour give them something new. C and I are not really of the type that we want to give presents all the time. But this might just have to happen. I saw these great ‘activity boards’ made for kids, and although I will have to tailor it more to A’s age, I think there could be some ‘presents’ that go along with this. I’ll post as I work on and finish that project
- ***Another great suggestion I have heard is to get together with a close friend and toy swap. Take your kids toys that they aren’t really using or playing with and swap with a friend. Their kids get new toys, your kid gets new toys, neither of you spend a dime. This is great year round, but especially great when going on a trip. Much longer entertainment when it’s a toy your kid hasn’t played with yet.
- ***Bring cornstarch. Let me explain: There is a theory out there, (and though I have not yet tested it myself, I know others who have and have had wonderful success) that using corn starch on sticky, sandy kids, will magically get all the sand off of them. DON’T use baby powder. I don’t know why baby powder is even still on the market. There are ingredients in it that cause respiratory difficulties in babies/kids.
- *** (Plan WAY ahead on this one) Get a plastic sled. You know, the super crappy ones we had back in the 90s. The ones you can buy for 5$. MUCH better than renting one of those beach buggies. They slide on the sand easily. You can sit your (young) kids on it, put bags on it, coolers, etc. And you can probably even drag it on the sidewalk/road. It will likely make a lot of racket, but it’ll be a heck of a lot easier than carrying bags on burnt shoulders. And if you use it so much that a hole wears in it? WHO CARES! You didn’t pay that much for it! They’re also flat, so throwing it in the bottom of the trunk is pretty simple.
WHEN YOU GET THERE:
- ***This is something that I cannot stress to you enough: Plan your first couple of meals ahead of time, or plan to go out. A lot of the rentals on OBX are Saturday/Sunday turn days. If you go on Saturday EVERYONE will be at the grocery store the same time you are. If you go on Sunday, not only will all the Sunday arrivers be there, but the shelves will be picked clean. Do yourself a favor and just plan to go on Monday. Obviously this takes a lot of planning on your part and will add even more to your already packed car, but you will be so glad you skipped the grocery store for a few days.
- And another thing I cannot stress to you enough: DO NOT skip my section on household items to bring. Since you won’t be going to the grocery store for a few days, you’re going to need a few things to get you by on the home front. Make sure to read through this section carefully!
As I said before, I can be slightly neurotic about planning and organizing. But in my past experience, it has helped us ALL immensely. Especially with kids, you can never be too prepared!
More to come tomorrow!