Sometime in the future, we’re going on a small, much-needed vacation. And as much as I love it, traveling with a child is stressful. When you’re traveling with a little one, there is so much to think about, so much to plan, so much to collect, and pack, and remember.
And I know I’m not the only one.
I remember the newsletter story from an amazing woman who I follow on Instagram talking about their first trip she and her husband took with their daughter, who was barely four months old at the time. She spent so much time making sure they had everything for the baby, she forgot the basics for her, like a toothbrush, etc.
Even as we were trying to decide whether to take a trip, one tick in the “cons” column was the stress on my part. So, my goal is to find a way to make this whole situation less stressful.
In my last blog about travel, I talked mostly about how I feel anxiety before the trip even beings about the trip itself, about traveling, about safety, etc. This time, I’m talking about how to make getting ready for a tripless anxious and stressful for me.
So, what am I doing?
Making a List
I have a master packing list in Evernote. This is the list with absolutely everything on it, everything we could possibly ever need. It’s something I’ve done for many years, and when I was traveling a lot, it really saved me.
When it comes time to think about packing, I copy and paste the list into another note, then take some time going through it to add or delete thing things we need or don’t need for this specific trip. That way, I don’t have to spend extra time thinking up an entirely new list.
And notice I said, “think about packing.” This is at least a couple of weeks before it’s actually time to pack, because I know there will be extra things I remember we’ll need or I think we’ll have to take. This gives me time for them to pop up and for me to write them down.
Make a List of Things to Buy
At the bottom of my packing list, I make a list of things to buy. Snacks are usually one of the first things to go on the list. This time, the list includes a few books for the baby, plus some new shorts for her (we tried on all of the shorts from last year and none of them fit, sadly. So much for my hope that they would last two season), as well as host/hostess gifts.
Again, I make this one early so I can write things down as they pop into my head.
I always try to pack several days in advance. This is for several reason:
- I’m not desperately trying to remember everything as I run around, completely stressed out, packing the night before we leave.
- I have time to make sure that I did pack everything and time to add anything I forgot
- I just have a lot more time and that really helps with my stress level, especially since the toddler really doesn’t give me a lot of extra time
For us, the other big consideration is the dogs. They know what those suitcases mean, and they can feel my anxiety. By packing a few days early and even packing the car early, they seem to forget that we’re leaving, and they feel that I’m calm, so they don’t tend to freak out as much.
It’s important to note that also start packing before I ever pack. Sometimes I’ll make little piles of things or put things like medication bottles all in one place as we’re using them so all I have to do is put them into a bag. I also have a bag of toiletries that gets left in my suitcase, so I have a few things I don’t have to think about or spend time packing.
Make a Last-Minute List
Yes, I am the queen of lists. I have lists of lists. It gets kind of out of control sometimes, honestly. But I really couldn’t do without the lists on these blogs.
The last list I make is the list of last-minute things to pack. This includes anything you might actually need to get ready, like a toothbrush or hairdryer, or anything you sleep with, like a pillow or the baby’s sound machine, or even the baby’s stuffed animals. With a list like this, you definitely stand a better chance to remember everything the day you leave.
Breathing and Looking at the Big
This is probably the hardest part of packing, honestly, and something I’m really trying to work on, especially for this trip. I’ve been working so hard on deep breathing lately, or belly breathing, when I wake up in the morning, whenever I’m feeling stressed, whenever I realize my jaw and shoulders are clenched (it’s my default), and just whenever I remember.
Deep breathing, belly breathing, breathwork—whatever you want to call it is so important. I don’t know about you, but I really do feel myself relaxing when I’m taking deep breaths versus shallow breaths.
I’m also trying to look at the big picture. It’s a vacation, and I don’t want to be stressed. More importantly, whatever we forget we will either figure out how to do without or buy it while we’re there. Even my daughter’s medication can probably be compounded at a pharmacy there (don’t get me started on trying to find a pharmacy that compounds medication…).
So, after we’ve gone and come back, I will update you on whether I was able to keep my stress level to a minimum, and if I was, how low it was. And if I had any other anti-stress ideas pop into my head.
Until next time!