I know we haven’t been on the road for long, you know, enough to share our expertise and all that, but we’ve had our share of mistakes, so I’m here to share them with you.
The mistakes we’ve made in our first months traveling full time with kids
- First of all, don’t over pack. Our round-the-world packs are compact enough because I read enough articles on how to pack light. But, you know, for the car trip… I mean, the car is going to carry the load, all we would have to do would be take the stuff to and from the car. Easy enough, right? No, my friends, it isn’t. Once you take the stuff from the car, we also have to unpack them – put things in the fridge, in the bathroom, in the bedrooms…. and then, everything back in its bag, and every bag on its place in the car. We were taking around 40 minutes to load and unload the car. Seems little enough, but when you’ve just driven for 4-5 hours, and it’s snowing/raining and the kids are grumpy and you’re grumpy…. these 40 minutes last as long as one entire year.
And, to make matters worse, we do it nearly every week.
We reduced our load by half on our third week and it was just great. I mean, who needs a projector? We can all watch the videos on the TV, and if there isn’t a TV, we can watch on the computer.
- Get organized. Put everything on a list, it can be on a notepad, on your computer, your phone, wherever, and CHECK IT REGULARLY. It’s a lot easier to check on your schedule in the morning or before bed, be sure to have everything you need to carry with you than stopping by the post office and see that you brought the postcards but forgot the gift you wanted to send out. Going out again might be viable sometimes, but at other times, it just isn’t.
Because you’re not in your home, where you have the places for everything. It takes time to get used to the new house, the new places, the new routine. It’s easier to have everything marked.
- Check the kids’ got their bags. Especially if you have little ones, be sure to check they are carrying what they’re supposed to. Coral (4) was supposed to take a little bag with all the toys she would be taking to the trip, her money and her tablet. I don’t really know when she did it, but she threw it away. I’m pretty sure she asked me to carry it and I was stressed out or something and told her to carry it herself or put in the trash. She chose the later. We only found out a few days later because the boys were playing with their Pokémon cards and she asked for hers. She told us right away that she had thrown it out because I told her to. She’s still dealing with the loss of her favorite toys – and so are we. Luckily, her tablet was in my handbag and she didn’t have much money. So, really, check they’re carrying what they’re supposed to.
- Keep things tidy. I’m not a tidy person. I’m the kind of people that take clothes off and throw them around, leave bag and contents everywhere and all that. Every time I need something, I spend a lot of time looking for it. It doubles when I’m in a strange place, like when we’re traveling (all the time). And, of course, it doubles up packing time. Not fun. Really. I’ve realized that by keeping things in its place, we live with less stress. Of course, folding clothes and putting them away where they’re supposed to be after laundering makes me feel like I’m losing some precious time, but it saves a lot of stress every time someone needs a new undie.
- Don’t overdo! I’m the person who “needs” to see it all because who knows if we’re ever coming back, so trust me. I know it’s hard to choose what to do and what to leave out, but choose what you must do no matter what and, well, the rest will be done/seen if we can and want. Sometimes (a lot of times, actually) staying at home watching a movie and baking a cake makes a better day than going out to 5 different sightseeing spots with tired kids. Now that we’re traveling full time I really try to aim to 3-4 activities per week. If we can, we put more stuff in, but if we can’t, then, maybe next time. When we were having holidays, I used to place one rest day after 3-4 days of activities. The rest days were absolute rest, meaning no restaurant, no changing clothes, no putting on shoes. If you overdo, chances are you’ll end up spending more than you’d like and kids will mostly not be happy.
- Take photos of your kids. We’ve been to a lot of different places and I feel the urge to take photos of the amazing places we’ve been – and then, when I’m looking through the photos, I see landscapes and little tiny people, my people, their backs to me, far away. It really doesn’t matter where you are, or how amazing that landscape is, my kids will never discover that place again, they’ll grow, and they won’t be the same tomorrow. They change a lot more than the sunset. Every time I go back to see the photos, the ones I love most are always the ones that have them, the ones that bring me the memories of the chats we had that day, the laughter, the discoveries, and their greatness.
- Lastly, ENJOY!!! I mean really enjoy. Even if the weather’s bad, the sicknesses, everything. We spent way too much time organizing stuff, trying to make a new routine, trying to do and see and make the kids happy and the learning going that we were stressing out and not really having a good time. By the last 2 weeks, we learned to let things go and we’re having much more fun.
I think that’s enough for today.
Let me know in the comments what travel mistakes you’ve had!