Hey, hey, hey! Today, Erika and I are kicking off a three part series where over the next three months, we’re going to share what we pack and how we operate when we head to certain destinations with our families. Once a month, I’ll share a destination and she will too and we’ll just let you in on any tips, tricks, dos and don’ts we’ve learned. We talk to people all day, every day at our travel agency, and one of the most popular questions we receive is about packing and just day to day “how do we…” for their trip. So, we’ll share our tips and then PLEASE SHARE YOURS TOO! This can be a great resource for all of us! Because isn’t the worst feeling ever arriving at your destination and realizing you packed all wrong and planned incorrectly? #travelfail #beentheredonethat
I’m kicking off our series today with a post about what to pack and how to prepare for CITY vacations and Erika is posting on what to pack and how to prep for SKI vacations.
Now, please forgive me because several tips will be suggested for multiple posts, but for the most part, this applies only to those fun city trips where you’re walking a ton and sightseeing a lot!
I would venture to say that city trips are my family’s absolute favorites…
Beijing…just to name a few 🙂 .
City trips always keep us entertained, teach us things we didn’t know and show us this great big world outside of our little bubble in McKinney, TX. We have a whole big list of cities we want to visit. We LOVE city trips! But…the last thing you want to do is go on a city trip only to realize you didn’t pack correctly or prepare yourself. Here are things I never leave home without when packing for a city vacation along with some other tips…
1: Comfortable shoes. It begins and ends with comfortable shoes. I’m all about cute shoes. I love cute shoes. I could wear cute shoes every day of my life…except when I’m on a city trip. You need practical shoes on city trips. If your vacation includes a lot of walking (which so many city trips do), then you have to wear comfortable shoes. And not just you…but your entire family! You don’t want to be five steps into your trip only to hear your kids whining because their feet hurt. I think more about my footwear when packing for these trips than anything else. And along with comfortable shoes, you have to add a box of Band-Aids (or two) in your suitcase too…because blisters will take you down on a city trip :).
2: Memorize that weather before you leave. I love the Weather app on my phone. I’m one of those weird people who check it 18 times a day because I just love as much up to the minute weather as I can find. Before a trip, I check that thing RELIGIOUSLY. I am checking for three things: heat, rain, cold. I don’t want to over-pack, but I also don’t want to be trying to walk outside from A to B in my tennis shoes when what I really need are my Wellies because it’s pouring outside. If it says rain is a possibility, I pack my Wellies. If it says cold weather, I pack my Uggs. If it says a lot of heat, I pack light colors and light fabrics. I pack for the weather because I do not want my trip ruined because my feet were soaking wet and freezing just because I didn’t think to pack my rain boots.
In their Wellies in the rain in Norway.
I also check the weather because as a mom of little ones, I need to know whether or not to pack these too…
…ponchos and stroller covers. Now, there are nice versions of these and then there are less-expensive versions and I always pick the latter. I like to buy mine off of Amazon for next to nothing and then, I don’t feel bad about throwing them away and not bringing them back home with me (because have you ever tried to pack a wet poncho before???). These are life-savers when traveling in the rain. Just because it’s raining does not mean we don’t want to sight-see, it just means we need to take an extra step or two to keep ourselves dry. I will also pack umbrellas for the whole family (as you see in the Norway pic) because being wet can ruin a trip.
3: Know where you’re going before you get there. Words you would NOT use to describe me: spontaneous, relaxed, care-free, go with the flow…nope. I don’t claim to be any of those things. And you know what? My personality works well on these types of trips 🙂 . If you’re going to a city to see sites, then I think it’s smart to plan a little of that in advance. We always write out the days of our trip on a piece of paper (like Monday through Thursday across the top) and then write down what we want to do on the trip on another piece of paper (like visit the World Trade Center memorial, Times Square, The Empire State Building, etc). Then, we move things that we want to do underneath certain dates. For instance, we might put “visit the World Trade Center memorial” underneath Tuesday. Well, at this point, we know we will be in lower Manhattan, so we need to find anything else on our “need to see” list that’s in lower Manhattan and move it to that day too (so we aren’t going back and forth across the city like crazy and wasting time). By doing this, we have a good bearing on where we’re going and what we’ll be seeing so that we’re maximizing our time. This also helps us tremendously with what to pack. Knowing where you’re going can guide your packing. Broadway show? Might need pants and a sweater even if you’ve been wearing shorts all day. Going to see the Yankees play? Baseball cap and sunscreen are a must. Knowing where you’re going helps you pack!
4: Don’t over-book your trip. I learned really fast with small kids that it’s better to do less and enjoy what you’re doing than to cram a ton into a day and be miserable.
Visiting Amsterdam with Kensington (22 months) and Smith (6 months).
As you’ll notice from our trip to D.C. two weeks ago, we did a lot…but not everything. We don’t want to be rushed, we want time to enjoy what we’re seeing/doing and we want to stay in the moment instead of hurrying off somewhere else. Did I really want to see the Vietnam War Memorial? Yes. Were we able to squeeze it in? No. And that just has to be okay. I’m glad we enjoyed where we went and appreciated the time that we spent there instead of just breezing through things just to check it off some to-do list. I think quality over quantity wins for city vacations.
5: Make dinner reservations in advance. Do you use Open Table? It’s a website where you can easily make dinner reservations in other cities. We use it all the time! In larger cities, sometimes it’s harder to find places to eat on busy evenings (especially parties of six like our family!), so we try and find places to eat before we head to the city and make reservations in advance. I look on Pinterest, read blogs and other places online to find restaurants and then book through Open Table. The good news is that if we stumble on some other place that just looks divine while we’re on vacation, it’s super simple to cancel our dinner reservations through the website. So, it allows for flexibility but also guarantees us a place to eat if we don’t see somewhere else we’d rather stop.
6: Pack essentials (but not too much) when you’re out walking. When we’re out and about, I try to have the essentials on us, but at the same time, I don’t want to be weighed down by a giant bag while we’re sightseeing. These are our essentials: wallet, sunglasses, antibacterial, baby wipes (because they do a million things), Band-Aids and phone charger (because if it dies, you want to be able to charge it!). Of course, if it might rain, we’ll throw our umbrellas, ponchos and stroller covers in there too.
7: Think about transportation. With four kiddos, we plan our trips around transportation these days. So many big cities have a subway/metro system and that is SO HELPFUL! It’s also easy to line up cars (with car seats) and drivers too for longer trips (like from the airport to your hotel). If we rent a car for a big city trip, we always rent car seats from the rental car agency. This way, we don’t have to take our car seats with us to the airport (because we do not need one more thing to lug around!).
8: Take two strollers. I know you’ve noticed this before…but we always use two strollers instead of our one big one…
…for us, two umbrella strollers are better than one. Here’s why:
1. You can divide up. Sometimes, Andrew will go one way and I’ll go the other and it’s super simple to just divide and conquer.
2. They take up less space. They’re easier to maneuver through airports, restaurants, hotels, stores, crowded streets…smaller is just easier to handle.
3. Sometimes, we only need one. Maybe if we are heading out just to dinner, then Ashby can walk and Madeley can ride, so we can leave one stroller behind in the hotel room and aren’t forced to take the giant one.
4. They don’t have to sit next to each other. I can only say the phrase “stop touching your sister” so many times per vacation…if they’re in two separate strollers, it cuts down on that BIG TIME.
Okay, so those are some of my tips for city trips.
Now, here are things I pack every vacation:
1. Baggies (both large and small). They corral items, they hold stinky items, they keep things organized, they’re good for trash…the list goes on and on.
2. Trash bags. For dirty laundry. It keeps your dirty stuff away from your clean stuff.
3. A lint roller.
4. A portable charger for iPhones (because sometimes, you just cannot find an outlet to charge your phone and you need it charged.)
5. Band-Aids, Band-Aids, Band-Aids.
6. Fingernail clippers and tweezers (because sometimes, you just need these things!)
The good news about a city trip is that…you’re in a city! If you forget something or need something, you can almost always find it. That’s the blessedness of a city vacation, resources are within your reach.
Now, it’s your turn! Tell us your secrets for a city vacation. I know you have tips!! Share please!!!
Now, right now, our city destination vacations are limited to current clients only…but if you’re a new client and are interested in a vacation by Mix and Match Travel Agency, we are offering our services to Walt Disney World, Mexican all-inclusives, and cruises sailing to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
Clearly, my little family loves to travel…and in our opinion, city trips just cannot be beat! I can’t wait to read through your comments and see your tips too!
Don’t forget, you can check out Erika’s post for Unpacking a Ski Vacation HERE.