Today, Erika and I are sharing part two of our three part series where we chat about 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. Erika and I 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?
Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite tips/strategies for cruises and Erika is sharing all about Walt Disney World!
These are just a few of our favorite suggestions and ideas, but please, please, please comment and share yours too!!
Here we go, packing/navigating cruises with your family…
Now, I’ve been cruising my whole life, but I never considered myself a “cruise person” until last year. To me, cruise people were in their 70s with big visors on their heads, fanny packs and lived in a retirement village in Florida. I don’t know why, but that is the image that always came to mind even though I’d been on many, many cruises and never saw such people. #callmecrazy
But last summer, I realized once and for all that we love, love, love land vacations, but we do also see the value in cruising especially with a large family because IT’S SO AFFORDABLE! Cruising provides all the food and entertainment in one confined location while moving from port to port exploring the world. To do that with a family of six on land will cost you so much more. It’s also so much EASIER because moving your family from place to place and switching hotel rooms, hopping on planes/trains to get from one spot to another is just so complicated (and expensive) with a lot of people. So, to board a ship, unpack once, never have to worry about loading up and moving and yet, actually going from place to place, is SO NICE. Do I love land vacations the most? Yes. Do I see the value cruising with my family thought? ABSOLUTELY.
So, my name is Shay and I’m a cruise person. Someone hand me a fanny pack. Stat.
So, now that I’ve confessed that I am a cruise person, let me share my favorite packing tip when cruising with your family…pack your suitcases by days on the ship.
Allow me to explain:
Let’s say you’re going on a four night cruise with your family of four and you decide to take two suitcases for the four nights. I would pack half of everyone’s stuff in one suitcase and then the other half in the other suitcase. You and I both know, cabins on ships tend to be small, so the last thing you need is suitcases lying around and stuff everywhere…so, in this scenario, when we arrive, I would immediately, put suitcase number two away (probably under the bed to get it out of sight) and only unpack or open suitcase number one which has everything everyone needs for the first two days. Then after two days, I put all of the dirty clothes back in suitcase number one and shove that under the bed while at the same time removing suitcase number two and opening it for days three and four. Make sense?
I love this method for several reasons:
1. If your luggage gets lost, at least all of you have one suitcase with half of your things in it. (My parents went on a cruise just this past September with their best friends and the wife’s suitcase was lost for 5 days of the 10 day trip! Speaking as a travel agent, let me assure you, suitcases do get lost.)
2. You’re not cross-contaminating dirty clothes with clean clothes.
3. You save room in those small cabins.
When we went to Norway this past summer, we were on a seven night cruise (plus 3 days on land) with five people, so we had four suitcases divided between 10 days. So, one fourth of everyone’s stuff was in each bag and it worked out beautifully. Just make sure to include your necessities like toiletries/curling iron in bag number one and then I put miscellaneous things you may or may not need at all in suitcase number four (like umbrellas). I also spread out my books (because you know how much I love to read on a ship!) by placing one in each suitcase (it also helps spread the weight between the luggage too).
So, that’s how I pack for a cruise.
Now, here are some other cruising tidbits I have:
1. Make sure you have your passport. Almost all cruises require a passport, so double check that well before you depart. Also, make sure it does not expire within 6 months of departure. (So, if you’re leaving in July, make sure your passport doesn’t expire that October.)
2. Research your ports and the ship excursions before you leave. So many excursions book up before you even leave embark, so it’s always so wise to book those things in advance.
3. Bring a travel cup. One of my favorite tips is to bring your Yeti 😉 . Coffee, tea and water flows freely on board ships and you’ll notice that all of your veteran cruisers bring their own coffee cups/water bottles so that the can take drinks back to their rooms without always having to use Styrofoam cups and such. I know this tip sounds silly…but when you’re all cozy in your cabin with a good book and hot coffee in your Yeti, you’ll thank me 🙂 .
4. For most cruise lines, you need two cabins with more than four people (you can put five people in most Disney cabins), so if you’re a family of five or more, you need two cabins. There are a lot of creative ways to do this. Cabins (like hotel rooms) can come adjoining, so you can get two side by side. If you’re thinking “gee, I want a nice veranda but my two teens could care less”, then you can put them in an interior cabin directly across the hall from you (and pay one veranda price and one interior price). We also have families that take turns. Some nights, mom and daughters will sleep in the veranda room and then they’ll flip flop and for a few nights, dad and son will. At first, I was bummed when we had to get two cabins…but it is so nice having the extra space.
5. Most cruise lines offer complimentary identification bracelets for kiddos (not all, but many). There is a GPS device attached to these bracelets, so in the event that you cannot locate your kiddo on board, they can track them down. Make sure you ask about this!
6. You do not need a voltage adapter on almost all lines.
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!)
Now, it’s your turn! Tell us your secrets for a cruising. I know you have tips!! Share please!!! (And don’t forget to read Erika’s post on Walt Disney World too!)
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!
Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!!