Thursday, April 5, 2012

Packing for Vacation, a.k.a My Personal Hell

Is there anything more fun in life than packing family up for a vacation?
Hmmmm… let’s see… I can only think of about A GAZILLION THINGS.
Taking a vacation used to be so easy. C and I would wait until the last minute to pack our bags, because it was something that could be done in less than 15 minutes. I’d fold my clothes into my luggage, put my toiletries into their separate compartment, figure out which shoes to bring, throw in a few books or magazines for reading during my “down time” (ahhhh… “down time”. I remember it so well….) and Voila! Done! Baby, I’m ready to hit the road!
Last night I had to pack my bag and Emmy’s bag for the upcoming holiday weekend. I am pretty sure it took me seventeen hours to get us “prepared” (prepared is in quotes, because I still have a sinking feeling that  I forgot to include some very important items). By the time I was done with the whole ordeal, I was panting, sweating, and trapped under a large suitcase, with a pair of Emmy’s pants wrapped around my head.
In order to make packing a more pleasant experience, I told myself I would come up with a packing list for future family trips.  If I were to base this list on the rationalization I employed during last night’s packing session, here is what the list would look like:
·         849 diapers. Yes, it SEEMS like a lot for only three days away, but you NEVER KNOW. Em could always develop a bad case of diarrhea, or dysentery (wouldn’t that make our vacation enjoyable). Discovering we have run out of diapers while our daughter is nekked and running around our hotel room screaming is never a fun time, so it is best to err on the side of caution.
·         45 “bottoms” and 67 “tops”. Let’s face it. Because I am a mama, I have no time to check what the weather is going to be like during our vacation. So we must be prepared for anything mother nature might have in store. I pack tank tops, t-shirts, long sleeved shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, and onesies, as well as skirts, shorts, leggings, jeans, and snow pants. Thank goodness, each piece of Em’s clothing is only about 3 inches long, so I can fit her entire wardrobe in one suitcase.
·         Emmy’s favorite hoodie. Because even when I dress my daughter in her fancy “holiday dress” with her dressy tights and patent leather shoes and her hair done in cute little pigtails, she is going to insist that she ALSO wear her favorite (and my least favorite) ratty, filthy polyester striped hoodie. “It just completes the look, mama. Why are you so FASHION ignorant??”
·         8 pairs of shoes and 32 pairs of socks. Because Em is kind of obsessed with taking her shoes and socks off at the most inopportune moments, and I only notice she is hobbling around with one sneaker thirty minutes after the other shoe/sock combo has been misplaced, never ever to be found again.
·         1 toothbrush. I should really be packing at least 6 toothbrushes, because Emmy loses toothbrushes more often than she loses her temper (which is actually pretty often). But I feel like no matter where we are staying, there is likely to be a CVS or Walgreen’s within a stone’s throw, so we can always pick up another toddler-appropriate toothbrush. And in a pinch, I am not afraid to douse my finger in toothpaste and use that as a makeshift tooth cleaning tool.
·         Overflowing basket of toys. This is the part that gets me the most nervous, because predicting what Emmy is going to want to play with is akin to predicting winning lottery numbers.  I try to include a variety of toys, including stuffed animals, dolls, balls, interactive weeble wobble house, puzzles, etc. Of course, as soon as I pack a laundry basket full of Em’s toys, she wants to play with ALL of the toys I have gathered together. I had to repack this basket about 19 times last night. It was a blast.
·         Bedtime ritual paraphernalia. Emmy’s sleeping habits (or lack thereof) continue to be a huge issue in our house. She gets up around 93 times a night to breastfeed, and sleeps in 20 minute intervals (if you and I ever get together, please don’t tell me about your three month old sleeping through the night. I will cry). The only thing we HAVE been able to establish is an initial bedtime ritual, which includes a lamb that makes soothing ocean sounds, a stuffed giraffe, a pacifier, and several lullabyes. In order to make sure I get at least 3 hours of sleep a night while on vacation, I must bring all of these things along with us.
·         Snacks. Because Emmy’s growth-spurt-induced eating binges can strike at any time, and when they strike, I’d better be equipped with SOMETHING she can eat. I like to be prepared with yogurt bites, crackers, and fruit pouches. I feel that these options are much healthier than buying her a spur-of-the-moment Mocha Latte at Starbucks.
·         Tylenol/Ibuprofren. Because I just KNOW Emmy’s teeth are going to start killing her the minute we get on the highway, with 274 miles of driving ahead of us. And I would rather not leave my daughter screaming on the side of the road.
·         I take the contents of the most recently completed laundy and dump them into a suitcase. I zip up the suitcase. I cross my fingers that there are enough pairs of underwear to get me through the weekend (which means I have to be extra careful when I sneeze). I hope that on this vacation, I will run into strangers that I will never see again, and/or relatives that will forgive me for looking like Mary Kate Olsen. Throw in a brush, eyeliner and mascara, deodorant and a toothbrush. Done.
I know my methods of preparation need work, but luckily our next family vacation won’t take place until August. I figure that gives me plenty of time to refine my lists, thus reducing my pre-vacation anxiety.
Or better yet, maybe I just won’t UNPACK from this vacation.
Do you have packing tips you would like to share? Would you like to send me YOUR family packing lists? Please??


  1. OMG! This is awesome! I HATE packing! My husband packs 5 minutes before we walk out the door and I swear it takes me a week to get my kids organized and then I always forget that I should probably pack too!

    1. Thanks so much for replying! My husband is a five minute packer as well, and he fits everything he needs into a backpack! How is that even possible?? Yes, I spend about 8 years packing for my daughter, and then I am so exhausted by THAT process that I just throw my belongings in the air and hope they land in a suitcase :) Nice to hear from someone who can relate so well to my pain!