Calm the Chaos of Summer Travel
When looking back at my Calm The Chaos Sunday Posts from previous summers, I realized that I have shared very few vacation travel tips, tricks, or hacks as they are so often referred to these days.
I did share one packing hack that I still swear by. It comes from @brunchwithbabs and pertains to keeping your vacation outfits tidy whilst packing using an inexpensive hanging sweater organizer. The additional bonus to this hack, is that you no longer have to unpack. You just lift the sweater organizer out of your suitcase and hang it in the closet. Genius, right? Check out my favorite hanging closet organizer here.
But that is just packing-and mainly for a quick weekend getaway rather than a full-fledged vacation. But when it comes to summer travel, there is so much more chaos to calm than how you fit everything into your suitcase. They say the difference between a trip and a vacation is whether or not your kids are with you (LOL) but I think it’s all dependent on how you prepare for it.
Whether you’re planning a long road trip or flying across the world, with some careful planning and preparation, you can calm the travel chaos and ensure your journey is indeed a vacation. Did you know it’s been scientifically proven that 80 percent of the fun in a trip is in the planning and anticipation. In this blog post, we’ll go over some updated travel hacks for summer 2023 that will have you living vicariously through planning and throughout your vacation as well.
One of the most significant stressors when it comes to travel is booking your accommodations and transportation. If you wait until the last minute, you might have to deal with sold-out flights or overpriced hotels. To avoid this, book your flights and accommodations as early as possible. This will not only give you peace of mind but also help you save money. In addition, booking early can help you get the best deals on hotels, tours, and activities.
Research Your Destination
Before you go on your trip, research your destination. This will help you get a better understanding of the local culture, customs, and traditions. It will also help you plan your itinerary and activities. For example, if you’re traveling to an island, you might want to look into boat tours and snorkeling excursions. Additionally, you can research local restaurants and attractions to visit while you’re there. This is my favorite part of planning a vacation - creating the itinerary with well-researched gems and locally-inspired spots that may not be on the top 10 tourist list for your destination.
Use a Packing List
Packing can be a daunting task, especially when you’re trying to remember everything you need for your trip…..as well as everything your family needs if it’s a family vacay. To make things easier, create a Family Packing List. Beyond daily wardrobe essentials, this list should include those vital elements like your passport, medications, and travel documents. Make this list using whatever organization system you used from last week's post on staying organized for the summer. If that method is paper on a bulletin board, use that. If you are more of a tech family, use a shared document that can be accessed by everyone’s phone or computer. A note on wardrobe - during the research phase, figure out local style and plan accordingly but when packing, outfit-plan day by day to help keep you from overpacking. When my son was young and I packed for him, I used an old camp hack and had each day’s outfit (shorts, shirt, socks & undies) in gallon sized ziploc bags so he had everything he needed each day, and nothing he didn’t. This also helps tweens and teens learning to pack themselves not end up with nothing but t-shirts and a single swimsuit to survive a week on holiday.
Involve the Family in the Prep
And I am not just talking about the fun and exciting part of picking the destination. In addition to the Packing List, include your partner and your children in readying the house for your departure. This includes pausing services, striping beds before leaving, vacuuming, helping with extra laundry, and even coming with you to at Target to help stock up on bug spray, sunscreen, etc. Place both of these lists on your Command Center, and/or note them in the family calendar. Turn your Drop Zone into a staging area making sure everyone has enough outfits, their own bathing suit, swim goggles, flippers, or whatever else everyone needs on the trip. Color coded bags help everyone keep up with their own swag.
Use a Travel App
There are many travel apps available that can help you stay organized and stress-free during your trip. For example, apps like TripIt can help you organize your travel itinerary, while apps like Hopper can help you find the best deals on flights and accommodations. Additionally, apps like Google Maps can help you navigate your destination and find local attractions.
Enjoy Your Downtime
Airports are some of the most stressful places in the world. It might be a tall task, but try not to let that busy environment take hold of your trip. At some point, you’ll check to see if your flight has been delayed, respond to work emails or worry about that connecting flight. Along with those needed tasks, reserve similar time for some calming activities. Savor your downtime by listening to some music or reading a book. If you’re an anxious traveler, give yourself a few deep breaths before embarking on the journey ahead of you. Consider a meditation app such as Headspace to help guide you through a calming exercise.
Give Yourself Extra Time Before and After the Flight
Since everyone’s tolerance for patience is different, you should be sure to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your plane departs. It might seem tempting to get some extra sleep or run an errand before the flight, but it also could create a time crunch and add stress - trust me on this one… one missed flight too many!. This cushion allows you to take that time for yourself, whether that’s relaxation in the lounge or a cup of tea before the flight.
In recent years, airports have made it difficult for everyone to get through security and get checked in. So, as a passenger, you’ll barely have enough time to have your bags checked and arrive at the terminal for your flight. This lack of time probably means you won’t be able to accomplish the previous two items on this list. As such, you should arrive plenty early to make for a less stressful day.
And a word about an oft-overlooked oops for travel ease… mind your weight. Your luggage weight, that is. Nothing worse than checking that bag only to be told it’s too heavy. An extra collapsible duffle tucked inside an outside luggage pocket will come in handy for this or for all those souvenirs you bring home. To avoid this snafu altogether, invest in a handy luggage weight and check yoself before you check your bags.
Take Lots of Vacation Photos BUT Post Them After You Return
I am not going to tell you to put your phone in a drawer and don’t look at it for two weeks. It’s unrealistic seeing as how your phone is also your camera. What I am suggesting is to limit your time on said device. This is easier if you wait until you return home to post your pics.
If you start posting them on the socials now, next thing you know you are clicking on THAT headline, article, or ad. You start seeing the notifications of people liking and commenting on your #vacapics, as well as on other posts, so you start to respond. Next, and without realizing it, you click on the email icon because you noticed how many messages were pending…and since you looked at your personal account, you might as well take a peek at your work one….and just like that, you have been sucked out of vacation mode and into real life. So stay present this summer and wait until you are home to post those photos. The adulation can wait and helps prolong the vacation feeling.
One final tip… give yourself a buffer day. Re-entry is a b*tch. It helps to have a day at home before being thrust back into real life. When I was young I didn’t get this or need it. I’d book the last flight out the night before I had to be back at work, or sometimes a super early flight and go straight from the airport to the office. Not anymore. The way to savor the peace and relaxation of a vacation is to bring it home with you, and take a day to decompress, unpack, enjoy the memories, open your stacked up mail, and pick up the pet you may have boarded. Coming home from a vacay can be just as stressful as preparing for one so be kind to yourself and ease back into reality.
In conclusion, summer travel can be a breeze with a little planning and preparation, and the right mindset to truly hit the pause button and enjoy your down time. From planning and packing to being present, I hope these tips come in handy for you this summer and beyond. What are some of your favorite travel hacks?
And check out a few more of my favorite summer - and beyond - travel products.