Who's excited for the holidays?? Ooh me! Me! pick me!
In my opinion, one of the best part of the holidays is traveling to see family that you otherwise don't get to see. But, it can also be one of the most stressful, expensive, and chaotic parts of the holidays…until now!
Now that we're a family of 5 with my hubby's business and my blog to run, 3 kids under 4, and a 110lb dog to work around, traveling is NOT easy for us. However, we have figured out some tricks that work for us that have made traveling for the holidays quicker, easier, and of course, cheaper for you too!
In my opinion, the most important part of traveling is what happens BEFORE you even leave your driveway. Here are some tips for seamless and effective trip preparation:
When you book a hotel room, flight, rental car, whatever it is, don't just accept that you'll “have to” pay top dollar around the holidays! Sure, you'll pay more than a random week in February, but there are always tips and tricks to follow – so don't accept the first price you find!
- For flights, learn the cheapest times to fly, and use sites like airfare watchdog to notify you of killer deals.
- Always book your hotel rooms online rather than doing it over the phone – online rates are almost ALWAYS cheaper, especially through sites like Booking.com (used it recently, loved it).
- Learn the cheap tricks for renting a car too, and always shop around for the best deal before booking anything.'
Being organized will make all the difference between an enjoyable holiday, and a chaotic one! Here are some of my favorite tips for staying organized:
- Make lots of lists. Grocery lists. Packing lists. “What to clean around the house before you go”, lists. Write things down because I promise…you will forget things otherwise.
We have created a free Packing Checklist Printable for you to help keep you organized! You can print one for each member of the family, and we even included a box to cross an item off before you leave…and to again when you pack up to go home – no more leaving things behind!
Some of my top trip prep to-do items include…
- Clean the car. Use a daily deal site or clean it out yourself. I can't stand to travel in a crusty car so I try to do that in advance.
- Make arrangements with neighbors. Pick up our mail, watch for packages, take our garbage cans to the curb, watch for suspicious activity, water our plants (if we had any…). This includes arranging a dog and/or house sitter far in advance.
- Clean out the fridge. I use up all I can the week of our trip and don't do any grocery shopping (we make do, or do without!), then I freeze anything left behind. If it can't be frozen, I pass it off to neighbors.
- Empty garbages. Nothing like a stinky banana peel sitting in your garbage for 8 days to welcome you home.
- Pull the suitcases out early. I pull out suitcases and start doing laundry on Monday. Put things you want to bring By Friday night everything was packed, washed, put away, and there was no last-minute scramble to find what we needed clothes-wise.
- In addition to suitcases, I keep buckets, bins, or baskets handy to toss stuff in throughout the week. This is especially great for road-trips. We have a bin for car entertainment (lots of ideas HERE), a bin for pit-stop necessities (diapers, wipes, changes of clothes for the kids), a bin for snacks, etc. When it's time for the trip, just grab the pins, and put in the car.
- Last year I arranged for cleaning ladies and carpet cleaners to come while we were gone! (Merry Christmas to me.) I left the checks/house keys with a neighbor, who let them in and locked up when they were gone. It was absolutely INCREDIBLE to come home to a spotless house. Plus, it gave a week for our carpets to dry fully before we walked all over them. I told my husband we're making this a new tradition! 🙂
- See more trip prep ideas HERE
We have created a free travel to-do list printable to help you organize yourself before your trip.
Access this printable HERE
Remember, the most important part of your trip is what happens BEFORE you even leave! So take the time to do it right, start early, and your trip will be smooth as silk…and just as enjoyable.