We travel pretty frequently. As someone who has distinct memories of a week-long near panic of overwhelmedness the first time we flew to Florida as a family (and that was just with Benjamin), I can say we’ve gotten this pretty well down to a science. It is something that gets better (and easier) with practice. We’ve learned what and how to pack. We’ve learned how to choose a great hotel and the most functional transportation for our purposes. We’ve learned that almost anything that seems like a major crisis (head injury at Edinburgh Castle, ER trip in the States, vomiting across England, child who cries all night on the sleeper train, all of our luggage lost on the first day of a 17 day trip) can be overcome, and will even be funny in hindsight.
Honestly, I feel like we’ve got a relatively expert handle on traveling with the kids. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take a TON of work to pull it off. For a week-long trip (or longer), I start packing and organizing at least 2 weeks before we leave. I strategize which clothes will wear the best (and longest), how to be efficient without being spartan, and how to cover our bases for as many weather situations as possible. (And, I’ve watched too many episodes of shows like “Survivorman” and “I Shouldn’t Be Alive”, so I secretly harbor an illogical belief that we could, on any trip, conceivably end up stranded on a snowy mountainside for days.) I prepare. I plan. I’ve gotten really good at it.
We’re going away this weekend. Dan has a day off next week, so we’re taking a long weekend and going to our favorite working farm outside of Salzburg, with plans to spend a day in Hallstatt, which we’ve always wanted to visit. It’s a short trip, so we don’t need a ton of stuff. We’ve stayed in this place before, so we know what they already have. We’re renting a car, so we have lots of flexibility with schedule and space (we only have to carry the luggage downstairs, and it doesn’t matter how many trips it takes). Also, the area where we’ll be has lots of shops, so nothing that we forget will be a major problem. This is a much easier endeavor than our usual long trips that involve train or air travel.
So, this time, Dan is in charge of packing. He’s been wanting to give it a try, and I’m enthusiastic to give him a chance (partly because I think he’d going to be a bit more impressed by how hard it is once he’s done it, and partly because he tends to create shortcuts I don’t think of). I made the hotel reservation and he rented the car (our usual duties) but he’s packing for himself and the kids, and I’ve made arrangements for Bailey (which is our switcharoo for this time).
There is no question in my mind that I won out on this deal (although that’s only because I typically do the proverbial heavy lifting in this equation). I started packing for myself yesterday morning and was shocked when I was mostly finished 10 minutes later. All of my stuff (including the snow pants I’m bringing, just in case) would fit in my medium-sized backpack with a fair bit of room to spare. I can pack the few things I have left (the things that have to wait until the last minute) in 10 minutes (or maybe less). I’m ready to go.
We leave tomorrow. The packing for the rest of the family . . . hasn’t started yet. I’ve done mountains of laundry, so Dan has all of the supplies he needs, he just hasn’t packed anything yet. There was a time in my life when I would have been stressed out completely at this point, and probably would have started doing it myself. But, not today! I know Dan, and I know that he will, in some way that seems miraculous, make this all work. I know it’ll work out. And I suspect we’re both going to learn something from this. (For instance, I already know that I don’t have to start packing 2 weeks ahead of time. It remains to be seen whether this turns out to be a superior plan, though!)