Monthly Archives: July 2010

Today’s Tip: Pack It Up

I dislike packing so much, that I am not enjoying writing the topic very much either. Wait. Don’t go anywhere. Just because the topic of packing makes me a bit grouchy, doesn’t mean it’s not an important one to discuss. Behind every other travel tale I’ve ever written about on this blog, is a well-packed suitcase. Or two.

I was never good at packing before I became a mom, and my shortcomings were only aggravated when my little travel companion (along with all his kiddie stuff) came into the picture. But I had to rise above my inability to make a packing list, carry small suitcases, and bring enough pairs of socks. It has been a learning process, but I’m just becoming more of a packing ace with every trip we take.

I haven’t packed a suitcase bigger than a carry-on for each of us for the last few years, even for trips longer than 2 weeks. I know some of you are not impressed by this, since you can travel the world for years with nothing but a backpack. But for the rest of you who haven’t stopped reading this post yet, I’m going to offer up some of my expertise.

Here’s how I pack it up.

1. I’m addicted to packing cubes. Initially, I bought packing cubes because I was looking for an alternative to disposable plastic bags. They have turned out to be a great investment. I just roll (this step is key) the clothes, fill the cubes, and easily stuff them into the suitcase. I like that I can separate items of clothing for my son and that I have different colors for his and mine. As an added bonus, the packing cubes easily come out of a suitcase and into the dresser drawer of a hotel room.

2. I choose the outfits wisely. I am not a fashionista when I’m at home, so I don’t pretend that I’m going to be one while on my trip. I pick a few basic colors for my clothes, take few shoes, and try to choose clothes that will wash easily. Luckily, my son would wear his favorite shirt every day if I let him, so he doesn’t have a hard time limiting the outfits he packs.

3. I prepare for the inevitable laundry. There is no way to pack light, travel for a lengthy period, and get away with not doing laundry. If you know of a way, please do share. I can’t afford to have the hotel do the laundry for me, so it usually means a lot of Woolite and hanging clothes to dry in the hotel bathroom. If the hotel has a washing machine on the premises (or even better, in your room) then you’ve got it made. The keys to washing clothes by hand are: to take clothes made out of materials that will dry quickly and to use a travel towel to wring them out. I love my travel towel so much, I could write a whole post about it. Stay tuned, I know you’re eagerly anticipating that post.

4. Seriously, we don’t have to take every toy we own. This rule goes for both me and my son. I realized I could live without my bulky laptop and he doesn’t have to take his baseball bat (although it may have come in handy while we were in the subways of NYC this summer). When my son was younger, I would pack up too many of his playthings for fear that he would get antsy and whiny. He never played with more than a few things, since we were always too busy on our travels. Besides, I found that it’s better to save room in his backpack for a few souvenirs.

5. If I didn’t pack it, I can always buy it when I get there. This mantra was the hardest one for me to learn and follow. I came to the realization that there were very few things that I absolutely couldn’t leave my home without (medications, documents, and my phone), everything else I could do without or just buy when I got there. I learned the hard way, that I don’t have to take enough cotton balls to fill half my suitcase.

Feel free to share any of your packing tips in the comments below. I’m always looking to improve my skills.

Linking up to Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursday.

Favorite Summer Vacation Posts

There is still plenty of summer vacation left here in California (trust me, this teacher has counted the days on the calendar), so get out there and enjoy those long, sunny days.
Here are some posts to help you in all of your summer travel endeavors.

If you’re itching to take a road trip…

I wrote a post for the Trekaroo blog on how to tackle a road trip along the central coast of California.

So you’re ready to hit the road along the coast, just don’t forget the beach bag. Read here for some California road trip tips.

Here are my thoughts on packing busy bags and taking technology on the road.

The kids and moms will be hungry as soon as you pull out of the driveway, here are some tips on what me and other mom travel bloggers pack in their snack bag at Cascadia Kids.

It’s not summer without a trip to the beach…

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a tropical paradise and would like to take your kids swimming with the fishes, read some of my snorkeling tips.

I loved to snorkel in Maui’s Kapalua Bay. Please send me a photo if you do go, I’ll live vicariously through you this summer.

One of the top searches to the blog this month has been fried artichoke hearts in Santa Cruz. And it often leads readers to this post on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This is definitely one of my favorite places to eat fried artichoke hearts (they may not be the best you can find, but you just can’t beat the ambiance).

If you’re ready for some s’mores…

Our all-time popular post is about some favorite California campgrounds with kids.

Here are some tips for you newbie campers. Or if you’re a seasoned pro, tell me what else I can add to the list.

Rant and Rave: Hotel Edition

I have been wanting to do this Rant and Rave post for a while now. Lucky for you, I finally got around to it. Here’s the basic premise: I choose something to rant about and something to rave about. I have a lot of opinions to share, so I hope to make this a regular installment at Kids Go West.

Hotels give you lots to love, and lots to hate. This week I share one of in each category.

Rave: Hotel condos that have in-room washer and dryers.

I hate to do laundry. And when I’m trying to find places to line-dry all the underwear and bathing suits I just hand-washed in the bathtub of a small hotel room, I hate it even more. That’s why I loved the in-room washer and dryers in the condominium hotel resorts we stayed at while in Hawaii. Nothing makes my heart beat faster, than dancing over to a laundry machine with a pile of wet, sandy bathing suits while still in the comfort of my own hotel room. Except maybe, if it’s Orlando Bloom that’s doing that pile of dirty laundry for me. I still haven’t found a hotel that offers that package. I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.

Rant: Those little toiletry bottles that look exactly the same.

Give me a show of hands: who has lathered up their arms with hair conditioner before? I know it’s not just me, right? It probably is. But I hate it when the lotion bottles and hair conditioner bottles look exactly the same. I’m a busy mom, who doesn’t have time to read the small print on those labels. Hotels, please think of this flustered mom and make those bottles more distinct. I doubt the hotel industry is listening, or that this is a problem for anyone else but me. So I’ll probably end up lathering my hair with body lotion on my next trip, but at least I tried.

Somewhere Over the Sierra Nevada

Team Kids Go West has begun the summer travel season with a trip out to the East Coast. I’m loving the East Coast, but my heart is always out West. With that in mind, I give you our last view of California from the airplane window. Ain’t she beautiful?