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Family Vacations: Packing and Prepping

Yulichka, 13, told us: "The hardest thing about a family trip is PACKING! Because I have 3 sisters and we all have to help each other."

Do you agree? Sometimes the craziest, most stressful part of vacation happens before you even leave home! But it doesn't have to be that way. Consider these tips:

Help pack your own bag. Work with a parent or older sib to come up with a list of things you'll need to pack for your trip. You'll probably both have some great ideas for what to take, and he or she can help you decide what you have room for.

Avoid fights over what to pack. To get around packing arguments, consider giving each other the option to "veto" one or two items (to veto means to say no to something). For example, if you really want to take your very best shirt, but your mom is worried that it might get stained or damaged, allow this to be her veto. On the other hand, if your mom wants you to pack something that you absolutely hate wearing, like that ugly green sweater, ask her if this can be your veto.

Think about where you're going. Your destination will help you choose what clothes and other items to pack in your bag. Is it sizzling or chilly? Is it likely to rain or snow? Check the weather for your destination online or in a national paper.

Think about what you'll be doing. Is this a ski getaway, or a weekend at the beach? Are you going hiking along mountain trails, or will there be a lot of city walking?

Pack light. Although you want to be prepared for any activity and all types of weather, you also don't want to pack too much. Space in the car, bus, train, or plane will be limited, and dragging a two-ton bag around with you can really be-a drag. Take one coat instead of three, two or three t-shirts instead of a dozen.

Leave certain things at home. Try not to take items that can't be replaced, especially those with sentimental value that would be devastating to lose. If you just have to take that one thing you can't live without -- your favorite necklace or your GameBoy -- give it to a parent for safekeeping until you need it.

Don't forget medicines. Do you take a prescription medication? Do you have to have Dramamine on hand so that the car doesn't turn into a barf-mobile? Make sure a parent has that covered.

Do some research. So your bag is packed-but is your head packed, too? It should be stuffed with information about the place you're going! Use travel Web sites, books, maps, and magazines to learn more about where you're headed. Will there be any festivals or special events during the time you'll be there? What do the locals do for fun? If you're headed to a different country, what customs should you know about? What foreign language phrases should you memorize? Here's a fun way to get more familiar with your destination: find a movie or book that's set in that place, then watch or read it with family members.

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