So you’ve packed, locked up the home, and made all your connections for a well-deserved break. There’s not too much advice needed other than have fun and enjoy yourself, but even as I’m writing this I know that isn’t true.
If you have taken a plane or train to your main destination, but still need to use an Uber or taxi to get to your final stop, I recommend having the address pre-written down on a note card with the name (if it has one) and the address to be able to hand to your driver. Make sure that you put it in an easily accessible location so you can quick find it- it is usually a chaotic moment.
If you are staying someplace that requires a grocery store stop here’s my take. If your road tripping it, I would recommend waiting to get the majority of your food at a store close to your final destination. I know it’s faster to swing through your regular grocer- you know where everything is, you probably have a savings card, but I can’t tell you how many times we have arrived with chips that have fallen out while getting just one thing out of the back at a gas stop…or the bananas turn instantly brown…or the bread somehow gets under the cooler??? How?
Now if you’re flying, I’m going to give you the opposite advice. If you have a rental car, stop right away-just rip it off like a band aid. I know the airport can be a pain even with no delays and your Pre-TSA card, all the same it’s awesome to arrive at the vrbo for the first time and only have to unpack and stay, verses unpack, do chores, and unpack again.
No matter where you are staying check the beds for bed bugs. I have family that goes into more detail, but at least do this- peel the sheets and mattress pad off the bottom corner of the mattress. Look for small bugs about the size of an apple seed, and look for blood stains. Check the top opposite corner. Come up dirty, make alternative plans or throw out your belongings before you return.
If you’re traveling to the city: I’m probably not your girl for advice. I’ve definitely done city travel, however that was done in another life- pre-kids. I’m out of date. Just one thing to remember. You can find ATM’s lots of places. It has been the best way to get local currency. Just let your credit and debit cards know before you go, otherwise they may freeze your accounts.
To the wild: The wildlife is real people, unless you’re at the zoo. Look up, be aware, know what animals may be native to the area you’re traveling to. If you are going anywhere where there’s bears, I would recommend buying bear spray straight out of the gate. If you are driving, you can obviously take it home with you to reuse on another vacation. But if you are like us and end up flying you can't take it with you, even in checked luggage, so you may as get it right away, appreciate having it and then find another person that you can give it to before you go. Just make sure you know what you are buying. We received this advice from the store clerk with two stories of what not to do that I’ll pass on. First, many bear spray cans have enough in it for about one use. So if you mess up, good luck. Make sure you wait long enough to spray it so it will be effective on the bear and not dissipate in the air. Second, if you also have bug spray make sure you do not absentmindedly exchange these products. This year a lady in the Grand Tetons sprayed her whole family in close range with bear spray thinking it would repel mosquitoes. Maybe...but it also sent her whole family to the hospital. Also, I was told by a park ranger that bear bells are not considered effective. Matter of fact, this ranger wanted to eliminate them from the stores because they believe that they can actually draw some bears in out of curiosity. I have used these for years at our cabin, and always jokingly say I feel like it's the dinner bell and here I wasn’t all that far off.
Some of our favorite memories, specifically family sayings, have came from fun times had on vacations. I like journaling to write them down, but I know that isn’t for everyone. Maybe just text yourself funny things that you heard, so you don’t forget.
Thoughts of chores on vacation: Our family travels a lot, so to completely delay life while on a trip is pretty unrealistic. I try to skip some chores, and keep a few. For example, I almost always skip checking email, while if given the opportunity to do laundry and return home with clean clothes, I’ll take it. I’ll make our breakfasts and small suppers, and we’ll go out for larger lunches. I have just recently though went on a week-long trip where there was no internet, no cell reception, no washing machine, and no kitchen. I came back more rested and refreshed than in long time. Know your schedule, and decided on how big of a vacation hang over you want.
Last thoughts on laundry once home: I love laundry mats, specifically for sleeping bags and dirty rugs from camp stays. It’s more money than you think, but way less than wrecking your washing machine. And every once in a while I have been known to take the suitcases straight to the laundry mat, at odd times, when it is not busy and get my whole family of four’s laundry done in two hours. Awesome! Just know your neighborhood- I once was half way done, just putting the wash into the dryer, when a group of working girls came in. This was their regular laundry mat. Hmm, everyone needs a job, I’m just not sure the water got hot enough for me to zip my sleeping bag back up. I through everything in wet found another laundry mat and started over.
You only get one chance here that we know of, go see as much of it as you can.