I guess you could say I am an experienced traveller. You see, we live in the middle of nowhere. Home is a large cattle station on the Barkly Tableland in the Northern Territory. We are a long way from anywhere. Town is a 5 hour drive in a different state = 165km of dirt road (I guess you could call that our “driveway”, which takes 2 1/2 hours to get down on a good day), 3 gates and 300km of bitumen highway. Add 3 little boys to the mix and you have yourself one seasoned, outback traveller.
Don’t worry, my kids don’t always travel as frilled neck lizards, sometimes they act normal…
Packing to go anywhere is a mammoth effort. It doesn’t matter if it is one night or three weeks you still have to plan, write lists and then write more lists.
My one top travel tip is what I like to call The Clothing Menu….
Whip yourself up a quick spreadsheet, ok I will allow you to hand write it on a notepad, but it really is actually easier to knock it up on the computer, then you can cut and past your outfits until you have it just so, here is what my menu for my up and coming trip away to the annual ProBlogger Conference on the Gold Coast is looking like, this is a very rough first draft (stop laughing, it really works, I dare you to try it) …
Trust me – this saves so many hassles. You don’t have to think about what to wear each day and you only pack what you will need, hence saving space. Instead of over packing because you are unsure what you might wear you sort it all out beforehand. You won’t be sorry. Short term pain for long term gain. It can take a few drafts before I reach my final decision when it comes to The Clothing Menu. Go to your wardrobe, pull out the clothes you would like to wear, make up outfits on your bed and note each outfit down on the day you will be wearing it. Your bed might look something like this, don’t be alarmed, stay with me…. you will sort it out. Mix and match items of clothing until you have filled in each day and night of your trip away.
When it comes time to pack your suitcase you will thank me, I am telling you now. Just grab your list and get packing. This is why I note down undies & bra’s etc. You don’t want to miss anything. Write each outfit down to the underwire…. belts, shoes, handbags, jewellery – everything, then you won’t forget a thing.
Because I will be away for 7 days and 6 nights it is important that I have enough outfits to last the entire time as there won’t be an opportunity to wash anything. I walked into my wardrobe yesterday and thought “I have nothing to wear….eeek” – you know the feeling don’t you. You are staring at a wardrobe full to the brim of clothing but feel like you have nothing to wear. It is going to be on the cool side down on the Gold Coast I think (well cool for me anyway) so my ample summer wardrobe isn’t going to help much. When it comes to winter clothing I don’t have a whole lot of options. But, after sitting down and workshopping some outfits I have managed to come up with the whole 7 days worth, and a few evening’s thrown in for good measure. See, I told you it worked.
You can also use The Clothing Menu on your children. Do you like how I have turned it into my own little title, like I am the only person who has ever done this? ha ha ha. It is much easier too with the little ones and you can even take it one step further and put each days clothing into a large freezer bag and write the day on the bag. Then, while you are away, instead of coming in and saying “Muuuuuuuuum, where are my clothes?” They can just get it themselves, pull out the ONE freezer bag, instead of the entire contents of their suitcase, and off they go. No searching for socks or undies. Of course the freezer bag will only work for younger children you will need to find a bigger bag once they get older, but by that time they are usually right to sort themselves out.
Now…. more lists… write yourself a list of everything you need to take…
That way when it is time to walk out the door at 5am you won’t leave your sunglasses or beauty case behind. Not saying that I have done this. But lets just say that it is no fun getting 30 km’s down the dusty road and through two gates only to discover you have left behind your beauty case and hairdryer, this doesn’t impress one’s husband either. Just saying!
All that is left to do is jump in the car and just wait…. it won’t be long, I would say maybe 30 seconds before one of the sweet little boys asks: “Muuuuuuuuum, how much longer???”….. to which I usually answer “Oh… only 5 hours, not long, we are basically there”. I have found that Audio Books are a great cure for this. We have banned all iProducts in the car (and everywhere actually, they are not allowed them at all), they cause too many fights and the kids turn into raging monsters after playing and staring at them for hours on end, not to mention the fact that they don’t sleep while glued to the screen. So if you would like to give an audio book a go just head over to iTunes and download any audio book you care to listen to. Audible also have a fantastic range and great offers, and your first book is free. I download them onto my phone. The last one we listened to was Paper Planes, the kids, who are 10 & 8, loved it and it was also a good one for the adults. One of our all time favourites is Matilda by Roald Dahl, the kids couldn’t stop laughing. The narrating is hilarious. I try and find a book that lasts for about 5 hours – this gets us all the way to town and the kids are little angels. Happy days!
So there you have it, a few hot tips from Chards. What do you think?
Do you trot out The Clothing Menu for up and coming trips away?
What is your one top travel tip? We would love to hear it.
Note: This blog post is also being entered into the Virgin Australia competition, who are, again, partnering with the ProBlogger Conference this year. Wish me luck.