Tips for Stress-free Vacation Planning

Despite the back-to-school stories in the news lately, it’s still summer and there’s plenty of time for vacation with your family. A beach vacation to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, is my favorite annual getaway. My husband and I typically venture here with the kids after baseball and softball season comes to an end. At this point in summer, we’re ready for a break. There’s nothing like the feel of an ocean breeze and sunshine on your face to help recharge the batteries.

But, before we enjoy these lazy days, we’re often slammed with chaos as we prepare for a week away from home. Planning for a beach vacation can be hectic. There’s so much to do. Wrapping up loose ends at work, washing and packing clothes, and making plenty of Target runs (you know, for all those essential and nonessential items that happen to land in the cart!). The list seems endless.

We’ve been traveling to Hilton Head for many years now, so it’s not our first rodeo. We’ve learned to co-manage the director of operations role with more order than in the past. Here’s a quick look at how we plan for our time away with kids. Maybe it’ll help you eliminate the stress and anxiety that often comes with getting ready for vacation.

  • Make lists – We have quite a few lists of what we need to bring and buy pre-trip. One list is comprised with all the stuff (minus clothing, shoes and toiletries) that you need to bring on a beach getaway. I’m talking about beach blanket, towels, chairs, cooler, beach toys, kites, bikes and helmets, etc. We start jotting down things on the list days in advance of our trip and add to it as the days go on. We use it as a check list when packing the car.

Another list we create is a grocery list of food to buy when we arrive on the island. We hate wasting time when we’re there pondering what we should have on-hand for breakfast and lunch. (We like to go out for dinner… I’m not a fan of cooking while on vacation!) So, we do it in advance. Also, we try to buy pantry items and paper products at home. This saves money, as items on the island are more expensive than in your local stores.

  • Divide and conquer – Free time doesn’t really exist with our busy schedules and three kids. To help simplify packing and maximize time, my husband and I split up activities. If we communicate about what needs to be done and who needs help, we’re pretty good about keeping stress-driven arguments at bay (most of the time!).
  • Delegate – Two of my children are of age to help pack themselves, especially my oldest (she’s eight). Sure, I make sure everything she needs is in her suitcase, but she helps pack outfits, accessories and toiletries. They’re also responsible for bringing items to occupy themselves during travel. They like to assist in the process. It gets them excited.

What about you? What keeps you sane when preparing for a family vacation?

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Kim Wysocki

Kim is a public relations professional. Her three-ring circus (aka, her children), husband and yellow lab keep her busy when she’s not generating publicity. She’s an avid watcher of the Today Show, loves staying fit and can’t pass up a good clothing and accessory deal. In her free time, she’s volunteering at St. Gabriel School or planning her next family vacation. Kim lives in Concord.

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