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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

As the school year draws to a close, that can mean only one thing for moms around the country – time to start preparing for the big summer vacation. Though certainly a time of excitement and an opportunity to bond and sow memories with your children, it can also be a time of stress – especially in the planning stages. To pull off a successful summer trip with even one child  – let alone several – can mean a long, crisscrossing checklist to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

Additionally, it’s not just the trip one needs to worry about, but what happens to your home while the family is gone. Whether it’s protecting valuables in self storage facilities or using lists to plan ahead, you have options.

Therefore, here are some tips to consider when you are getting ready for the big journey.

Secure Home Base
In the excitement of preparing for the trip itself, it’s easy to overlook the needs of preparing your home for the family’s absence – and nothing could ruin a trip more than hearing something has happened to your home while vacationing on a beach thousands of  miles away.

Most importantly, you always need to minimize the risk of burglary. Suspend newspaper and magazine subscriptions a few weeks prior to departure, or request a trusted neighbor to bring in the paper for you. Piled up newspapers on the lawn or a stuffed mailbox is a dead giveaway to potential burglars that might patrol neighborhoods looking for houses to rob. Further, if your house isn’t the most secure and you might be afraid of a burglary, consider renting space at your local storage centers. A self storage unit can be a great option for securing your valuables while you are away. There are storage units in nj that offer short-term agreements perfect for vacations. Check your local storage facility for special offers.

You can also consider hiring a lawn care company to come by once a week for basic lawn maintenance, which will prevent overgrowth and tip off burglars to your absence.

Additionally, to minimize the risk of electric fires, unplug all non-essential electrical devices such as TVs, lamps, toasters, etc. It can also be a good idea to give a key to a trustworthy neighbor or relative who can make it a habit of stopping by every few days to make sure that your home is in order. A simple phone call update will go a long way towards providing peace of mind while relaxing abroad.

List It
Relocating your entire family to a new destination involves herculean amounts of planning. Everything from securing the home base to packing enough clothes involves a revolving door of logistics, and the only way to conquer this level of complication is the time-tested strategy of making lists.

Create checklists for everything, and then check the checklists. There should also be different checklists for different aspects of the trip. Preparing your home should be separate from preparing for the 12-hour flight. Similarly, if the trip will be taking place across multiple locations, such as on a Caribbean cruise, use different lists for the various legs of the trip.

Use your Imagination
Though lists are important, they only work when complete. The best way to ensure that your lists are accurate is to visualize the trip from start to finish. If flying from an airport, think about how many bags airline allows? Bringing a camera – how many pictures can a 2gb memory card hold – and is it enough for capturing 30 days of non-stop family memory-making?

The only way to answer these questions is to do the research in advance of the trip. By visualizing the trip in the mind, it’s more likely you will catch these oversights before you are actually on your trip. Though it’s true that in today’s world nearly anything is available almost anywhere, the question to ask is whether it is worth worrying about while on vacation, or paying the premium price that tourist destinations charge for something like a camera memory card.

Don’t Sweat It
On the other side of the coin, it can also be a viable strategy to pack too little with the knowledge that shopping is only a few days away. For instance, if you plan on vacationing in Paris, it might be known in advance that clothes shopping will be a big part of the trip. If so, why waste valuable suitcase space with old clothes? Bring what is needed for a few days and then buy the rest while there. This will also avoid the risk of having to pay the fee for overweight baggage on the return flight home.

Going hand in hand with the last piece of information, a good mom must prioritize what is needed for the trip. One shouldn’t stress over having enough pairs of socks when they could be counting the heart medication grandma will need for the trip. Similarly, on any trip there are always moments when one can’t just run out to the store on a whim. If there is going to be a long flight, make sure the kids have enough to preoccupy themselves and are wearing comfortable clothes. If going on a long drive, make sure there is a spare gas can and tire in the car and plenty of water. And if the baby of the family can’t sleep without his stuffed teddy elephant doll, make sure not to forget that – or risk wakeless nights rather than restful ones.

However, most important of all is the need to get the family excited! Start daydreaming about the fun by discussing trip itineraries with the kids, and involving everyone in the process. Because a truly great “family vacation” does just that – puts the family first.

Earnest Parenting: help for families getting ready for the big summer vacation.

Image courtesy of Lauren PM via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.