We just got back from a week away in Northern Wisconsin. This area was a first first for us and we really enjoyed the change from the Black Hills where we had travelled 3 years in a row!
I had a few people ask how we planned this trip so I thought it would be fun to write a short post about some of the tips I have learned doing this sort of thing the past 4 years.
We have always chosen to rent a home from VRBO. Hotels can be really expensive per night and most don’t accommodate a family of 6 without having 2 rooms. Dominic’s parent’s travelled with us so renting a home where we have space for 8 and a place to cook meals was top on my list of priorities.
Having done this several times I will say we haven’t yet had a house we didn’t love. No not everything is perfect, but with a little planning and flexibility we always walked away blessed at the rentals.
When searching for a rental you should consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you will want as well as your budget and the area of the country you want to stay. We specifically wanted something on a lake so we could do some fishing each day.
We found a amazing cabin with lots of space, a hot tub (or hot pool if you ask Karlena) and a private mini golf course in the back! It was homemade by one of the owners kids and was lots of fun!
Most owners list the types of amenities that each rental will have. Consider the types of meals you normally prepare and ask in advance if they have the necessary “tools” to accommodate you.
For instance I had planned 4 specific meals in advance and 2 of them were soups that my family loves. White chicken chili and taco soup. I typically cook it in a crock pot but often times the homes we rent only have small crocks available. I was going to bring my own, but we ended up buying a new one while we were there.
On two of the days before we left for our adventures I prepared the meals and set them in the crock on low. When we came home we didn’t have to fuss with a bunch of cooking we just set the table and ate!
Another tip would be to make lunches for the road.
I purchased a bunch of snack items and then we also had sandwich meats and breads available. Everyone got to choose what they wanted, and we prepared them in advance and then didn’t have to stop for fast food during the middle of the day. People could eat when they were hungry and we saved tons of money on not eating out.
Bring along sandwich baggies and a sharpie when you are packing for your trip. That way when you make your lunches you can easily label whose sandwich is whose on the front of the baggie.
We live in MN where we don’t pay sales tax on our groceries. We travel to states where they do pay sales tax…so for us I have always purchased a bunch of the food in advance and packed it in Rubbermaid tubs to bring with us.
This allows you to not have to stop the first day for groceries. I also always fry up some hamburger and chicken and freeze it in advance. It adds a nice ice substitute to the cooler and when you are ready just thaw and use.
That brings me to the most awesome cooler ever and a must have on a road trip vacation like this one. We bought a Coleman Refrigerator Cooler last summer after we borrowed my parent’s the summer before.
It plugs into an outlet in your car and keeps things cool and has an additional plug so you can bring it into the house and plug it into a wall outlet. This was the perfect cooler for our sandwiches and waters. We froze several waters and put them on the bottom that added extra cooling when the car wasn’t running.
It is expensive at $100, but we have used ours for 2 years and it was a worth while investment!!
And finally (or at least for now) packing.
I have a 31 medium tote that I use for each of our kids. They know which bag is theirs and can get themselves a new outfit easily. When they were smaller I would pack full outfits in gallon baggies and they could grab a baggie and go!
I do tend to over pack. Next year I am scaling it back because the reality is I do laundry each day so I don’t need to pack a weeks worth of clothes.
I know for some doing laundry seems crazy, but after this trip I came home with all clean clothes except for 1 small load. I didn’t have to spend our last day before entering the real world again doing loads and loads of laundry. Win for me for sure! And make sure to pack some detergent and dryer sheets so you don’t have to buy it once you get there!
Well that is probably enough for this post…what are some of your best vacation planning tips? I’d love to hear them!