Spring break, also known as March break, Study Week or Reading Week in some parts of Canada, is a week-long recess from studying in early spring at universities and schools. Before you hit the beach or the mountains, be sure you’re prepared–you don’t want to waste a single moment waiting in line at the drug store because you forgot something important. And because this is a family friendly, G-rated blog (‘cept for some of the bluntcards), I shall refrain from Any discussion about alcohol!
1. Think about your destination first. Sure, there are some items you’ll need whether you’re going to be digging in the sand or the snow, but every spring break destination has its own special needs. If you’re going on a ski trip, make sure you have all your equipment and that it’s in good working order. I would gravitate towards renting the equipment so I wouldn’t have to worry about checking it, but that’s just me. I don’t like to carry things that are heavy. Next, think warm and think layers. Long underwear (the pros say synthetics are better than cotton), ski socks, turtlenecks, a couple of sweaters, gloves, hat, goggles, parka and ski pants. ( And, it’s perfectly acceptable on your Facebook posts, to remind people that you are wearing lots of layers! )And, just because your destination isn’t tropical, don’t forget lip balm and some sun protection for your face. For the beach, don’t forget a few swimsuits, swim goggles, flip-flops and a little something to throw over your suit when you come in for lunch or a drink. And plenty of sunscreen, chapstick…and aloe vera in case you overindulge…and I’m speaking about the Sun (remember, family friendly blog) ! And that great beach book! This is when you can get away reading those trashy novels…John Grisham or James Patterson, my personal favs.
2. Less is more. With airlines charging a premium for baggage, packing as lightly as possible can save you big. Try to fit all of your things into a carry-on bag and pack your smaller purses into an oversized purse for your “personal item.” With some careful packing, you’d be surprised how much you can stuff into your luggage! Try to pack basic wardrobe pieces that all work together. If you start planning outfits with shoes and accessories, you’re going to need a U-Haul just to get to the airport. Think jeans and/or shorts, white shirts go with everything (especially a tan), at least one pair of shoes you know you can wear all day or all night. If you’ll have access to laundry facilities, so much the better. Leave the good jewelry home. And that applies to me as well.
- Roll your clothes, rather than folding them; they’ll take up less room and won’t get as wrinkled.
- Use clear plastic storage bags for your toiletries. If a something spills, the mess will be contained.
- Wear your heaviest/bulkiest items on the flight to save precious cargo space.
- If your family is each bringing their own electronics, they need to be responsible for their own chargers!
3. Cleanliness counts. Try to streamline your personal hygiene routine. Deodorant, soap and shampoo are must-haves, but you can probably do without a complicated skin care regimen or a ton of hair styling products for the week. Travel-sized toiletries have their names for a reason! Check with your hotel or condo and see what toiletries they provide. It’s fine to go without your Aveda Mint Shampoo or L’Occitane Soap during spring break.
4. An ounce of prevention. Pick up travel size remedies as well to cover pain, stomach upset and cold or allergy symptoms. Too much fun or unusual food and drinks can mean any or all of these, and you want to be ready to nip them in the bud. Aleve, Tums, Benadryl, bandaids…don’t leave home without em. Carry any prescriptions in the original package and if you wear glasses or contacts, get an extra copy of your prescription in case they get broken or lost. If you’re flying, though, be sure to check your airline’s website for restrictions on carrying OTC or prescription meds.
5. Stash some cash. You wouldn’t be the first spring breaker to have their wallet lifted. Travel with only one credit or debit card, and hide some cash in your luggage to get you through in the event your card is stolen and you need to wait for a replacement. Use the lockers at the beach or mountain for any valuables you must bring with you.
6. Control the Electronics. My kids like to travel with their laptops…and I’m not willing to pay $14.95 per laptop when we travel. With the 4 of us, that ends up being $60/day. Many hotels have free wi-fi in the lobby, or you can search out areas that offer free wi-fi. Check with your hotel to see if the resort fee covers everyone’s laptops. If not, and they don’t have complimentary wi-fi, you may want to suggest that laptops stay at home. And while we are on the subject of electronics, make sure everyone has their cell-phone chargers, iPod chargers, laptop chargers, etc… It’s an expensive lesson to learn if the chargers are forgotten.
7. Stop your papers, your mail, and notify your police department that you are travelling, along with your neighbors. In my area it’s like a ghost town, as everyone seems to travel. It’s easier to relax on your trip, when you don’t have to worry about things at home.
8. And most of all, pack a good attitude and plan on being flexible. For example, you never know when that beachfront condo will turn out to be a shoddy flea-bag motel (pictures on the internet have been known to be embellished) surrounded by asphalt, but don’t let unexpected bumps in the road ruin your trip. One of our best family trips was hiking down the ski mountain (it was summer in Lake Tahoe, and we took the ski lift up, so there was no snow, and it was 80 degrees) because we thought it would be a quick 20 minute hike…took us 3+ hours and lots of snarky comments. We had a blast, a few new blisters and a lot of laughs!
T. (and P)
and p.s. – when I was in high school and college, I was lucky, very lucky, to go to Daytona and South Padre Island for spring break…those destinations apparently no longer hold the same cache to the young folk. Now its South Beach (actually Kevin’s favorite, typical), Cabo, Paris, or the Dominican Republic…How did this happen?
Next Blog: Monday, March 14th: Who’s Your Paddy?