Over the next week I will be going on a vacation to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. I haven’t been there since I was 5 and it will be my first vacation with 3 kids. I’ll still try to get some posts in, but no guarantees. When I do, they will undoubtedly contain the tales of the high and low points of taking a vacation with three kids under the age of 5. For today I thought I would talk about the joys of packing. Before I had kids I usually just threw stuff in a bag the night before. Since having kids, traveling has become something that takes a week to prepare. Loads of laundry must be washed, the camera must be emptied and charged, snacks and food must be bought. There is also the amount of stuff that has become necessary for survival. Bottles, diapers, toilet seat, that one special stuffed animal, toys, sippy cups, strollers, car seats, wipes, the kitchen sink. I have had to become strategic in how I pack. My mode of travel, how long I’ll be traveling, my destination, and whether Sir Smiley will be with me all play into this. If I travel by plane, I have to condense what I am packing. If I am only traveling for a day, I can just put all our things into suitcases, but if our travel will last a few days then I pack an overnight bag for hotel stays (this saves me hauling all our bags in and out of hotel rooms.) If I am heading to visit relatives, I just pack a few outfits and plan and using their laundry facilities, but if we’re staying in a hotel I pack enough outfits to last us the vacation. Whether or not I am traveling alone changes things as well. A year or so ago I travelled across the country alone with my two girls. How I packed things into the car was affected by the need to be able to reach some things from the driver’s sear. How I load up the car changes depending on how I’m traveling. If I’m headed to the airport, I can just throw things in willy-nilly. But traveling in a vehicle requires careful placement of certain things. Snacks, toys, books, diapers, wipes and bottles must all be accessible without having to unload and reload the car every time we stop. I usually have a bag with a stool and potty seat for the potty trained (and training) kids to use at rest stops, and those must also be accessible. But the one thing in common with all vacations is the fear of forgetting something essential. Inevitably I will forget something, the goal is to make sure that whatever I forget can be bought at the local Walmart. Of course most things are left to the last day so that your clothes are all clean, food won’t spoil, house won’t smell. So the whirlwind of packing and cleaning starts today, wish me luck!