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This year, we packed up and headed to the Smoky Mountains for another fun, family vacation! It is one of the most precious times of the year when we get to do this. I love getting to travel and spend time with just my husband and the kids. Having the opportunity to do this allows for added bonding time between the four of us. Our various adventures are cherished and talked about all year long.

We currently own sedans, so we’ve typically borrowed my in-laws van when we go on a family vacation. This allows us to pack anything and seemingly everything we think we’re going to need. However, this year, we’re taking a Honda Pilot on vacation! If you are confused like my son was – a Honda Pilot is a vehicle and not a person who flies Honda airplanes. This misunderstanding was hilarious, so a few weeks before our trip, I took my son to a Honda dealership to show him what a Honda Pilot was. He was impressed. So was I! I couldn’t wait to see how much of our needed items I could pack into it.

I always make a big deal out of packing for our trip. This helps get the kids excited. We talk about what we will need for the amount of days that we will be gone.

I place the suitcases in our living room and send them to their bedrooms to retrieve “X” pairs of socks, “X” pairs of undershirts, etc…

Our daughter especially loves getting to help choose what outfits she will get to bring and wear each day. We plan what types of clothing will be appropriate for all the activities we want to do. Site seeing, dining, hiking, and more!

Going through each days activities helps to build on their excitement and allow them to feel more involved in the overall process of taking a trip.

We move on to packing swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, and flip flops to wear at the pool. This is one of the most exciting things for the kids. They love having a place to swim while we are on vacation. You can be certain that our hotel accommodations must include a swimming area of some sort. They love being in the water! So, those items are their favorite to plan and pack. However, they aren’t as excited to pack personal items. The shampoo, soap, tooth brush and tooth paste. I usually end up losing my audience at that point.

I am stuck with packing those items on my own. I also pack most of the food items on my own as well. Yes, we bring a lot of food items with us. I love it when our hotel offers a breakfast of some sort – whether complimentary or not. Just having that option on site helps since the kids are so young. If we do not stay at a location that offers that – I pack donuts and other breakfast items such as oatmeal that can be prepared in the room for little hungry tummies. I always pack lunch items.

Some of the items we bring: bread, peanut butter, jelly, chips, fruit that travels well, granola bars and crackers.

If we’re not staying in a condo or chalet, I try to book a hotel that offers a mini-fridge so that we can bring juice and even purchase milk and orange juice locally.

Being able to bring those food items helps to cut the cost of our vacation – allowing us to travel more frequently and frugally. It also allows us to not worry so much about the meal budget while we are out enjoying the area where we are vacationing. Ice cream treat? No problem!

It was so nice to have a lot of space – and not need to worry that I may be packing too much. I guess I’ll leave that worry for our next vacation via air travel!

How do you pack for vacation and what do you do to help keep costs down?

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