Traveling as a Type-A, Over-Planned, Minimalist

posted by Andrea | 10/23/2015
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traveling

Dave and I have been on a mini “vacation” of sorts the past few days as we ALL packed up and headed to his annual teacher convention. My mom is also a teacher with the same group of schools, so she and Dave are carpooling to the convention each day while my dad stays back at the hotel to help me with the kids.

I say “vacation” loosely though — because as many of you know, traveling with 3 young children is not relaxing in any way!

However, this week has been a nice change of pace for sure, and it gave Nora something to look forward to for the past month or so. Plus, it’s not every day we get to enjoy not making the beds, HGTV, swimming inside, and delicious breakfast buffets 🙂

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big traveler. Part of the reason I don’t enjoy traveling is because I have motion sickness. This has gotten better as I get older, but many of my childhood traveling memories are tainted a bit by feeling sick all the time.

However, another huge reason I would much rather stay home than go through all the “monkey business” of preparing for any type of trip is because I’m a self-proclaimed Type-A, Over-Planned, Minimalist Traveler!

What exactly is a Type-A, Over-Planned, Minimalist Traveler?

Let me explain…

Type – A

First of all, I don’t think I need to convince anyone that my personality is generally very “Type A” (read the Wikapedia definition here). I like routine, order, structure, and “sameness”, none of which are possible on a 4 day trip with 3 young children and a husband who is in meetings most of the day.

The days all sort of flow together, bedtimes and naps are often nonexistent, there is no real structure or routine to our days, and we eat out WAY more than we normally do — which honestly seems to have a big effect on my mood (and my digestive system!)

Over-Planned

Because I’m Type-A and I know how crazy traveling with young kids can be, I often try to overcompensate by planning, planning, and more planning.

I try to think of everything and anything that could go wrong or that could happen, and then make sure I have a mental plan of action and the appropriate gear packed along “just in case”.

After all, it’s so much easier to have anything we might need along versus needing to make a trip to the store in an unfamiliar location to buy something we forgot, ran out of, or didn’t think we’d need.

For the most part, my planning has saved us countless hours, a significant amount of money, and probably a bit of stress — but it also tends to take away from the enjoyment of the vacation for me because I’m so worried about planning for any potential

Minimalist

In general, I would NOT consider myself a minimalist. I don’t necessarily want a massive amount of stuff I don’t need, want, or use, but I also have nothing against “stuff” — as long as the stuff has its place in our home and can be neatly stored and organized when we’re not using it.

However, when we travel, I have this very weird obsession with trying to use the absolute smallest suitcases, pack as little as we possible can, and bring very few extras along.

This was really easy when it was just Dave and me traveling… but when you travel with a poopy baby, a drooly toddler, a potty trained preschooler who has accidents every once in awhile, and general kid messiness, this traveling “light” is essentially impossible.

Sigh…

As you can see, the minimalist part directly contradicts the over-planned part — and the Type-A part just complicates things even further. It’s no wonder I’ve never been big on seeking adventures outside our home 🙂

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Obviously, I’m being just a bit facetious — but there is a fair amount of truth to this post as well!

And I hope some of you can relate!

I realize that part of the reason I don’t enjoy traveling is because we don’t do it enough to get into a good habit or routine (practice makes perfect, right?) But at this point in my life, I don’t really feel like practicing my traveling skills any more than necessary!

Packing for all 5 of us seemed like SO much work. Clothes, bathroom stuff, extra diapers and wipes, all our swimming gear, all our cold-weather gear, pack ‘n play, baby travel bassinet, special blankets and stuffed animals, bouncy seat, stroller, food, toys, books, etc.

Thankfully, I haven’t let my Type-A, Over-Planned, Minimalist self hinder me from having a good time on this trip. The last few days have been busy but fun — and a great change of pace.

I’ll certainly be happy to get back to “normal” again next week (and boy am I glad my parents were along to help!) but in the meantime, I thought some of you might get a kick out of reading what my brain is thinking… and I also secretly hope some of you can relate!

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30 comments

  1. Melissa D.

    10/27/2015

    I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and ideas on dealing with motion sickness as an adult. I’ve suffered with it since age four and have managed to work out a system for myself when I travel/go places however, I’m always looking for news ideas. Many of my childhood travel memories have motion sickness playing a part. What frustrates me now is that, due to medication (I’ve tried them all), my adult travel memories are often tinged with sleepiness and not feeling very alert. I always say that I wish I had a doctor’s note to allow me to sit in the front row of busses, trolleys, etc. 🙂

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  2. JoDi

    10/24/2015

    Mmmmm, the breakfast buffet makes it all worth it! I love eating out for breakfast even more than dinner. 🙂

    I can’t imagine traveling with three young ones. Doing it with one was not bad at all, even by myself, but I think my head would explode if I had to try it with three! You go girl!

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  3. Laura @HowToGYST.com

    10/24/2015

    I can absolutely relate! My husband couldn’t understand why I wasn’t looking forward to our family holiday this year. I relaxed a lot after I arrived, but it the getting there that was stressful. All the planning, packing, flying… Ugh. I’m a confirmed home bird.

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  4. Carrie

    10/23/2015

    My boys are older now (18,16,12) but I found that traveling with young children gets easier the more you do it. In my experience, the toys that move are enjoyed more than a stationary toy. My boys would play for hours in the car with hot wheels cars. Another favorite car toy was a water bottle filled with sand and little objects. I also have a first aid kit in the van at all times filled with the basics and including a thermometer, Tylenol, cough medicine and Benadryl. The Benadryl is helpful for possible allergic reactions to exposure to new things. Enjoy your little ones, times flies by so fast. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yup, just like anything — the more you do it, the easier it is!

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  5. kathy w

    10/23/2015

    If it was just for a few days, I would just stay home with the kids. I tried it and it just wasn’t worth how stressed it made me and one of the kids couldn’t sleep at night which made the next day
    more stressful. So staying home and in our routine worked out better for us, but if things work out for others to be able to go that’s great.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, that’s what I ALWAYS said too — except then I realized how overwhelming it was to be home alllllll day with 3 little kids and get them all to bed and wake up with them all various times throughout the night.

    It was a lot of work to travel for just a couple of days, but at this point in my life, I feel like it was the “least overwhelming” option 🙂

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  6. Daniele

    10/23/2015

    I can SO relate! This summer we took a three week road trip across the US. I have four kiddos ages 6-16 and I planned for MONTHS. Lol!!

    I think it was completely worth it though, and necessary for me to feel calm about the whole experience. We had a BLAST, definitely an incredible family memory.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that sounds great. Dave and I have plans to buy a trailer when our kids are older… and spend many weeks each summer traveling across the country. I think it will be a lot of work, but if we can “live” in a trailer, it might not be as much work in terms of packing and arranging hotel accommodations.

    We’ll see — I’m sure we will make many memories too!

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  7. Debbie

    10/23/2015

    If those are the only bags you brought on your trip for all of you then you did very well! I have a hard enough time packing for myself thinking about what “ifs”, I can’t imagine if you I have to do that for each member of the family too.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I did good this trip! We packed pretty light and even managed to fit toys, books, pools stuff, and warm coats in those bags. We did still have to bring a pack ‘n play and a little bassinet for Simon and James — and of course, a little cooler and umbrella stroller.

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  8. Emily

    10/23/2015

    Ha! That was a fun read. 🙂 We’re loading up into our RV and traveling to Iowa in a few weeks for a conference. With each trip we take I have learned to have low expectations. I can totally relate to you with wanting to be prepared for anything but have slowly learned to let that go…now to work on my tendency to overpack! I need some lessons from you!! 😉

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yay — sounds like fun! You are brave to do that kind of traveling right after having a new baby! How fun to travel in an RV too! Dave and I have said that once our kids are a little older, we want to buy a trailer and travel that way. Then I can keep it fully stocked with everything we “need” so it will be relatively easy to pick up and go whenever we want (especially during the summer when Dave is home)

    Have fun on your trip!

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  9. beth

    10/23/2015

    Another Type-A, over planner, minimalist with motion sickness here!

    Traveling with kids was the bane of my existence until the youngest was over the age of 3. That seems to be the age where my kids go from holy terrors while traveling to their normal selves while traveling (acknowledging that their normal selves can still be tough but at least it is not the nightmare it was at less than 3).

    Happy travels!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, Nora was great this trip — still over-tired and whiny at times, but overall, she had a bunch of fun and was relatively “easy”.
    James was also easy because I just held him a lot and he’s a pretty happy little guy.

    Simon, on the other hand, was AWFUL! I think he was confused for the first 2 days and just cried and cried. Then, he didn’t eat well the next day. He finally started coming around and enjoying the trip just when we were getting ready to start packing things up to come home!

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  10. muriel

    10/23/2015

    I can relate to a lot of this. A packing list really helps me when packing with my kids.

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  11. lydia @ frugaldebtfreelife

    10/23/2015

    We will be flying with our 3-year-old and 2-year-old in a few weeks. Any tips for keeping them happy on a plane or in the airport?

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    Gabriela Reply:

    Some toys – old and new, some wrapped in gift paper – some cool ideas I recently used are pipe cleaners and do a dot art markers (both from michaels), a deck of cards, books, coloring books.

    Many snacks – not too much sugar though. 😉 fresh fruit worked well and some type of bread product.

    I also gave my daughter, 18 mths, some teething tablets to help with calmness. I had them from a natural store – hyland brand I believe.

    In the airport we tried to do as much walking as we/she could.

    I also had some care packs ready for the neighboring passengers but I didn’t used them – I was too shy to talk to them and to hand them the baggie. I put in it some ear plugs and 2 snacks. I bought for my daughter some annies crackers and fruit strips from costco so I had a lot of them. 🙂

    She actually did really good considering our longest flight was 8.30 hours and total, with the layover, 17 hours. She had some good sleep as well – 4 hours her longest stretch.

    God bless you and give you wisdom and strength!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Good tips — thanks Gabriel!

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    Andrea Reply:

    my tips are lots of snacks and a computer that can play DVD’s. Nora was 3.5 when we flew so she could do some coloring and stickers — but not Simon. He was only 14 months so watching Baby Einstein killed a little time for him and kept him from being SO squirmy!

    have fun!

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    Kelly S Reply:

    For flying –

    I like to have a bag with the emergency stuff (spare clothes, back-up diapers, etc.) that can get stashed in the overhead compartment, plus a bag with toys, snacks, and things we can readily access.

    Bonus points for putting diapers, wipes, trash bag, and changing pad into an easy-to-remove gallon ziploc for easy access. (I have never had to change a diaper on the airplane, but just in case… plus, it’s easier to access in the airport.)

    Make use of what’s at the airport/on the airplane FIRST before using your own stuff. Walk slowly through the terminal till you reach your gate. Explore empty gates. Browse gift shops. Look out the window.

    Then on the plane, the same idea… look through the inflight magazine and Skymall magazine, pointing out all the interesting pictures, identifying letters, etc. Ask the flight attendant for extra cups or stir sticks to play with, etc.

    That way, you don’t feel like you’ll run out of your own toys and stuff.

    A list of ideas stuck in your back pocket could be helpful, especially for things that don’t require any materials:
    – titles of songs to sing or stories you could tell
    – titles of finger plays (i.e. this little piggy)
    – game ideas: I Spy with my little eye

    Sometimes I read ideas ahead of time but then don’t remember them in the moment, so that list can help.

    Finally, plan ahead in your mind for it to be a fun day. I like to call our travel days “adventures!” If you can afford it, splurge on a coffee or treat for yourself once you’re through security, or bring along a snack for yourself to enjoy on the plane (I like dark chocolate covered cranberries!) I usually bring a magazine or Kindle just in case I have a few moments of rest. I find that my attitude really makes a difference in the day – choosing to be joyful and thankful even when things go wrong can help make it still a fun day!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Good tips!! Especially about having a positive attitude! Thanks for sharing Kelly 🙂

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  12. Jen

    10/23/2015

    My family calls me Type AAA! I’m curious to know if you’ve ever taken a Meyer-Briggs test. I would be willing to bet that you and I are exactly the same–ISTJ. Depending on the day, I could be an ESTJ, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to highly value my solitude.

    Thought about you last week as I was in GR for the week visiting my sister. Would have loved to have run into you at Meijer. I would have totally said hello! 🙂 Hope that, in spite of the “hassles”, you’ve been able to enjoy your short time away. And, truth be told, I “lost my cookies” just last spring after a short car ride-even in the front seat. Totally had to pull over and lean out of the car–with four teenagers in the back who have yet to let me forget about the incident! I had four pregnancies and didn’t throw up once, but the car does me in sometimes! 🙂

    Have a great weekend–hope you are able to survive “re-entry” and settle back in to your routine.

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    Andrea Reply:

    What? You were in GR and you didn’t even say anything?? You should have told me and I would have met you at Meijer!

    And of course we are both the same Meyer-Briggs — did you really have any doubt 🙂 I’m an ISTJ, but also boarding the I and E depending on the situations. In fact, I went back to the post where I talk about being somewhat introverted (read that post here) and see that you left a comment about traveling!!)

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    Kelly S Reply:

    No wonder I love your blog so much, Andrea! I am also an I/E-STJ.

    I call it being a “reserved extrovert.” I think that must be a trait of STJs. 🙂 I tested as an ISTJ but told the person who discussed our results with us (in college) that I thought I was really an E.

    I think I am energized by other people, but only if I know them well or meet them in a carefully controlled environment (like, I was very outgoing in school because I felt comfortable in a classroom at my small private school).

    Anyways, that explains why yours is also the blog I look forward to reading the most!

    As for traveling, totally with you on this post. I actually enjoy traveling, and did it a lot before having kids (but often pulled an all-nighter beforehand trying to make sure I had not only packed but also cleaned up the house and tied up loose ends before the trip began).

    Since kids, it’s been hard for me to realize I don’t enjoy it nearly as much, namely because of the packing and preparations involved.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha –thanks! I think I read somewhere that the “ESTJ” and “ISTJ”have the highest percentage of people over all the other types — but I could just be remembering that wrong 🙂

    And yes, i’m totally a “reserved extrovert” as you call it — perfect explanation!

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  13. Paulette

    10/23/2015

    Oh mercy, can I relate…and my children are grown and gone!!! I’ve never forgotten driving across town to visit my mother with everything but the kitchen sink, let alone traveling! I can totally relate.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — sometimes just going to get groceries or going to the park requires massive amounts of “gear” to make it through 🙂

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  14. Pamela

    10/23/2015

    Yup….I can totally relate. You’re not alone!

    Whenever I don’t bring the “extras” (thermometer, Tylenol, bibs, etc….) we always seem to need them. If i pack them, I won’t need them.

    We just got back from traveling last week, and we found out the hard way that our18 mo old has motion sickness. 🙁 I wish I had had a few extra outfits packed for her, but of course I hadn’t wanted to overstuff the diaper bag…..

    It’s a fight between simplicity and thoroughness in my head….!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yup! I forgot the thermometer this time and Simon woke up Thursday morning and was burning up. I gave him some Tylenol but wished I had the thermometer to see what his temp was.

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