Planning Family Travel, Or Not!

This post also appears at my Productivity @ Home blog. 

Next week, we embark on our big family vacation of the summer.  Owing to busy schedules, we tend to take frequent day trips or camp overnight, so anytime we can take six whole days to vacation it's a cause for celebration.  We are headed from our home in Fresno to Seattle aboard Amtrak's Coast Starlight train. You East coasters may be used to Amtrak, but for  Californians rail travel is a treat.  This is my very first domestic train experience!  I've done the grungy student Eurail thing, but this is a whole new experience.

As much as I try to be an organized Mom, when it comes to vacationing I tend to leave my planning hat at home.  I learned long ago that the joy is in the journey, not in racing around to cross sightseeing venues off a to do list.  In anticipating our family vacation, here are a few of my priorities for preparation:

Pack light – To keep things as simple as possible, I try not to overpack.  I do always make sure that each of us have a jacket or sweatshirt regardless of the weather forecast, just in case.  Each of the four of us will tote a small rollerboard suitcase.  I always throw in large ziploc bags and extra socks just in case.

Don't overplan – We have done some research on Seattle's highlights and have a vague agenda for the days we will spend there.  My family loves playing music, so one "must see" destination for us will be the Experience Music Project.  When it comes to traveling to a new city, be aware of the recommended highlights, but follow your own passions when it comes to choosing how you will spend your time.  Love used books?  Then a day spent browsing antique book stores may be time better spent than touring a natural history museum.  We try to plan one major site for each day and leave much of the time unscheduled to see what grabs our attention.  This is vacation after all!

Make getting there fun – We will spend almost two full days on the train, so we have plans for making that portion of our trip enjoyable.  If you are traveling by car, make the most of that "family time" in a confined space.  We often travel with a car full of guitars, drums and other jam-session worthy instruments and play as we travel.  Others love car games or use this as a chance to get caught up on movies.  If you see something noteworthy along the road, stop and visit it! That's how I can say I saw the World's Largest Cross in Groom, Texas.  Keep your eyes and ears open for fun along the path!

Home-work for Today:

There's still time for one last family vacation before summer ends, even if it's only an overnight trip or even camping in the back yard. Plan it today!

The Bookshelf:

1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. & Canada Before You Die

Reading Room Resources:
Blog posts from this week related to Family Fun

6 Summer Travel Tips
How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less

Make Chores Fun with Chore Wars (yikes!)
How to Be Safe at Amusement Parks


Lisa Hendey, Catholic wife and mom, is the founder and webmaster of and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and hosts the Catholic Moments Podcast. Visit her at

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  • Guest

    Hi Lisa,

    Have a wonderful time on vacation!