packing cubesPreparing for an entire month away from home can be daunting. What to pack, what not to pack. Bringing just enough things to entertain and distract your children. Medicines, gadgets and their chargers.  The list goes on and on. Even packing for one month in Italy, or wherever that special place that will always be home in your heart, is hard when you account for multiple destinations and activities.

My family is getting ready to embark on our month long adventure of a week of day trips through Tuscany, a week in Cortina hiking, and then two weeks in Venice. Driving through the Tuscan country side and then north to the Alps will test our family’s strength and bond as we make our way in a Mercedes van, all five of us, with our luggage. The image of the Griswald’s European Vacation comes to mind.

So what does it take to prepare for a month in Italy?

  • Rent apartments instead of staying in a hotel. Being able to come home for lunch or stay in for dinner to give both the adults and children some down time is key, not to mention that staying in for an occassional meal helps with the budget.
  • Clothing items that are easy to wash by hand and that will look good after being line dried. It does not make sense to pack a months supply of undergarments. Wash, wear, and repeat.
  • Organized packing. We are spending a week in the mountains which means long sleeve shirts, hiking socks, and the like. We will not need those things in Tuscany, so instead of throwing everything into the suitcase in one big pile, we invested in packing cubes by Eagle Creek. I bought different colors for different family members and even labeled them with Mabel’s Labels so that I knew what was what.
  • New e-Books loaded on all of the family Kindles and new apps for the children AND adults. (I even splurged and got my daughter a new game for her DS.) One of my new favorites for my daughter is Geo Walk, a 3D World fact book.
  • Local SIM cards for your devices. Most gadgets have a slot for a SIM card that you can purchase at a local telephone/wireless store when you arrive. Having a local SIM card gives your phone a local telephone number, and having a local SIM card on your tablet gives you data so that you can share your pictures and anecdotes as you make your way through your trip. You can also buy prepaid international long distance calling cards so that you can call whoever is still stateside at only 2-10 cents/minute.
  • A laid back attitude. When in Italy, have an espresso in the morning and an aperitivo in the evening. What happens in between will just be bonus.

One month, with my family, in a country that I love sounds like a dream right? Fingers crossed that our preparations keep us exploring without any internal combustion.

What about you? How do you prepare for a long vacation?

Elena shares her stories about Live.Do.Grow, one moment at a time at Ciao Mom.