Winter finally hit us last week, and now that we’re dealing with freezing temperatures and looking ahead to months of frigid conditions, ice, and snow, I’m no longer dreaming of a White Christmas. Rather, I’m dreaming of a winter vacation someplace warm and tropical. To prepare for that delightful, dreamy break from Old Man Winter, it’s important to pack certain items and prepare the home for time away. So for those who are lucky enough to make that winter vacation to a dreamy getaway come true, here are tips to prepare our winter lives for a tropical escape.
Gather Your Gear
During the summer, it’s a snap to find your swimsuits, sunscreen, and other warm-weather essentials. Since you have probably not seen these items for a few months now, it’s important to start early and figure out what you have on hand and what you might need to order online.
Start by making a good old-fashioned list, or use the Pack This! checklist pad that makes it difficult to forget anything. Depending on how long you will be gone, you can plan on at least one swimsuit per person, several T-shirts, a few pairs of shorts, sandals, and flip-flops. Help your younger kids find the essential items and make sure that everything still fits — you might be surprised to learn that the shorts that were loose in July are now too tight around the tummy. Ask your older kids to do the same. Be sure to check footwear, too — kids’ feet grow notoriously fast, and you don’t want to have to buy pricey flip-flops at the hotel’s gift shop.
Purchase What You Still Need
Once you have a clear list of what you need for your tropical vacation, it’s time to get busy and shop. Since most local stores are filled with parkas, heavy pants, and mittens, you’ll probably have to do the majority of your warm-weather vacation shopping online. To make sure that you come prepared with enough swimming accessories for your kids, visit the InTheSwim website. It stocks plenty of swimming essentials year-round, including goggles, water wings, and earplugs. As a bonus, these needed items are pretty small and easy to pack.
If your swimsuit has seen better days, check out SwimSpot, which I love for their Fit Specialist Program, letting SwimSpot’s experts help you find your perfect swimsuit. The site has a great selection of suits in all sizes and styles, and most everything is in stock right now. For the kids, Zappos has a great selection of swimsuits, rash tees, and more. The website also sells kids’ and adults’ sandals and flip-flops all year long. To stock up on sunscreen, visit your local drugstore to see if it has any left from the summer, or visit Drugstore.com, which offers a nice sunscreen selection for kids and adults.
Many resorts, hotels, and rentals allow you to deliver to the hotel, which will mean less to worry about packing. Call ahead for a shipping address and ask about recommended shipping windows. We often pre-ship a case of water, sunscreens, water bottles, diapers, and wipes (when we used them), as well as cereal bars and non-perishable snacks.
Get Your House Ready
As you get closer to your vacation time, set aside some time to prepare your home for your time away. Make a list of what needs to be done and when. This should include turning off the water inside and outside, draining the water lines, unplugging appliances, cleaning out the fridge, putting away outside decorations and patio items, and arranging for people to take care of your pets, mail, and papers. Since your friends and neighbors might be planning their own winter getaway, start extra early to arrange for home and pet care.