Top Ten Tuesday: Vacation Tips/Ideas/Fun

I will be at Disney World in less than 3 days. This is actually our first big Disney World vacation. I know, that’s weird, right? Well, Lydia has been to Disney World when she was 9 months with my whole fam. Then she’s been on 3 Disney Cruises. Asa has been to Disney World with me (and a bunch of Mom Bloggers) and one Disney Cruise. We’ve all been to Disneyland. And now it’s time for the Big Family Vacation! I’m so excited!

Since vacationing is on the brain, I thought I’d share a few fun vacation tips for planning, excitement and overall how-cool-is-that-ness. So, here are my TOP TEN VACATION FUN AND PLANNING TIPS:

1. Countdown Calendar.

vacation countdown calendar

You already know my obsession with advent calendars. Well, you could use any of these ideas for a vacation countdown calendar. This year we made the old-cup-tissue-paper-pop version (here’s a tutorial and more explanation). I bought a Mickey and Minnie puzzle and put the pieces inside. So, it’s like 2 countdowns in one!

2. Organization.

When we went on our Disney Cruise with both kids I knew that keeping our tiny little cabin clean was going to be an issue. I read on one of the Disney forums (Disboards?) about bringing an over the door shoe organizer helps keep things together. I thought this was a great idea so I bought one at TJMaxx for like $8. I hung it up on the door of our bathroom and it was like having an extra 4 feet in the room! I put all our sunblock, lotions, toothbrushes, Asa’s diapers, cream, Lydia’s clips and bows, our sunglasses and any other little thing that usually floats around your room and drives you crazy. Genius.

This vacation I’m going to bring a few other pop up organizers like this cool hamper-bag-tote I bought at Target five years ago and this fun thing from Ikea.

3. Souvenirs.

vacation craft

I love creative souvenirs. It’s because I don’t scrapbook. On my first big Disney vacation as a kid, my mom did the old-school scrapbooking of just putting every napkin and matchbook in a big photo album. I love looking through that thing. I always save everything hoping I’ll put one together but, I never do. Anyway, I wrote a whole post at Blissfully Domestic about souvenirs. And I still love our Disney Cruise postcard-on-a-keychain souvenir .

This year, I think we’ll let the kids get one or two Disney trading pins. And I might buy chocolate. Chocolate is a souvenir, right?

4. Map It Out

Once I saw this magnetic map on the side of an RV. It was the United States and it was filled with brightly colored magnets of the states–presumably of the states that particular RV-ing family had visited. I thought it was so cool—a little tacky, but cool! When Les and I were on the road when we first got married, we used a highlighter on our map to chart all the places we’d been (35 states!).

I looked around online to find a more creative way to display your vacation travels. There’s not too much out there (someone get their crafty vacation hat on! You could make millions!) But I did find some cute stuff Family Vacation Crafts at Martha Stewart and one of them was a map with all your destinations marked. (There was tons of cute stuff on that post, too!)

vacation craft

5. Road Trip Book

creative vacation tips

Staci is my inspiration for this item. She made us the most fun Sisterchick Road Trip book ever for our 30th birthday cruise. There were 8 games and every hour we chose a new game to play. We did the old license plate game, travel bingo and of course, tinfoil pictionary. You have never had so much fun. I’m making something similar for our trip!

6. Eat

Best.  Hash browns.  In Nashville.
(Yes, this is a blurry phone picture that I found on flickr. It’s of my favorite local restaurant in Nashville, the Pancake Pantry. Just scroll over to see the title of this shot.)

Finding fun places to eat is my favorite thing about vacation. I never ever ever want to go to a chain while I’m on vacation. I want to go where the locals go. I want a hole in the wall. I want Grandma and Grandpa to be in the kitchen. When Les and I were on the road, pastors would ask us, “Where would you like to eat? We have Applebee’s, Chili’s, Olive Garden…” We’d say, “Where do the locals go?” And we always got the best food!

My friend and mentor Jim Wideman says he always looks for the fattest oldest guy in town and says, “You just got back from the war and your mama is dead. Where are you gonna go eat?” And that’s where he goes.

In lieu of having to find an old fat man, you could always go to one of those CitySearch type places to see who made the “Best of” list in your vacation city. Or go to Food Network and type in your city’s name. You’ll find good cute restaurants that have been featured on some of their tv shows!

7. Ziploc Bags

This may be my most favorite thing ever. I discovered it when Lydia went to her first Camp Primo. Her clothes were so tiny and I packed so much (first time mom, what can I say?) and I just *knew* my parents wouldn’t be able to recognize her onesies from her capris, so I put outfits into quart sized ziploc bags. Everything fit in nicely. And her suitcase didn’t look like a hurricane went through it afterward. I still have those ziploc bags and whenever I pack their suitcase for more than an overnight, I put stuff in ziploc bags.

If you’re doing it for big kids or adults, you can’t get a whole outfit in even a gallon sized bag, but you can definitely do a bag of socks and a bag of undies. It makes you suitcase a whole lot neater.

8. Luggage

I always feel like I want new luggage when I go on a trip. We’ve got some lame little mini rolling suitcases we bought at WalMart like 8 years ago. They just last forever and are perfect for 2-3 day trips. Whenever I go to TJMaxx or Marshalls I always look at the luggage and admire the brightly colored luggage and know my husband would never let me get it.

Wonder if he’d like this upcylcled vintage piece from Judy the Jazz Cat’s etsy shop? It makes me happy just looking at it.

vintage luggage

9. Travel Kits

When I was little (even all the way up until I was a teenager) Daddy would fill a little lunch sized brown paper bag full of candy and other stuff for us to eat and play with on our vacation. I always try to do something similar for the kids. I’ve already snagged a new book for both kids and I’m going to pack some fun food. I looked around on etsy to see if there were any other good ideas. And. There were!

I love this Are We There Yet kit from Sleepy Sillys–it’s just a little plastic case with toys and games inside. But so cute!

Then look at this adorable kids activity boxes from Quick Kits! It’s just a tiny little gift–some goldfish crackers, bubbles, etc. But I love the idea–especially for only $9. And this site has Quick Kits for all occasions. (I’m totally going to steal that idea!)

Oh, and my other favorite thing are these adorable little I Spy pillows. Have you seen these?!

10. What’s your favorite fun travel idea?

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If you’re going to play along this week all you have to do is WRITE a Top Ten list on your blog, LINK to me in it, PASTE your post’s url into the linky below and then VISIT or tweet or stumble or generally love the rest of the Top Ten {Tuesday} participants! (<—click there for ‘rules’ and a cute button!)


  1. Amanda I love the ziplock idea!! Brilliant!

  2. Ok, I’m already a HUGE fan of over-the-door-shoe organizers but I’ve never thought of taking them on vacation. What a great idea!!

    Honestly, it sounds like you’ve thought of everything. have a great trip!

  3. We traveled by car as a family for four weeks this summer – you’d think I would have a whole list of suggestions! But I think some part of my brain is claiming amnesia – I can hardly remember any of our tricks. I did learn to never underestimate the power of a Mr Potato Head (my 3yo played with his for HOURS), and I for sure was a HUGE fan of the sandwich bags! We also committed to getting off the main roads for at least one stretch every day (we became big fans of the byways). And bring along a camera you can hand to your kids – the pictures from the backseat (or anywhere, really) can end up being pretty hilarious. A whole other side of the trip you didn’t see!

  4. I am a huge user of ziploc bags for travel but our most recent trip was the first time I put whole outfits in them. I put an outfit for my son, complete with underwear and socks, and an outfit for my daughter together in one gallon size ziploc for the first five days of vacation. It didn’t work perfectly (I pulled out a pair of shorts here and underwear there) but it was a huge help and space saver.

    Love your organization ideas! I brought an over-the-door hook rack ($2.50 at Target) on our latest vacation to hang drying towels and swimsuits–that was wonderful but I can see how the shoe organizer would be fabulous as well!

    • Oh yeah, a hook would be nice. I was just thinking about those sticky/removable mini hooks, too. Then you could hang them anywhere in the hotel room. Wonder if those would be helpful? 🙂


  5. Wow, Amanda! Your blog got a facelift!! It’s just wonderful! I’m back at your blog after a long time, and it was a nice surprise! I love purple and to see it all over your blog like this…it just brought on the widest smile on my face!

    Great travel trips you have here. And luggage that stays sturdy for a loooongg time is both satisfying and frustrating, right? I mean, you feel good that you’re getting your money’s worth out of it, but then you also see people walking around with chic, colorful stuff, and your conscience (and just like you, my conscience is my husband!! :P) won’t let you buy a new one when the old one’s still going strong….sigh!

    By the way, I have a deep craving for hash browns right now, and all because of you!! *sniff*

  6. My travel tip is pack light, you can always buy something if you discover you really need it.

  7. I LOVE the idea for the shoe organizer in a hotel/cruise cabin! And the ziploc bags- I will have to remember those ideas for our next trip!
    I actually love making the kits for travelling. I haven’t had the chance to do it for my own kids yet- not many road trips to make from Guam and we haven’t left the island in 2 years, but a friend of mine went home for Christmas and as my gift to her kids I packed them each little fun travel kits using big ziploc bags 😉

  8. I love all of your travel ideas. We are going on our first big vacation next month, and I’ll have to implement some of them. Have a great trip! Thanks for hosting the blog carnival.

  9. I love the travel kits idea! New toys and books to keep little ones occupied on a trip seems fabulous.

    • Yes! I picked up some little Disney step-into-reading books for 70cents at Target yesterday. SEVENTY CENTS! Those are going to be little gifts for the trip! 🙂


  10. These are great ideas. I have been using the Ziplock bags when traveling for years!

    Have a wonderful vacation!

  11. Some really good ideas! Have a great trip!

  12. You are awesome. You know that, don’t you? Love these kinds of lists!!

  13. Fun ideas! This was a perfectly timed post, we’re leaving for the beach Sat., and I need to put together some new car bags for the boys. For older kids, I highly recommend small video games for super long car trips. Leapsters for the preschool set, and old-school Game Boys (ultra cheap on ebay…forget the DSi) for older ones. Tetris and Klax are educational, right? 😉 We also bought the boys inexpensive MP3 players ($7) for xmas and loaded them with their favorite songs. That way we don’t have to listen to Weird Al’s Star Wars repertoire in heavy rotation. Have a great trip!!

  14. It seems we were a on a similar wavelength this week…I have an extremely similar top 10 list that I posted because we traveled to Hamburg this weekend 🙂 Fabulous ideas…and those hasbrowns look TO DIE FOR!

  15. My grandma buys these ginormous 2-or-more gallon ziploc bags that I use for my clothes on a trip, too — it’s nice knowing if your suitcase gets the once-over by security they aren’t really rifling through your “unmentionables.”

  16. I love the ziploc bags idea! And I’m just a sucker for maps…

  17. I love these ideas! We haven’t gone on many big trips with the kids, so I don’t have anything to share. Except that the DVD player in my minivan is the best invention – EVER.

  18. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

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