Post-Trip Planning: The Recipe for a Stress-Free Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation - Post-Trip Planning - Camping

In the hustle and bustle of vacation season, we tend to spend most of our time preparing for takeoff; buying sunscreen and bug repellent, reserving the rental car, finding ticket deals on excursions, the list goes on. Although once the vacation is over, part of the “post-vacation blues” is that we often come back to a big mess that was left behind in the frenzy of preparing for the trip! Do yourself and your family a favor this year, and set aside some time before you leave to plan for your return, too. Here are some post-trip planning ideas to get you started!

Clean the house

Leave for vacation with a clean, tidy home! It’ll make your return so much easier. If you run out of time to take care of all the cleaning and tidying yourself, hire a local cleaning service to do the job for you, which can likely be done in one visit when you’re already on your vacation. Or if you only have time and budget to do a few things yourself, starting the dishwasher before you go and making the beds are two small tasks that you’ll thank yourself for when you get back. 

Bring a laundry bag on your trip

Coming back home and sorting through all your clothes to do the laundry can be tedious, so lessen the work by packing a laundry bag with you. You can put your dirty clothes into the laundry bag as you go, and when you get home, there won’t be any guesswork or sorting required. Easy peasy!

Lay out your work clothes for the next day after vacation, and clothes for the kids’ next day plans

Let’s face it; you’ll likely be tired when you get home. And no matter the time of day it is that you walk through the door, we suspect you won’t be too thrilled about taking care of all the details to prepare for going back to everyday life the next day. To lend your future tired self a hand, before you leave for vacation: iron your work clothes and hang them up, set out your shoes, have your work bag ready – whatever it is that will help you be more prepared and less stressed. For the kids, you can set out clothes and shoes for daycare if that’s where they’ll be going, or an overnight bag if they’re headed to another relative or their other parent’s home upon return.

Freeze some Dream Dinners meals, so they’re ready for you when you get back

No need to worry about what you’re going to eat when you walk into the house, hungry and tired from travel. Have some Dream Dinners meals frozen and ready to go! If you have a few options, you’ll be able to take a quick glance and choose something that is fast, easy, and a crowd-pleaser for the whole family. Having one make-from-frozen meal front and center in the freezer will make things even easier. Or, if you have someone watching your pets or house-sitting, ask them to take a few meals out to thaw the day before you get home. No need to discuss where to order take-out from, and then be at the mercy of the wait and delivery time. We got you covered!

Plan something fun to do within the next week after you’re back home

We mentioned it before, but post-vacation blues are a real thing. Post-trip planning can help! Parents and kids alike can feel down when returning from a great trip, back into the routine of our everyday lives. Before you go, you can be proactive about this by planning something to look forward to once you’re home again. Maybe a relaxed family and friend game night the following week, a trip to the zoo the next weekend, or tickets to see an anticipated movie. Having a fun event already planned will help you stay on the vacation high, rather than having the blues sneak up on you.

 

We hope these post-trip planning ideas are helpful for you and your family! Are there other things that you and your crew do before leaving on vacation that have proved super useful? Let us know! Share them with us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), so we can all learn from each other about how to make our vacation transitions even better. If you’re heading out on a vacation soon, bon voyage! And if you’re just returning from a trip, welcome home! Wherever you are in the process, we hope you’re having a happy, healthy summer.

Camping Isn’t Just for the Grownups: Family Camping Tips

Dream Dinners Camping

Tis the season for family camping! It’s always a good recharge for the body and soul to get out in nature once in a while. This is especially true if you’re a city dweller and don’t see forested areas very often in your day to day life. Camping with your kids can seem daunting and maybe even overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! With the right approach it can be a great time for everyone involved.

To start, if you haven’t taken your kids camping before and are worried about how they’ll like it, do a trial run first! Pitch the tent (with your kids’ help) in your backyard, and spend an afternoon playing outside and in the tent, even napping in it to see how they do in a different sleeping environment. That way when the “real deal” camping comes, both you and your kids know more of what to expect.

With every step of the way, get your kiddos involved as much as possible, even when it means that things will take longer. From having them help pack their own bags to gathering sticks for the campfire, involving them will allow them to be more invested in the activities and to feel that their contributions are valued.

One area that is a lot of fun to involve your kids is also our personal favorite: food! Ask your kids for their opinions on what to eat, and have them help with preparations before you leave. When planning your camping meals, think simple and think crowd pleasers. Foil meals and things you can grill over the fire, for example. On our May menu we have Campfire Grilled Pork Chops, and Tarragon Carrots. The pork chops, as the name suggests, would be perfect grilled over the campfire, and the carrots could be prepped before leaving and thrown in foil, also to be cooked over the fire. Check your nearest Dream Dinners location to see what menu items are available, and which would be best for your next family camping adventure.

A few other quick pieces of advice: make sure to do your research before you go, checking campsite details and regulations, etc., so you have less surprises along the way. Don’t forget to bring along toys and games for your free time at the campsite, and think positive but also plan for any potential challenges. Pack extra tarps in case of rain, extra layers so you’re ready for weather changes, and a first aid kit for cuts and scrapes.

Of course we’re only scratching the surface of all the possibilities! If you need more ideas for family friendly camping, there are plenty of resources available. REI offers some solid advice in this article, and this Lasso the Moon blog post also has a lot of fun tips and tricks. Research and preparation aside, what’s most important is to have fun! Camping with your family can provide you with great memories to last for the rest of your life, way after the bug bites go away and the s’mores are all devoured.

Hitting the Road with the Kids, with Dream Dinners in Tow

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It’s that time of year when we begin thinking of trips over Spring Break, Memorial Day and throughout the summer. The calendar fills up quickly, and so do mom anxieties when trying to make sure every detail is in place and the trips ahead are memory-worthy, not in the Griswold family sort of way.

The Dream Dinners team is always looking for ways to simplify planning, and road tripping is no different. Most of us have raised our kids and some are still juggling high school and middle school schedules, while a few are still changing their kids’ diapers. We are always talking trip hacks to make everything so much easier on the entire family. Adventures should focus on the journeys and destinations, and that’s possible when a few tried-and-true planning steps are handled right from the get-go.

One way to get the kids psyched about the trip, not just the days out of school, is to bring them in on the planning right from the dream stage. When they are excited, the anticipation well outweighs a last-minute food stop.

There are ways to get the kids involved. Start with a list of destinations, break out the maps and research at the library, or online, all the details about where you hope to land. If you use a paper map, which is so much more fun to mark up Ken Jennings-style, take time to point out some fun spots along the way. Are there scenic vistas? Giant trees? Historic markers? Hikes? Places to play?

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Going Somewhere?

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If you’re going on vacation this summer, dining is often the most expensive and time consuming piece— don’t let the stress of meal planning and reservations lead to expensive dinners that can limit your fun. Whether you’re flying to a faraway and exotic location, visiting a secluded family cabin in the woods or simply going camping, we’ve got you covered. 

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The Puget Sound, My ‘Home Away from Home’

 

vern-driving-boatBoating in the Puget Sound with my husband Vern at the helm is my favorite ‘home away from home.’ There is something peaceful about inhaling the salty breeze, watching sunlight dance on the water, and taking in the grandeur of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges from the east and west. I love rushing out to snap photos of sunrises and sunsets, always unique and saturated with color. Time on our boat never gets old. “Ah,” I’m often in wonder at the beauty surrounding us. This is my heaven on earth.

At night, waves lull us to sleep; we hear the lines moan and the water splash the stern. By day, we drop anchor in our favorite bays and come ashore to enjoy the beaches and island hikes. Other times we moor at charming ports like Salt Spring Island or Roche Harbor and enjoy the quaint shops and local fare.

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Tips for Family Travels

Travel with Dream DinnersLabor Day weekend is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year and we know traveling with kids is no easy task, especially when it involves long flights or car rides.

Try a few of these easy summer travel ideas so you can spend less time worrying about the stress of travel and more time making memories with your family.

– Bring a variety of your kids’ favorite healthy snacks such as sliced or dried fruit, popcorn, granola bars, trail mix, or string cheese. Keep perishable foods in a small cooler with plastic bags of ice that can be refilled at gas stations for free as the ice melts.

–  Make erasable activity books by inserting coloring book pages, crossword puzzles, and other activity sheets into page protectors in a three-ring binder. Give kids a pack of dry-erase markers or, for less mess, dry-erase crayons to use with their new activity books.

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Take Dream Dinners to Your Next Outdoor Event

From Portland’s Blues Festival to Central Park’s Summer Stage, communities all across the nation offer free outdoor events during the summer and August is the perfect month to take your family to an evening concert on the lawn or outdoor movie event. Shake up your regular summer routine and spend some quality time with your family by enjoying a warm evening outdoors, some new music or a favorite movie, and a picnic dinner.

Slow Cooked BBQ BeefOur Slow Cooked BBQ Beef with Rustic Country Rolls travels easily from your kitchen to the park. Just cook in a slow cooker, unplug, and take it with you. Then fix the sandwiches and serve with a salad while you are waiting for the entertainment to start.

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It’s National Picnic Month with Dream Dinners

Outlaw Chicken SlidersOutdoors. Fresh air. Sunshine. It’s the perfect time to take the family for a walk or drive to your favorite picnic spot and enjoy the great outdoors… with great food, of course.  America has the most beautiful parks to serve as a backdrop for great family memories.  From the Golden Gate in San Francisco to New York’s Central Park, every corner of our nation offers green fields, spectacular views and sometimes even free park movies & summer concerts. Check out the nearest park at the official site for the National Park Service.

Which Dream Dinners travel easiest?

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Camp Out with our Canadian Bacon Friend

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Sun. Fun. Take. Bake. Or toast over a campfire. Whether you head to the lake, the beach, or the wilderness, wherever your plans take you this year, there is one sandwich that needs to ride shotgun. Why? Because it’s perfect!  Perfect for breakfast.  Perfect for brunch. Perfect for lunch or dinner.  And, because there is nothing else like it on the planet in terms of ingredients, you look like a rockstar compared to those chain sandwich shops.

You can bake this in an oven, or on the grill, which is something that we don’t often talk about-but its true. The flavor is fantastic. We’re talking about the

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Behind the Wheel: Dream Dinners Travel

Sometimes the cost of travel and the search for a good restaurant when you really just want to relax from a road trip can task a vacation with more errands. If you’re headed to a cabin or beach house, this month there are several entrees you can pack and take with you in our new freezer bags. They travel great and keep your Dream Dinners frozen for hours.

When you arrive, you’ve got one step cooking with these entrees:

chicken_enchiladasChicken Enchiladas are another great traveling dish for the weekend and they are voted a customers favorite. Our Chicken Enchiladas have all the ingredients for a balanced dinner in one dish that you can pop in the oven without doing any other prep. When it’s done

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