Surviving College Road Trips…

It’s that time of year.  College acceptance letters are beginning to arrive and your child will soon be heading on a new journey.  All you can think about is how much you will miss them and if they are truly ready to be on their own. But first, they must choose a school, and choosing the right one will be a challenge for the entire family. It doesn’t help that the complete college preparation and selection process nowadays is beyond overwhelming for both parents and students. There are so many schools to choose from, so many scholarships and programs to consider, SAT/ACT scores, extra-curricular activities, on and on and on, and I will say, not every school is for every student, as with most situations in life.

Our daughter started college last fall and we are blessed that everything is going well so far.  She just headed back to school from winter break and was excited to return (a very good sign).

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Our daughter at the University of Notre Dame during freshman move-in weekend.

We visited several schools throughout the selection process and learned many lessons along the way, here are a few of them:

PPPR College Road Trip Title

Plan accordingly.
So many schools, so little time.  Make sure your child has done research and has an idea of what they are looking for and then as a family, decide which ones are on the short list.  Sometimes there are so many schools to visit, we as parents may try to cram in as many in one visit as possible. Please do not make this mistake. There is usually a lot of driving involved between schools. Additionally, visits can sometimes seem overwhelming with information overload.  At times, our daughter preferred to skip the information session and just tour the grounds (after a while, most of these sessions all start to sound similar).  Also, if you visit too many schools on one trip, you may risk your child being exhausted by the end and not really showing interest in the final few (this happened to us as well).  And if you live in the south, make sure your child visits schools up north during the winter months, as the extreme temperature changes will be eye openers for some!

PPPR Campus Tour Title

Have fun.
Just because you will be visiting college campuses does not mean you cannot have fun (a day trip to Disneyland was a must on our UCLA and USC trip). Visits are comprised of more than just information sessions and campus tours.  Our daughter and a friend from high school were on the same trip and they met up with some students from the university that had previously attended their high school. This provided a great opportunity for them to visit dorm rooms and get a perspective from current students.  Get to know the town, this may be your child’s home for the next 4 years. Where are the nearest restaurants, shopping centers, movie theatres, etc. Do a bit of sightseeing if time permits. There will be something captivating about each school, even those that will eventually get eliminated as choices.

College

Talk.  A lot.
In the evenings, usually while we were having dinner or settling in for the night, we would ask our daughter how the day went and if the school met her expectations.  Many times, schools that she was excited about were quickly dropped off the list and vice-versa.  But let your child express their thoughts and feelings and only provide advice as needed.  After all, this is (mainly) their decision.

I hope you enjoy your college road trips when the time comes.  I would love to hear how they went…

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What’s In My Carry-On?

With summer is full swing, and many of us getting ready to leave on vacation, I thought it would be the perfect time to come up with a quick list of what to pack in your carry-on.  First let me say that I always over pack, even after so many years of traveling, I just always feel as if I’m leaving something behind. And I’m also not the kind of person that likes to go shopping for toothpaste when I get to my destination…I want to spend all my time sightseeing and relaxing.  So naturally, packing my carry-on is very important to me.  Since most of the  flights I take average 9 hours, after a while, I start to feel a bit claustrophobic, so I need to feel comfortable and keep busy to make the time go by faster.  I also like to carry some snacks for all of us, as we sometimes forgo the plane meals, or fall asleep during the meal times.  Here are my carry-on must-haves:

Snacks for the flight...

Snacks for the flight…

I love to buy a large bottle of water at the airport and keep myself hydrated during the flight. Snacks like almonds, Cheerios and peanut butter are healthy and yummy.  We always pack gum too, as it helps with the ear popping during take-off and landing.  And of course, a little piece of chocolate never hurt anyone!

My carry-on essentials...

My carry-on essentials…

My husband always makes fun of me saying I carry a small CVS in my bag.  I always bring my travel document holder (which includes itineraries, boarding passes, emails from hotels and our passports), my iPad to watch movies, with of course a good set of Beats headphones, a good book and some cozy socks. But I also need to pack things like Advil for headaches (which I tend to suffer from), Visine for my eyes, which get very dry when I’m flying, some hand cream and a travel toothbrush.  If you’re wondering about the Afrin, I also get very congested sometimes.  And of course I never leave home without some hand wipes and my camera!

So, what are your carry-on must-haves?  I’d love to compare notes in case I’m forgetting something!

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