I started this blog initially to document what I thought was a rather unique set of experiences we were having: going on a music tour with the family in tow.
Not many people end up on tour with a musician at all, much less with children coming, too. Especially a bunch of children.
So I thought, since there are no further tours on the horizon for me and the kids, I probably ought to write down a few of the things I learned so I don't forget them if it ever comes to touring again.
When you hit a hotel for one night on the way to somewhere, or when you're staying in a hotel as part of a family vacation, you don't do it the same as when you're on tour.
Because on tour, that's daily life. It's not a vacation. It's not that we saved a bunch of money and budgeted in eating out every night. It's not even that we got to choose our own hotel. We go where they booked rooms for us, and stay in the rooms they chose (usually not ones I would pick), and, since we have all these kids coming along, we try our darndest to make it feel like real life because it turns out that it's not fun to be on vacation all the time in a place you wouldn't choose to go. Plus, for the kids, it's just another day doing something we've done a lot of times before. It's not so strange to stay in a hotel. It just means we get to watch TV, something we don't do at home. Ever.
We don't even generally go out and see the sights in the towns we stop in like I thought we would. For one thing, it's expensive--most places of interest charge you to get in, and that adds up REALLY fast when you have 8 people coming along, and there are not a lot of free places anymore. For another, it's easy to get lost. And, the biggest challenge, it's not time off for Tim. He's always working when we're on tour. So that leaves me taking six kids anywhere we go by myself, and Benji doesn't handle that well, and neither do I (normally, when the whole family goes out, we divide the work: one adult takes Benji. The other adult takes the other five kids.). Besides, who goes out every single day? Nobody. Mostly we like to just have a day, with a regular routine. Same as at home. We do try to do something cool in each town we go to--important to make memories, same as at home. We don't try to do something amazing every single day.
So, for this first "living on tour" blog post, I'm going to put in the list of things I always wish I had when I get to a hotel room. You'd think I'd always remember all these things, but I usually get there and go, "Shoot. I forgot ____ again." Maybe writing up the list will help!
--First Aid Kit (including allergy meds, bandaids, antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, sunscreen, bug spray, baby and kid medicines, ibuprofen, hand lotion, etc.)
--A roll of duct tape (for emergency repairs as well as for things like covering outlets so the babies don't get hurt)
--a night light, especially now that we always try to ask for two adjoining rooms.
--a card of thumb tacks (because hotel curtains never quite reach the wall, and consequently don't darken the room well)
--a package of strong safety pins in various sizes, including large skirt-pin size (because the curtains never meet in the middle, either)
--The Kitchen Kit (more on this later)
--Cleaning, disinfectant wipes like Clorox wipes OR a large bottle of "hanitizer" (alcohol-based hand sanitizer) and paper towels for cleaning up with
--Swimming kit (suits and life jackets for all kids, not packed with the other things and not even brought in unless the hotel has an appropriate pool).
--Activity kits in backpacks or duffle bags, one for each kid to carry in, but for everyone to share (things like a bag with blocks, one with legos, one with art supplies and coloring books, one with small games, one with hotwheels and tracks, one with "character" toys, one with books....stuff like that) so that we can do something besides watch TV all day. We've also contemplated taking the nintendo, but a lot of hotel TVs don't have the right hookups.
--ziploc bags in two sizes: gallon and sandwich
--the "desk" kit (scissors, pens and pencils, envelopes, paper)
--the magic jack (hotels always have a phone, this lets us get calls and make calls on our regular number for free)
--dustbuster style hand-held vacuum
--the School Kit (including a laptop with a wireless card AND .pdf assignments just in case of no internet access, the math books, everyone's work notebooks, pencils)
--and the usual clothes and toiletries that you need to live.
When we're on the road a lot, I just leave all of these packed (including the toiletries bag) and have duplicates of the things we use every day that stay at home. It's a whole lot easier than trying to pack and unpack and repack and unpack. Maybe that's why I keep forgetting the same things, like the thumb tacks. They aren't in the bag!