I unlocked a new level of hosting. Let me tell you what I did.

links + small things

I knew my brother and his family were visiting at the end of May. He and his wife have a two-year-old daughter, so I was kicking around ideas of things we could do that works for kids ages 9 and below. My brother’s family was going to be staying with me, and my parents were planning to drive up to my sister’s house, who also lives in Raleigh, to stay with them.

The whole crew was going to be in town (or as my dad would call it, “the fam-damly”).

There are 7 kids between my brother, sister, and myself, all ranging in age from 7 weeks to 9.5 years old.

I wanted to show a bit of Raleigh to Marc and Jess and make sure to choose places that would work for their two-year-old daughter.

Prior to their visit, a few weeks ago Justin and I took the kids on a quick weekend trip to visit friends in Virginia, near the Shenandoah Valley. In anticipation of that visit, the husband of the family we were going to be spending a lot of time with sent out an itinerary.

Other than trips for work, I’ve never been given an itinerary for a casual weekend trip, and I just have to say that I *loved* it.

Over that weekend, I got to experience how smooth the flow was, how everyone knew what the plan for the day was going to be, how people had the ability to opt out of anything they wanted to, or we could collectively agree to change the schedule due to rain. It was such an efficient way to organize a large group of people for a very short time.

Itineraries are not a mind-blowing life hack, I get it, but it truly never occurred to me to have a flexible plan for when friends or family visited. I was always of the mindset that we would have a leisurely time and just chat about what we wanted to do on any given day. But that doesn’t easily work with larger groups, and the timing of activities can be tough with little kids!

So after the successful weekend in Virginia, I spent a few hours on the ride home making the itinerary for my brother’s visit. I knew their daughter’s schedule for the day, and I knew what my sister would like for Liam, so I put that all together in a shared note.

Everything was open to adjusting, and I asked for feedback from my mom and sister. We changed a few of the meal ideas but otherwise stuck to the itinerary.

I thought it worked so well! Everyone knew what to expect, and when to expect it, so there wasn’t time wasted sitting inside and throwing ideas around to see what we could do.

It was a full weekend, but I wanted to show a few parts of Raleigh to Marc and Jess so they could see a little bit of what our life is like here.

We went to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, Pullen Park, Jack Smith Park, and also spent time swimming in my backyard pool and playing at Lauren’s house. We made pizzas for one of the dinners, and the next night we grilled out and ate dinner on the porch.

We didn’t quite have the warm and sunny weather I was hoping for, but nevertheless, we made the most of it and we were all thoroughly exhausted by Sunday night.

Justin and I have been making a loose plan for our weekends at home ever since we had little kids, and I truly don’t know why it never occurred to me to organize a plan for when friends or family visited. My personality and my kids’ personalities are such that we prefer to have some kind of plan for the day. Even if we don’t go anywhere, as long as we know the layout of what will happen at what part of the day, it allows us to be fully present and enjoy that time.

If you’re hosting at all this summer or simply want to maximize your days off, the time spent thinking through an itinerary will likely pay off in dividends. It sure did for me.


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Jessica says · 05.25.23

I do this!! It helps ME immensely to visualize and mentally prepare and when I do all the “thinking” beforehand I can be more present during the visit. I canNOT with wasted time tinkering around trying to decide what to do when there are lots of opinions flying around – or the opposite- when no one has an opinion and it’s an hour of “I don’t care, what do you want to do?” A plan is a must for me!

Tanya says · 05.25.23

I love this idea… it makes so much sense!

Tricia says · 05.25.23

love this idea! we are having a (surprise) bday weekend for my dad at an air bnb with all my siblings. I think I’m going to write up a loose itinerary for the weekend. Thanks!

Kim says · 05.25.23

I thought everyone did this 🤣

Tami says · 05.25.23

Game changer! We have done this on larger trips but never really for weekend get together. Thanks for the idea!!

Tiffany says · 05.25.23

I have a good friend who did this for us when we visited and I loved it. I’d love to see your example though!

Janet says · 05.25.23

This is 100%my jam! I love a good plan. My daughter n law has a sister who does this every trip they go on. I have started doing this when we travel as well. I am a regular planner in our daily life so it just made it natural to do it when we travel or host as well!
Stuff like this is why I have been following you for all the years!
Thanks Kate for sharing!

Casey Hensley says · 05.25.23

Such a great idea!! Do you have a loose template you could share?

Caitlin says · 05.25.23

My MIL does this for our big family vacation each spring. She sets up dinners and other events (guys golf each day, special grandma/grandkids breakfast, parents special dinner out.) It seemed like overkill the first year I went but honestly it’s so nice to know what to expect and to know what’s for dinner each night.

Eileen Messmer says · 05.25.23

This is brilliant!!

Jinger Huggins says · 05.25.23

My Type A, double Capricorn with Virgo Rising- Self absolutely LOVES this! Schedules and itineraries are practically my love language and I truly don’t understand why more people don’t appreciate them like I do, lol. Life is so much easier with a Plan! 🙂

Lee Harrison says · 05.25.23

We’ve done that for years. I don’t dense-pack the days, but I usually have two events or outings a day and the meals/reservations all planned.

Karen says · 05.27.23

I have never thought about this either but it makes perfect sense! You waste so much time tossing around ideas that the day gets away from you! I am sure your brother and his family enjoyed their visit!

Kate says · 05.31.23


Heidi says · 05.28.23

I have never done this! Would you mind sharing the itinerary?! Wondering how detailed to get- I’m intrigued.

Tara says · 05.29.23

Hi there!
That’s a great hack 🙂 I am totally like you in having a plan ahead of time. I do the same when family or friends are visiting or when we are traveling together to a new place. Itineraries and meal plans take away so much discussion time and uncertainty and makes life so much easier and enables us make the most of our limited time together. So good to hear you had a perfect fam dam time 😍

Amanda says · 05.30.23

My cousin did this when we visited her in Seattle several years ago and it was AMAZING. I loved that I was able to look stuff up ahead of time and get excited about what we were going to do. Last week we visited family in Wilmington, NC and my brother-in-law did the same thing. This time we had our almost-3-year-old with us, and he created the itinerary in a shared Google doc, and I was able to add in the kinds of things my kid likes to eat, and other notes that would make our week easier.

Kate says · 05.31.23

Glad to hear it worked well for you!

Kerry says · 02.29.24

I do this for every single trip, whether it’s a weekend or a month long. While there is a lot of work ahead of time, it makes the trip easy and everyone knows where to be. In addition it gives the adults and kids something tangible to use their time wisely and look forward to events ahead.
I use a blank template, print, write in events and then type in. It also works as my go to place for flight numbers, confirmation numbers, phone numbers and a brief summary of each event.❤️

Melinda Nelson says · 03.02.24

Love this idea!