Molly Sims has mastered the art of family vacations.
The mother of three—sons Brooks, 6 and Grey, 1, and daughter Scarlett, 3—knows exactly what to pack (and how to over-prepare) when traveling with her kids, especially when she’s the only parent on the trip.
“Be prepared for like a 104° fever, a meltdown, spilt milk,” Sims, 45 tells PEOPLE. “Just be prepared for a hurricane coming through at all times. That is my biggest advice.”
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The model, actress, and lifestyle blogger admitted that she has learned that overpacking is key when it comes to traveling with kids in tow. She packs each child’s belongings in their own suitcase, and makes sure they each have changes of clothes, iPads and food before they leave their house.
“You cannot bring just one snack,” says Sims, who partnered with Chase and Hyatt to announce their World of Hyatt Chase credit card. “You have to bring nine snacks, but times it by three because they all want the same snack in their own bag.”
A few essentials she always packs when on mom duty are a thermometer, lotion, extra Ziploc bags, garbage bags, Motrin, Tylenol and wet wipes. For her own guilty pleasures, Sims always totes a book, a cashmere wrap, face or eye masks, and snacks for herself, like almond butter bars in her carry on.
However, while the celeb mom has the prep work down to a science, once she’s on vacation, she prefers to be hands off. The actress will typically opt for a hotel over an Airbnb with her family because hotels have more structured activities for her kids to enjoy and she appreciates the luxury of having assistance at her fingertips.
“I don’t really want to have to set everything up,” Sims says. “I like having a hotel so that I have a spa or a gym. I have healthy food. I’m not going to be mad at a kids club. I’m not going to be mad at a pool.”
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Currently, Sims is on vacation with her husband Scott Stuber, 49, and her kids in the Hamptons, but she has enjoyed taking her children to various destinations closer to her L.A. home, like Santa Barbara, San Diego and Anaheim, where the children can enjoy experiences like zoos, theme parks and water slides. Sims also loves taking her kids to Cabo in Mexico, where kids and parents alike can relax.
“I will say there’s nothing better than kids, a margarita and some Cabo sun,” Sims says.
One place the New York Times bestselling author is “dying” to take her children that they haven’t traveled to yet is the Everglades and the Florida Keys, which she frequented as a kid.
“It’s really something I think my kids will love,” Sims says. “They’ll get to see crocodiles and alligators and get to go fishing and be in that gorgeous water. I really remember that.”
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However, no matter where she’s traveling with her family, she admits that even though it’s fun making those memories, it can still be difficult.
“It can be really draining traveling with kids,” Sims says. “So you have to be really vigilant and extra organized.”