Oh Yeah, It's Vacation Time!
Whether by car, plane, with kids and pets, or without, the key to a relaxing vacation is planning ahead and yes, I’m saying it, “make lists!”
Once you’ve chosen the dates, start by shopping for the perfect destination. This can be done months in advance, especially if you are going around a holiday. Sign up for alerts to receive the best prices. This may take time, but it can be well worth the savings. This applies to airfare, hotel, and car rentals. Try to make all necessary reservations at one time. It’s easy to buy airline tickets months in advance and then forget you need a hotel the night before you leave because you want to be close to the airport. Or you get a great price on a cruise and then hold off buying airfare only to find out they are all sold out around the time you want to fly. Also, remember many places require a passport so if you don’t have one or need to renew, make it a priority. It can take months for you to receive.
*Check to make sure you have adequate luggage or duffel bags and replace or add new pieces if needed.
Traveling by Air
About a month prior to leaving, start to put together a checklist for everything that not only needs to be packed but all the arrangements that may need to be made. Do you need a house sitter, pet sitter, child care? Do you have airport transportation? Make your checklist(s) on the computer for easy changes and to save for future trips. Changes on a stored file are easy to make but remembering a list from your last trip may not be!
If the weather will be different where you are traveling, start to pack about 7-10 days ahead of time since most of the clothes you will be wearing aren’t needed. Check with the airline for baggage fees so you can determine how many pieces will be taken. Start your list with clothing. Run through all the outings or excursions you have planned and don’t forget to pack for the return home as the weather may be different. Think, layering and dual purpose. It’s easy to overpack when you are unsure of the dress code or don’t have everyday planned out. Just remember, some items can be worn more than once. For example, if you aren’t eating at the same restaurant each night, wear a dress twice. You probably only had it on for a couple hours anyway. Packing multiple wear items not only cuts down on weight but saves space.
*Before leaving for the airport, weigh luggage to make sure you're under the allowed amount. Airport scales tend to weigh heavier and it's easier to shovel items around at home then at the check in counter. Consider purchasing an inexpensive hand held scale that can travel with you!
Packing Your Bags
Lay all outfits out and include under garments, shoes, and belts. Remember, some of these items can be worn with multiple outfits as well as hand bags and jewelry.
Once the outfits have been chosen, roll them together to save on space in your bag. If it’s a multiple wear item, still roll it together. For example, if you are wearing the same pair of shorts twice but have two different tops, roll all three together. I suggest packing a couple plastic bags to separate clean from dirty for traveling back home. Plastic bags can also be used to pack shoes if you don’t want to invest in shoe bags. Don’t forget to leave room in the suitcase for purchases on your trip.
*Avoid odors and keep your luggage fresh with dryer sheets placed throughout. Your clothes will smell just as fresh as when they came out of the wash.
Air Travel Tips
If you’re traveling with more than one suitcase, pack as if one piece may not make it to the final destination the first couple days. Split the day and evening outfits, as well as shoes etc. This way no one is left without clothes if the luggage gets lost.
If vacationing for more than a few days, pack full size toiletries for items used often to avoid purchasing more. Put them in sealed plastic bags and place in between clothes to protect any bottles from breaking. I love hanging toiletry bags as they can be rolled or lay flat and have many zipper pockets. They can be hung in the bathroom and save on counter space.
I suggest each family member pack a carry on with one outfit, swimsuit (if needed), and a pair of shoes. Also include any expensive items such as, electronics, sunglasses, eye glasses/contacts, jewelry, make up, medication, cash and cards you will be taking. Most airlines don’t charge for carry-on’s and this will avoid an expensive trip to the store if your luggage is lost for a day or so.
*Before leaving for the airport, check the flight to make sure it’s on time, prepay for luggage, and make sure you have your seat assignments.
Travel by Car
If you’re planning on traveling by car, make sure to have any maintenance/oil changes done in advance. Check the spare tire and any other road side emergency items you may need. This is also a great time to clean out the car and prepare it for travel. If the trip involves kids and or pets, make sure to have some snacks and drinks on hand as well as entertainment to pass the time, pillows and, blankets. Put pet supplies such as a leash somewhere that's easy to access.
*Don’t forget the car chargers, tissue, a bag for trash, and headphones for listening devices.
The Week Before You Leave
Stop mail, pick up prescriptions, and dry cleaning, pay bills that will be due while gone, notify a neighbor if someone won’t be staying in your home.
If someone is staying with your kids while you travel, make sure to leave a well detailed note for them. This would include scheduled activities, special instructions for their daily routine, a signed medical release, a copy of your health insurance card, phone numbers for Dr.’s etc. and cash for incidentals.
*Don’t forget to stock food for the caregivers as well as the kiddos!
Last Minute Checklist for the Home With No Sitter
Turn down hot water heater, adjust the thermostat, turn off computers, run the dishwasher, close blinds, turn on lights, check fridge for food that could spoil, empty garbage inside. Make sure you have all required confirmations, passports, license, cash, and cards. As well as your cell phone, chargers and medication you can’t pack ahead of time.
*Following these suggestions will make for a much smoother, more relaxing time before and after your vacation!!