An Organized Vacation is a Relaxing Vacation

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An Organized Vacation is a Relaxing Vacation

Summer is  here – the most popular time of year to go on vacation. While you may be looking forward to your vacation destination, you may be dreading the last-minute scrambling that typically accompanies your pursuit of relaxation. These tips will help make sure your trip is actually as relaxing and enjoyable as you’ve imagined it will be by helping you get organized before you leave.

Have a single place where all of your travel information is stored.  Use a notebook, file folder or binder to hold your itinerary, airline tickets, car rental information, passports, maps, travel agent information, brochures, etc.

Use lists to help you make sure that you have everything taken care of before you leave. You should have a packing list for each family member, as well as a to-do list of all the things you need to take care of before you go. My APPLES Resource Guide includes a comprehensive vacation checklist to help you get started.

Prepare instructions for whoever is taking care of your house, mail, pets and plants.  If members of more than one family will be caring for these items, let them know who the other people are so they won’t be surprised to see them in your home. Write down exactly what you expect each person to do while you’re gone. Give them phone numbers where they can reach you in an emergency (both hotel and cell phone numbers). 

Set aside an area to accumulate your travel necessities as you pack. A spare bedroom or an unused corner of a bedroom is ideal. Start gathering things several weeks before you’re scheduled to leave so that you don’t have to endure a last minute shopping and packing marathon. You don’t have to actually start packing the suitcases yet (although you can), but at least start to pull together some of the items on your packing list. If you’ll be traveling to a different climate, make sure everyone’s off-season clothing still fits.

Think carefully about what clothing needs to go with you.  Many people pack significantly more clothing than is necessary. Carefully consider the weather and the activities in which you’ll be participating. If you can avoid changing clothes every day, you may be able to lighten your load and save on baggage fees. Also consider wearing some of your grungiest, most worn out clothing (including socks and undies) for long car trips.  After you’ve worn it, you can throw it out and make room for the souvenirs that you pick up along the way. If you plan on some of those souvenirs being t-shirts, pack fewer shirts at home.

Set a budget ahead of time. Nothing ruins a vacation as quickly as the constant refrain of “No” when your kids (or fellow adults!) ask you to buy something for them. Communicate ahead of time how much you’re willing to spend on souvenirs, and then stick to your budget. Consider being nonjudgmental about how your kids choose to spend their allotted souvenir money – if it’s not illegal, immoral, or dangerous, and it will fit in the suitcase, you can use it as a teaching moment. Not only will they learn that once they’ve spent their allotted funds there’s no more money available, but they might also learn that photographs, postcards, and memories of good times will last longer than any trinket.

If you’re traveling by car, have it serviced before you go. Don’t wait until the last minute in case your mechanic has to order a part that might otherwise delay your trip. Make sure you have an emergency kit on board, including a flashlight (with spare batteries), first aid kit, and jumper cables.

Enjoy yourself.  Have a great trip, and make notes about any suggestions you may have for making your next trip even more enjoyable.

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