The best vacations are usually the ones you’re most prepared for. Rushing to get to the airport or start a long journey at the last minute isn’t ever enjoyable. Depending on if you’re organized ahead of time, this can make or break the trip. Usually the vacations that are not well-planned cause you much frustration and you end up frazzled while you’re dealing with all the loose ends. This year you can be geared up! If you’re traveling by plane, car, train, or bus you can follow these simple tips to organize your travel plans.
1. Do your research. If you’re staying at a hotel or someone’s home, find out what amenities are already there. Also, consider the weather. For example, will you need an umbrella for a subtropical climate like the U.S. east coast or western Europe? Make sure you also check the weather for the days you’ll be in the vacation area the night before you leave (the weather.com application on my iPhone is usually pretty accurate). This way you can pack any additional things you may need. If you are flying, make sure you’re aware of items prohibited by the Transportation Safety Administration (check www.tsa.gov). Plan to pack light if you want to avoid airline baggage fees for more than one “large” suitcase.
2. Make a checklist of items to pack. Your list should should be started at least a week before you leave. Start with clothing, toiletries, medication, and other important categories. As the week progresses, continue adding items as you think of them. If you are tech savvy, then you can compile the list on your laptop, electronic tablet, or smart phone. This way you can save it as a template and adapt it each time you travel.
3. Consider packing organizers. If you have them, use them. If you don’t, you may want to shop around for some. Commercial organizers can be well worth the cost if you travel frequently, or if you will be on vacation for an extended time. To start out, check the selection at The Container Store (www.containerstore.com).
4. Start packing early. Open your suitcase and start packing items you aren’t using. At least 24 hours before you take off, pack whatever is still left on your list (toiletries can go in last if you’re still using them). Pack your bag with the heaviest items on the bottom and place clothing on top. Be sure to pack travel-size toiletries in a plastic bag or container to protect your valuables from potential leaks. Store all of your travel information in one place. Include airline flight information, car rental details, itineraries, passport, etc. You can also pack a small trash bag to store dirty clothes and keep them separate from the clean ones.
5. Pack snacks. Whether you’re flying, driving, or riding to your destination, doing this is usually the most cost-effective and healthiest option. Airlines are cutting back on meal and snack service, and sometimes healthy food is not an option on road trips in rural areas, so pack healthy treats to hold you over.
6. Keep valuables with you. When you leave on your summer trip, make sure you have your driver’s license, passport, jewelry, medication, and other important articles with you at all times. This is crucial when you fly since airlines are often not responsible for valuables like laptops and jewelry that are lost or stolen in checked bags.