Family Vacations: Stress Free Packing!

Whether you are traveling with children or traveling alone, packing for an upcoming trip can be a burden. Don't let packing for your trip exhaust you before you even get your foot out the door.  Take the stress out of packing by with travel lists. Travel lists help you plan ahead and stay organized. Most importantly, once these personalized lists are created, they can be used over and over again. Read on to discover how these simple, yet effective travel lists can help you enjoy your vacation from start to finish!

Keep Packing Lists: Make complete lists of those items you usually take with you on vacation. Whether you travel to the same or different locations each year, you will find this list invaluable. Save your packing list on your computer or simply keep it in a "vacation" binder. You can have multiple lists organized according to season or categories.  When preparing seasonal lists, make sure to include season specific items. Your Winter vacation list should include items such as hats & gloves, boots, ski equipment and more. Your Summer vacation list should include items such as sunscreen, beach bag, bathing suits and flip-flops. Remember to update your lists after each vacation to include any items you may have forgotten.

Sample lists to create might include: clothing (winter or summer); medications & vitamins; toiletries & beauty; foods; supermarket shopping lists; travel documents (tickets, reservations, travel directions), electronic devices and chargers (camera, phone, ipods, gameboy); baby supplies & equipment (diapers, formula, strollers); kids' activities bag for car, restaurant or plane ( coloring books, stickers, word finds etc.); important contact phone numbers.

Food Supply Lists: Whether your destination has a convenience kitchen or you are planning to dine out, you should be prepared for mealtime.  If you have picky eaters traveling with you, write down a list of favorite foods that you can take with you (cereal, crackers etc.) or to purchase when you arrive. Likewise, if you plan to use a convenience kitchen, write down any family meal ideas and a shopping list for your trip to the supermarket. These lists should be updated and kept for future use.

Kids & Packing: To simply matters, limit children to one backpack of "stuff." Encourage them to carry and be responsible for their own backpack. Limit the number of items they can take (ie: 5 small toys, 2 electronic devices) and the size of items (items should be able to fit inside their backpack.) Encourage them to write down and include in their backpack a list of their belongings. Make sure to count belongings along with them before you leave home, and once again before you leave your hotel. Know exactly what they are taking with them so you don't wind up searching for "missing" things that are actually home safely in their rooms! One exception might include an extra special bedtime stuffed animal too precious to replace. You may wish to personally pack this priceless possession in the grown-up "carry-on" luggage.

Print Clothing Check Lists: Print or xerox your lists for family members to use as a packing check list,  For example, give older children a print out of your Winter or Summer clothing list so they can learn to pack independently. Keep the list simple and general, but include specific amounts. (For example: 4 pairs of underwear, 5 long sleeve shirts, 1 pair of pajamas, 4 pairs of socks, etc. etc…) Have children check off these items as they place them in a neat pile.  It is highly recommended that you double check their selections and for any missing items before packing them into luggage.

Record Luggage Pieces:  Count and record the number of luggage pieces and equipment (such as strollers, sporting goods) you are taking.  Double check this list when you are leaving your home and also when you depart your hotel. This list helps prevent leaving anything necessities or valuables behind.

Keep a "Before You Leave" To Do List: In the frenzy before you leave your home, you are most prone to forget important tasksl  Keep a check list of home chores such as: turning on the house alarm; throwing out remaining garbage; putting on light timers; locking windows and doors and turning down heat. Don't forget items which should be done in advance such as stopping the mail & newspaper or advising a trusted neighbor of your vacation plans and contact numbers.

Take a Vacation Binder: Take your vacation binder with you. Store all of your important information in a small binder. Keeping all of your important information together can make for a smooth trip and also serves as a great guide for next time. Keep your travel documents; contact phone numbers (hotel, rental car, travel agent, pediatrician, neighbor); driving directions and maps; extra copy of your packing lists and print out of hotel amenities or sightseeing information. For road trips, it is helpful to include some looseleaf paper to record trip details such as the names and locations of favorite rest stops or restaurants; a record of driving times and mileage; any new shortcuts or roads to avoid next time around.

Final words of advice…

Don't leave packing to the last minute!!! The last minute rush only serves to put more pressure on yourself, increases your chances of forgetting things and can start your vacation off on a sour note.

Save Your Lists!: Remember to save your valuable travel lists from year to year. Who has time to recreate them or remember everything listed on them???? Keep them in a safe place such as your vacation binder so they are availbale for next time.


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