Seasonal Organizing Solutions!
Erin Nield, Professional Organizer
Home Organize It! and It's About Time Organizing Service
(c) copyright 2005 HomeOrganizeIt.com
The S.O.S. delivers Seasonal Organizing Solutions from the world of Home Organize It!. Filled with timely tips, it's designed to be your seasonal "Organizing Supplement."
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Table Of Contents
1. Getting Organized For Family Travel
2. Planning And Packing For A Trip
3. Packing Checklists
When I sent out the Spring Issue of Home Organize It! S.O.S., it was 25 degrees here in the Midwest, USA. Fast forward three months and add 70 degrees. Yep, it's been in the 90's for a couple of weeks now. So I am thinking sun, sand and beaches! And hopefully some of you are heading out to enjoy as much.
I hope you were able to get your cars and closets organized and that you did a little decluttering rewarded by profits from your garage sale! Perhaps your garage sale earnings were ear-marked for a family vacations this summer!
Our family just returned from a trip and I thought it appropriate to focus the Summer S.O.S. Issue on getting organized and packing for a vacation. One of the biggest struggles our family experiences when taking a trip is over-packing and having a loaded car. This has kind of evolved into a "Family Challenge" to see who can bring the least amount of stuff but still have every thing they need :)
Please use any of the ideas and checklists merely as a guideline. You will need to add or disregard according to your family's needs. Oh yes, and be sure to visit
for realistic organizing tips and ideas for your home and your life. Now, Let's Organize For That Vacation!
1. Getting Organized For Family Travel
Preparing yourselves and your home for a vacation does not have to be a huge, stressful undertaking. First you need to break it down into several smaller do-able tasks.
Start with a Pre-Checklist
What's a Pre-Checklist? It's the first list you make by writing down anything you think you will need in no particular order. You will then take this list, set up categories and transfer everything from your Pre-Checklist under the appropriate category.
Below are some category ideas to get you started. Add and remove as necessary.
What To Pack
What to Buy
What To do Before Leaving
Clothes To Bring
Keep your Pre-Checklist handy for a few days and add to it as you think of things. Then be sure you have transferred everything to a category.
Ideally we would all like to travel light but most of us find this rather challenging, especially when travelling with children. There are also the "unknowns" such as the weather, how dressy a restaurant is and what ammenities are provided.
The good news is that setting up a checklist will help you stay organized and also help keep you from over-packing.
The following ideas of things to do, buy and consider are not necessary for all trips. Please read it and take from it only what is appropriate for your type of trip.
If you're going out of the country, you'll need to allow sufficient time to get birth certificates, passports, immunizations and necessary legal documents in order. I recommend approximately 2-3 months before a trip.
If you are flying, confirm your reservations as much time ahead as possible. Also arrange for car rentals and hotels.
Assess your luggage needs
Do you want/need:
Taking a sports-oriented trip?
Try things on
Do a trial set-up (tents, etc.)
Replace things as necessary
4-6 Weeks Out
Do you have Maps? A good Guide Book?
Re-confirm airline, bus, train reservations and try to get seating assignments.
If traveling by car, decide what maintenance should be done and schedule an appointment. Do you need:
Windshield blade replacement
Locate any home security/automation devices you will use. These might include light timers, alarm systems and motion detectors. Make sure you know how to use them so you aren't trying to take care of this at the last minute.
2-4 Weeks Out
Arrange for house sitter
Arrange for pet sitter
Make list of important phone numbers including the house and pet sitter, doctor and so on.
Decide how you will pay for things:
*Check with your bank to make sure there are ATM's where you are going
Check your camera equipment. Make sure you have:
Extra memory stick
1-2 Weeks Out
Wash all clothes you might be taking
Divide your shopping lists into:
Try to purchase all non-perishables this week
Start packing (See Packing Tips below)
Mow the lawn
Arrange for mail to be picked up
Stop newspaper delivery or have neighbor pick up daily
If you have water and/or milk delivery, arrange for delivery suspension
Pay bills that will come due while you are away
If you will be gone during the school year, make arrangements with your child's teacher/s
1-2 Days Out
Give keys and detailed instructions to house/pet sitter/neighbor. Also provide:
Emergency phone numbers
Complete last-minute packing (see Packing Tips below)
Walk through the house and:
Unplug small appliances
Turn off water
Close and lock windows and doors
2. Planning and Packing For A Trip
# 1. Goal: Pack As Light As Possible!
This definitely takes some thoughtful planning but you will enjoy the benefits. Easy to carry luggage, non-cluttered car, organized hotel room/camper. Just think how nice that will be...
It's no fun traveling in a loaded car or carrying heavy bulging luggage. It is even less fun coming home with more than you came with, particularily if you didn't use half of what you brought!
So let's get organized. Take the time to plan and really think about how you can trim your travel items.
Try to let everyone pack for themselves (except small children of course!). This is a life skill that your children will need over and over again. By about age 10, most children should be able to pack entirely by themselves. Really! It's okay to check what they packed but I encourage you to teach them young.
Each person should have their own bag. Car bags should be separate. Actually, with car bags, you might want to set some rules. At the very least, give each person one small bag and tell them they can only take what fits in it and still be able to close it.
Tips to help you make some decisions:
Pack clothes that won't show stains too much:
Choose a color scheme for mixing and matching and choose outfits that can double for both casual and dressy
Pack clothes you can layer easily
Choose clothes that don't wrinkle too much:
To reduce wrinkling when packing, try some of these methods:
Put heavier items on bottom
Stuff nice clothes with tissue
Put socks inside shoes and use shoe bags
Roll clothes after folding
Pack suitcase tight--shifting causes wrinkles
Choose jackets that will work with most outfits. For example, in our part of the country, many women wear denim jackets in a variety of dress situations.
For real young kids, pack a complete outfit, underwear and socks included, in a large zip style bag.
Choose accessories that work with several outfits.
A note about toiletries:
Travel sizes are usually more expensive but they tend to pay off in other ways. You can dramatically reduce the weight of your toiletry bag by paying a little extra and purchasing travel size items.
This is similar for snacks. It may make sense to bring pre-packaged snacks even if a bit more costly. This helps reduce waste, spillage and they are lighter and easier to pack.
Remember to choose "Low Mess" foods:
Things that don't leave crumbs
Things that won't drip or stain
Invest in no-spill cups and bottles too...forget the juice boxes with straws!
3. Packing Checklists
List of emergency contacts
Sunburn relief lotion
Hair care supplies
Hair dryer (some hotels provide)
Nail care supplies
Diaper changing needs
Belt bag/Waist pack
Memory stick (digital)
Extra car keys
Books on CD
Small bag for trash
Small cooler/softpack cooler
Planning and Organizing before any trip can add considerable enjoyment for the whole family. In this busy, hurried world, our vacation time is very precious. I hope these ideas, suggestions and checklists will help contribute to a memorable vacation for you and your family.
Be sure to print out this Newsletter and put it in your Travel File. You will easily be able to refer to it again and again. Once you've made your personalized checklist, print a copy and check items off as you pack. Change the checklist for each trip accordingly. It's quick and easy!
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I wish you safe travels...
See you in the Fall!
All The Best,
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