Designate The Travel Info Depot
For technology lovers, there are several online tools that can help you put it all together – Microsoft OneDrive and Evernote are both widely used information capturing tools that will allow you to take folders of information with you on your tablet or phone. TripIt is a great app that allows you to forward, via email, all of your confirmations (air, hotel, tours, etc.) into one app that provides a day to day itinerary on your smart phone or laptop. A quick review of available mobile apps will reveal even more options.
Traditional paper works as well – it could be a separate divider in a household notebook, a special vacation section in a paper planner, or a tray with all your paper hotel and airline reservations; just keeping all travel information in a single, easy-to-find spot will make all the difference. I often create a portable travel file for my clients using a presentation binder. E-tickets, confirmations, restaurant reservations and more can be inserted into the plastic pages and taken with you for easy access as you travel.
Extra tip: leave behind a complete copy of your itinerary, as well as a copy of your passport if you’re leaving the country, with a family member who is not traveling with you.
The List Lovers’ Delight
Whether online or on paper, lists will save you from over-packing, over-buying, or even worse – simply leaving something behind! Some essentials:
• list of what needs to be taken care of in your house while away (pets, plants, mail)
• list of what to pack for each family member going on your trip
• list of confirmation numbers, hotel addresses, flight numbers, rental car confirmation number, limo phone number, name of pet kennel, etc. (This can be in TripIt, your presentation binder, or on a one-page list.
• list of what needs to be done upon your return (turn on water, pick up stopped mail, retrieve pet from kennel, change outgoing voice mail message, etc.)
Pick a Packing Place
If you’re fortunate to have a spare room, designate that as the “staging area” for your trip. If you don’t have an extra room, even designating a corner within a lightly used room can get you the space you need for staging your stuff.
Set up the suitcases, and when you decide what’s coming with you, take it into that room, even if you’re weeks away from packing.
Don’t forget electrical converters if you’re going out of the country. Make sure you have travel-sizes of all your products if you’re flying. Simply having everything in one place will allow you to see if you’re in danger of over-packing even before you touch a suitcase.
One tip I use is putting all toiletries and cosmetics in a travel case in my bathroom. I use only the contents of that case to get ready the two days prior to my trip. This helps me confirm that I haven’t forgotten to “pack” anything essential. Be sure to include some OTC remedies (headache, upset stomach, nausea meds, etc.), especially if you’re leaving the country; you may not be able to find the brands you prefer.
Journal Your Trip
If you think you’ll remember every restaurant or meal or fun activity, it simply won’t happen – at least not for a long time. Why not bring a small notebook with you to jot down the names of your favorite places or great people you meet?
You can also make notes to yourself for a future trip – which places are closed on Sundays, which places require a dress code, etc.
Consider purchasing a postcard at each site you visit, and jotting a few memories on the back of it. Assemble all the cards when you get home for an instant travel log.
Wishing you fun, safe and organized travels this summer!