It's vacation time. We're getting ready to visit wonderful places. Every home manager knows pre-planning can make the takeoff easier.
The first strategy is to designate a gathering place to serve as the launching pad to collect the things you want to take as ideas come to mind. Many thoughts come only once, so act on them. If you can't do it right now, because you're at work or such, write the idea down to be reviewed as you are packing. This strategy can save forgotten items, embarrassment, irritation or inconvenience.
Plan what to take. If you wait until the last minute, you may take too much and the wrong things. Think of possible needs. You don't want to forget necessities.
You don't want to take too much. Consider what not to pack. Don't take might-needs or maybes, only the things you are sure to need. Cut back on duplicates, only take one of each type.
Taking too much with you is a burden, and you want freedom. If you are not a frequent traveler, ask for suggestions from someone who is experienced or who has been there recently.
Last In, First Out
If possible, pack so that you don't have to unload everything each day. One family separates the play and dress clothes. Everyone's best things are packed together in one suitcase. Casual vacation clothes are packed in small canvas bags, one for each family member. They each take only two changes of clothes, the third is on their back. They stop to do a batch of laundry every other day. Every child is in charge of his or her own bag, a lesson in responsibility.
Obviously, the way you pack depends on the type of vacation, how many people are going and where you will be staying. Another family packs by the day--Tuesday's suitcase, Wednesday's, Thursday's, etc. All the needs for that one day are packed together and you only have to remove one bag besides the cosmetic case. Soiled clothing is stuffed into a duffel bag.
To save the last-day or midnight vigil at the washing machine, one mother sets up the suitcases in the laundry area and packs as she is doing the wash several days ahead of departure. The family has to do without their favorite clothing for a day or two.
Making a Pocket Caddy
If traveling by car, make a pocket caddy to carry items most often needed while riding: maps, tissues, wipes, shoes, books or games. Pin a pocket-shoe bag to the back of the car seat, or create your own pocket seat cover to fit. To make: Drape a piece of fabric over the front seat, about half way down, also covering the back of the seat. Cut a hole for the headrest if necessary. Fit the fabric to the shape of the seat with large safety pins or make tucks and stitch. Sew as many pockets as possible on the back surface. Pin a long piece of elastic to the front of the caddy, run it through the crack and pin it to the back of the pocket bag to hold it in place.
To avoid hunting for coats and sweaters at every stop, place them all together in a draw-string pillowcase when you are not wearing them. The bundle doubles as a pillow.
Give some thought to activities to entertain the children for long car trips. I allow my children to take a small tote bag in which to keep things-to-do. It serves as a container (designating a belonging place), and also creates a limit (governing quantity). The children are counseled to leave space in the bag for new things that may be acquired along the way. Sharp pencils can be dangerous, crayons make a mess if they melt, markers stain, so I prefer short colored pencils.
Surprises on a Schedule
Years ago, when we went on a 10-day trip, we initiated a time-line to break up the boredom of riding in the car for our young children. Children need a little bit of routine, even on vacation. It helped to pass the time, it gave them something to look forward to.
Surprises were gathered before departure and wrapped to make them enticing. The morning surprise was some sort of activity that they could do while riding: plastic shapes to trace, stickers, coloring books, paper strips and tape to make chains, a bingo game, pipe-cleaners to make creatures, etc. My guidelines were items that were not too loud, messy, dangerous or expensive. Some days the surprise was one package for the whole family, at other times each child received one. The afternoon surprise was usually a snack entertaining in itself, such as licorice ropes.
This tradition wasn't expensive. We probably would have bought something on the road anyway, but choices at tourist stops are very limited. This way, I had time to plan the activities and treats in advance, and since I had them with me, I could introduce the surprise packages at the best or worst time.
Before leaving, you'll want to arrange for someone to check the house or apartment and pick up the mail, or have it held at the post office. Stop the newspaper, arrange for yard care and pets. Just before you leave, unplug appliances--but not the freezer. Check windows and doors and adjust the furnace or air conditioner and hot water heater.