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Summer's here and school's almost out: For many, that means it's time to take to the road! Family vacation travel can be enriching, enjoyable and exciting--but only if you're organized.

The family that fails to plan for summer travel can end up frazzled, frustrated and longing for the quiet comfort of home.

This year, get ready! Whether it's car trips, plane travel or close-to-home "stay-cation" trips, we've assembled Organizing Lives best, easiest tips to organize summer vacation travel:



What To Know Before You Go

A smooth, stress-free vacation begins well before the trip. Use these ideas to streamline vacation travel planning and preparation:

~Whether it's a new divider in a household notebook or family planner, a dedicated section in a paper planner, or a vacation category in your handheld organizer, keep all travel information in a single location. Include contact information for airlines, car rental agencies and travel agents, passport and frequent flyer numbers, and itineraries.

~The three most important factors for vacation planning? Lists, lists and more lists! Vacation lists can include personal packing lists for each family member, a "before we leave" checklist, instructions for house-sitters, packing checklist, picnic planner checklist or camping checklist.

~Enter the packing zone. As you plan and prepare, set aside an area to gather travel essentials. In addition to tickets, passports, and travel documents, add travel-sized toiletries, tissues, travel appliances and personal care items. Moving from "list" to "packed" is easier if all your gear can be viewed in one place.


Pack It Light, Pack It Right

Packing prowess separates veteran travelers from the armchair variety. Keep these ideas in mind as you pack for vacation travel:

~Lighten the load. When traveling, less is more. For each family member, lay out all clothing and personal care items needed for the trip. Remove half before you pack the rest. Really.

~Investigate packing organizers. Pack clothing, socks, underwear and personal items in zipper food storage bags to cut wrinkles, protect clothing, and organize suitcases. Commercial organizers can be worth the cost for frequent travelers. Check them out!

~Pack for children day-by-day. For easiest travel with kids, use large zipper food storage bags to pack a complete outfit for a single day. Tuck dirty clothing into the same bag at day's end. Forget what your mother told you, and pack your oldest underthings! When travelling, wear and toss. You'll lighten the load and make room for souvenirs as you go.

~Plan for t-shirts. Vacations mean t-shirts, t-shirts, t-shirts! Deliberately under-pack, knowing you'll add these garments along the way.

~Take care of yourself! Put together personal care kits for each family member in a zipper bag or cosmetics organizer. Include sample-sized bottles of shampoo, shower gel, lotion and sunblock. Use motel supplies along the way to replenish care kits. At vacations's end, restock care kits and store inside suitcases for the next trip.


On the Road

Getting organizing for family travel doesn't end when you walk out the front door. Try these strategies to keep the time on the road rolling....smoothly.

~ Pack the snacks! Airlines have cut back on meal and snack service, while roadside 'treats' can be expensive and nutritionally void. Carry a small collapsible insulated bag and include a selection of healthy snacks.

~Keep the customers satisfied! A visit to the Dollar Store can go a long way to amuse children while travelling. For maximum impact, package small toys, books, and games separately and dole them out one at a time.

~ Curb the 'can we buy something' clamor in every store. Create a 'souvenir budget'; using an envelope for each child, deposit a pre-determined a amount of cash earmarked for souvenirs at the beginning of the trip. Your child can spend the money anyway he or she chooses. When they control the cash, children will become savvy souvenir shoppers!


Have your vacation 'memories' crossed the line from being treasures to being trash? This vacation, decide to decide to keep any new memorabilia from sneaking into your home by:

  • Not purchasing souvenirs that gather dust. Buy a t-shirt or something that you can use instead.
  • Buying a consumable product unique to that country.
  • Buying a Christmas ornament, and each year when you trim your tree you'll remember your visit.
  • Repeating the above for family members and friends ~ don't add to their 'collections'.
  • Only printing photos that you will put into an album or scrapbook ~ no more loose photos floating around the house!
  • Displaying your vacation photos in a digital frame that scrolls to a different picture every few seconds.
  • Saving your photos in a folder labelled by the date or event on your computer, or save them on a disc

If an object isn't taking up valuable space and gathering dust, if it lights you up and is organized, then it really can enrich your home and bring back great memories! Enjoy your vacation!


Kim & Sandra, Organizing Lives


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