I recently went on vacation (yeah!!!) and was reminded of the tremendous amount of prep work involved in taking a break. I did two relatively easy, but back to back, vacations – camping for a weekend followed by a 9 hour trip to stay with family.
I'm not talking about all the planning work. That was actually done rather easily and some of it for me! The camping trip was almost completely planned by The Coach's aunt. The trip to visit my family was another relatively easy planning process. We were staying with my aunt so no hotel booking was required and she knew the activities in the area.
The prep work I am talking about is what happens in that day or so before you leave. Plans are made and now you have to go from living your normal life to being on vacation. That is what can be overwhelming! So here are my four steps to prepping for a vacation.
- Clean the house. I know – you never have time to do this when you don't have packing looming in front of you. But this is a good idea for a couple reasons. The first is simply that it feels so nice to come back to a clean house. The next is that if you have clutter laying around and things are not where they belong, it takes 10 times longer to find what you need to pack. Or the clutter laying around by your items to pack will inadvertently make it into your bags. Or worse, the items meant to go in your bags will be mistaken for the clutter next to it. You get the point.
- Make a list of every item you need to pack and check items off as you gather them. This provides you with a "thinking twice" approach. You go through everything in your head once, then again as you go through the list and mark items off as you get them out. You're less likely to forget essentials when you think through what you need twice.
- Have a "staging area." When I gather all the items on my list, I put them all in one place. Depending how much and what I am packing, I might use my bed, or the dining room. Everything that will need to be packed goes to the staging area. This will first allow you to see at a glance what you have out and what is missing. But even more helpful, you can group items together and get a feel for what size and how many bags you need. I know I like to pack the fewest number of bags possible so there is less to carry in and out. Once everything in your staging area is packed, you can look at how it is going to fit into the car.
- Load the car smartly. As you look at everything in your staging area, think about if there is anything you will need on the way, such as diapers, or jammies to change kids into before they fall asleep in their car seats. Put those items in an easy to reach spot. Next, think about what you will need first and what you will need last. This gives you an approach for loading things into the car. You don't want the bag you will need right away packed behind or under everything else. Think about hidden spaces as well when packing the car. We have a minivan with stow-and-go seats, so since the middle seats are up, we use the compartments meant for the seats to fold into for storage of items like pillows and life jackets.
And now you are ready to roll! What are your vacation prep tips?