Summertime has me thinking about weekends away. But before you get to your destination of choice, it’s easy to stress about the getting there. It’s not just the packing, it’s the feeling that you’ve forgotten to take care of something around the house. Let’s put your mind at ease:
Countdown to Vacation
At any point leading up to your trip
: Keep a running list of things you want to bring or take care of as you think of them. It’s harder to forget if it’s down on paper.
The week before you leave
The day before you leave
- Call to suspend delivery of your newspapers (or anything you get delivered daily).
- Shop for any items you need (see your running list for details…). Don’t forget a hostess gift if you’ll be staying in someone’s home.
- Set up your online bill pay for any bills that are due while you’re away.
- Traveling internationally? Make copies of your passport – leave one at home, and travel with one.
- Do the laundry – you’ll want all your favorite clothes to pack, including things you’ve worn over the past week.
The minute before you leave
- Pack. This may seem last minute but I like to pack the day before so I can have access to all the things I need until I go away.
- Check in to your flight online and print your boarding passes.
- Clean out your fridge of any foods that will spoil while you’re gone.
- Double check that your TiVo is set for all your favorite shows.
- Arrange for airport transportation.
- Straighten up around the house – coming home to a clean space helps to prolong the effects of vacation.
Nine Steps to the Perfect Weekend Pack
- Check to see that all the lights (and air conditioning) are turned off.
- Lock up and head out!
1. Gather key-items in one location as you think of them
. I’m not talking about clothes here – I’m talking about the ‘stuff’ you’d like to have with you but you know you might forget. For me it’s my phone charger, my glasses, a hostess gift, magazines I’ve been meaning to read….
2. Check the weather where you’re going
. You’ve probably been checking your weekend forecast since Wednesday.
3. Choose a clear surface to pack on
4. Mentally walk through your weekend and plan your outfit for each activity
. This is how this goes for me: Ok, we’ll get there and I’m going to stay in whatever I’m wearing…but it might be colder then. [Put hooded sweatshirt on the bed] We’ll hang out for a while and then go to bed. [Put set of pajamas on the bed] Wake up and exercise. [Shorts, tee, sports-bra and socks on the bed. Sneakers on the floor nearby] Shower up and head to the beach. [Bathing suit and cover-up on the bed. Sunglasses and sunscreen too. Flip-flops on floor] Post-beach shower before dinner. [Outfit appropriate for dinner plans on the bed. And accessories. Don't forget the accessories!] After dinner, come home to hang until bed. [The pajamas I wore last night will work again tonight...] And so on and so forth until I’ve made it through all the days of the trip. Because I prefer to travel light, I try to pack things that I could wear more than once — so maybe two outfits use the same pair of jeans.
5. Think about the ‘maybes.’
Maybe it will be cooler in the evening and you’ll need an extra layer. Maybe you won’t go out for dinner but would rather have an extra set of comfy clothes.
6. Group like with like
. When every outfit is accounted for, pile the tee shirts on top of the tee shirts, the pants with the pants – you get the idea. Why? Because then piles are uniform in size, fit into a bag neatly, and are less likely to wrinkle!
7. Pack your clothes in the bag
. Stick your shoes at the bottom of the bag, stuffing your socks inside to help them keep their shape. Then, your piles are already done – so just place them on top of the shoes, filling in any spaces with the little stuff: underwear, sunglasses, camisoles. There should be a few inches left at the top of the bag for….
. My makeup lives in a relatively small makeup case – so that’s an easy one – directly into the bag. Because I travel pretty frequently, I also keep my toiletry case packed with the essentials: toothbrush, toothpaste, body lotion, face wash, face lotion, extra contact lenses, vitamins, Excedrin and hair product. I came to these essentials by…you guessed it…mentally walking through my daily routines. This serves as a great base to start from. Then I think, “Does this trip require anything special?” Well, I’ll be wearing a bathing suit, so a razor would probably be good. So would sunscreen (nice…remembered that one earlier too!). Add the extras and you’re set.
9. Zip up and head out
. One bag and you’re covered. Grab it, get where you’re going and enjoy!
I know it’s tempting to get home after an exhausting day of travel, wheel that suitcase in behind you and say to yourself “I’ll just handle it tomorrow…” But tonight you’ll probably need something at of that bag anyway. And tomorrow will come and you’re not going to want to unpack that suitcase any more than you want to right now.
So I thought I’d share my #1 tip for getting organized after you travel — UNPACK THE MINUTE YOU GET HOME
- Put away the clean clothes – throw the laundry into your hamper.
- Put your toiletries away so they’ll be there when you need them to wash up before bed tonight.
- Bring the empty luggage to its permanent home.
In just 15 minutes, you’ll have permanently crossed that suitcase off your list – it won’t be staring you in the face when you come in from work tomorrow – reminding you of a task you have yet to do. Just think of it as 15 more minutes of travel time before you arrive on your couch. Because emptying the DVR is a much more pleasurable task, I’m sure.
Dayna Brandoff is the founder of Chaos Theory Inc., a professional organizing company located in New York City. For further organizing tips or hands-on help, visit www.ChaosTheoryNYC.com
or call (917) 576-1267.