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How To Organize Your Vacation

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“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

Ah, the joys of traveling! The actual traveling is fun; it’s the preparation for traveling that keeps many people at home. Getting everyone ready, packed, and out the door doesn’t need to be hectic, painful, or stressful. With just a few pointers and a little organization, you can have a great vacation.

So, you’ve already picked your vacation site and you’ve decided the time of year you’ll be going, so you know what you need in the way of clothes, shoes, etc. But where do you start to make sure the whole family is organized and ready to go?

When it comes to your luggage, buy the sturdiest, best made pieces that you can afford. You’ll be glad you did. Traveling is hard on luggage; you don’t want pieces falling apart in the middle of your trip that have to be replaced mid vacation. There are many kinds of luggage; what you buy will depend on where you’re going, how long you’re staying, etc. If you’ve decided to go camping, get the sturdiest, waterproof type of backpacks you can find. They need to stand up to the elements and rough going.

As you’re picking out the luggage for your vacation, look for sturdy locks and catches that don’t give easily and hinges that can take the strain without breaking. Make sure you keep those suitcase keys in a safe place, preferably in your carry-on luggage, purse, or pocket. Whether you need soft side luggage or the harder shell type will depend on what you plan to carry inside. Soft side luggage is great for clothing and shoes, but if you are planning to pack breakable pieces, like bottles and other toiletries, the harder shell type luggage is what you need.

For your carry-on pieces, keep in mind that the bag will have to go through security devices and must be a certain size. Check with the airports you’ll be traveling through for their size requirements and also for any restrictions. Be prepared for all contingencies. This lessens the stress at the airport, especially if you’re responsible for getting small children on board safely.

While large bags seem perfect for all your clothing, shoes, and other paraphernalia, they are sometimes difficult to get into taxis or rental car trunks, not to mention some doorways. If you’re doing any extensive traveling, that huge bag will get very heavy and hard to shift from place to place.

The kind of luggage with wheels and pullout handles are the handiest ever invented, even if the wheels break off one day and the handle snaps off. Once again, buy the very best you can afford, if you want it to last for many, many vacation trips. If you’re traveling with your kids, this type of luggage is ideal. Kids are able to pull a suitcase they might not be able to carry. Besides the top handle, these pieces also have a side handle, making it easier to maneuver it through any doorway or up a flight of stairs.

Your first instinct is probably to pack a suitcase for each person. Sounds sensible, until you consider the possibility that one of those suitcases could go missing and one person in your family will be without any extra clothes. Pull out a suitcase for each person, but divide the clothes so that there’s a change for each person in each case. Losing a suitcase is not a happy event, but it doesn’t need to be a disaster for anybody in your family.

Getting where you’re going and discovering you’ve forgotten something vital is frustrating and irritating, so learn to be prepared, from beginning to end. Decide ahead of time what you’ll need for each person. Make a checklist, one for each member of your family who’s traveling.

As you pack each suitcase, keep the list handy and check off each item as you pack it. Double-check that list before you close up the suitcase and lock it. Make sure those luggage keys immediately go into the bag or tote you’re taking on the plane with you. You don’t want to get to your destination and suddenly remember those keys are sitting on the dresser back at home.

When it comes to packing the clothing everyone will need for the trip, try this little hint. Instead of folding shirts, pants, etc, try rolling them up. This avoids the wrinkle line in your clothes, and you’ll discover you can get more into your suitcase this way. Rolling up socks and placing them inside your packed shoes is also a space saver.

When it comes to your toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, cologne, hairspray, soap and body wash, pop them into Zip Loc bags first before you pack them in your suitcase. Even if the worse happens and the bottles break or leak, you won’t find your clothes floating in the mess. Avoid taking aerosol cans in your luggage as too much heat can cause them to explode.

Organizing your clothes in the suitcase is a snap nowadays thanks to Zip Loc who also makes very large bags. You can use these to store your clothes in for the trip out and then use them for wet clothes or dirty laundry for the trip home.

For your favorite toiletries, you can find almost every kind in the small travel size, which is easy to pack and use. You can also buy small plastic bottles and jars, and fill them with your favorite shampoo, conditioner, etc. If you travel a lot, perhaps for business, it will save you time if you keep a special bag ready at all time, filled with your essential toiletries. Remember to keep it up to date, with all your necessities refilled.

As for what to pack in the way of clothing, that will depend on where you’re going. Even if you planned on sitting on the beach every day for two weeks, you’ll still need something to wear to a restaurant a time or two.

Always plan ahead, as well as for any contingency. You’ll never know what will happen. Organizing your clothing around a few pieces in neutral shades will make it much easier to mix and match, thereby making it possible to get the most out of a few pieces. “He who would travel happily must travel light,” said Antoine de Sainte-Exupery.

As you begin planning, preparing, and organizing for this trip of a lifetime, you will accumulate quite a bit of paperwork: airline or train tickets, confirmations, boarding passes, car and hotel reservations, and timetables. Keep everything in one place, a special folder perhaps, and don’t forget to pop it into your carry-on luggage or your purse.

Try to get your home tidied up before you leave town. This will save you time and energy when you return home. You won’t have a huge mess to face the moment you walk in the door.

With just a little preparation and a bit of organization, you can truly enjoy your vacation time, with your family.

Making plans ahead of time and getting yourself and your family organized will save you time, money, and a lot of stress.

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs to return home to find it.” - George Moore

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