Organized Summer Travel
Summer is right around the corner. It is a common season to travel, given school vacations, good weather and for many, a more relaxed personal and professional schedule. Vacation should be relaxing and rejuvenating, but combined with hectic, disorganized travel, all of the benefit of the vacation can be overshadowed by the stress of getting to your destination or the shock of re-entry into the “real world”. Here are a few tips for organized travel that will leave you basking in your vacation glow just a little longer.
Before You Go
Plan your trip. Where will you go? How will you get there? Where will you stay? What will you do while you’re there? Make any necessary arrangements and reservations as early as you can. Though there can be occasional “last minute” bargains based on space availability, most often, around heavily traveled times, the best deals are offered to those who book in advance.
Pack thoughtfully. Make a list. It can be tempting to just open up your suitcase the night before you leave and toss some stuff in, but don’t skip the list step for stress-free travel. Brainstorm a list a week before you go. Do all of your laundry a couple of days before you need to pack so that everything you want to take is clean and ready. Check the long-range weather forecast (www.weather.com) for your destination so you’ll know what the typical temperatures and conditions will be like. Think through what you’ll be doing while on your trip. Will you attend a party, engage in an activity that requires special clothing or equipment? Include appropriate items on your list so that you’ll be prepared. Don’t forget items such as your chargers, swim suit, toiletries, medications, “every day” clothes, special occasion clothes, accessories, pajamas, shoes, and anything else you plan on wearing or using. If you’ll fly, visit your airline’s website and www.tsa.com to become familiar with current regulations, restrictions and charges associated with checked and carry-on baggage. Making a thorough list and then checking or crossing things off as you pack them will ease your mind that you’re remembering everything you wanted to take.
Prepare things at home or work for your absence. Have your mail held at the post office and your newspaper delivery suspended while you will be gone, or have a neighbor come by and pick up daily. Leave some interior lights on or set specific lamps on timers so it appears as if someone is home. Make arrangements for your pets’ care or plant watering while you’re away. Alert a trusted neighbor (and your alarm company, if you use one) of your travel plans and contact information so that they can reach you in case of an emergency. Leave a few minutes after you pack to put away things you decided not to take and tidy up a bit. Clear your desk at work before you leave, putting things away and delegating any last minute tasks that cannot wait for your return. It’s always nice to return to a clean home and office. Turn on your out of office notifications for your work email and voicemail so those who try to reach you while you’re away know when you’ll return and who they can talk to in the meantime if they need help.
Know what to expect. Map out your travel route. If you’re traveling by car make sure you have directions to your destination (www.mapquest.com) and if you’re traveling by plane, understand your options for ground transportation to and from the airport, both at home and at your destination.
Leave a cushion and plan for the unexpected. Most of travel stress comes from time crunches and delays. Leave plenty of extra time to allow for traffic, long lines and anything else that may come up. Even if this means you’ll have time to wait at your gate at the airport, or arrive early to your destination, you’ll have time to relax with a cup of coffee, a good book, or just people watch – all better than the alternative.
Be prepared. Bring healthy snacks, reading material and anything else you may need to make your travels, or your waiting time, more comfortable and enjoyable. If you’re traveling with children, help them pack their own activity bag, perhaps including one or two new small items, books or activities, to hold their attention.
Home, Sweet Home – Upon your return
If possible, block off a full day at the end of your travels before returning to school or work. Use this time to unpack, wash clothes, catch up on mail, email and phone calls received while you were away, restock the refrigerator, and ease back into “real life”. You’ll be so glad you did.
Debbie Rosemont, Certified Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant, started Simply Placed, in 2003 to help clients increase productivity, maximize efficiency and bring balance and control into their work, homes and lives. Simply Placed associates work with individuals and businesses to create effective organizational systems, clear clutter, successfully manage time, focus on priorities and achieve goals. They help people work smarter, not harder, to increase their bottom line and peace of mind through consulting, hands-on organizing, and group training. They can be contacted at 206-579-5743 or email@example.com.