This is the first blog in a series on Travel Tips & Tricks. Today’s topic is on PREPARATION.  Before you even think about heading out the door on vacation this summer, plan, plan and plan. You will be very thankful you did. A huge key to organization is in the planning stage. Here are 10 bullet points to think about as you plan:

  1. Ask yourself and your family, “What would we really like to do this summer?” Then write it on your calendar and make it happen. My son recently asked me if we could visit the Statue of Liberty. He’s 10 and has never seen it although we live 50 minutes away. I will ask my husband to pick a date in July to take off from work and then it will go on my planner. That’s how things get done.
  2. Plan as much as you can from the comfort and convenience of your own house using your phone and computer. This includes: Internet searches, directions, restaurant/hotel reservations, tickets of any kind such as park passes, airline, train, bus etc. You will save time, money and energy this way.
  3. Have one “home” for all your travel information. As you’re researching all you want to do on vacation, take that information and create a hanging file folder, a three-ring binder or an accordion folder. It doesn’t matter what you use as the “organizing office product” for your paper plans, just stick to one place. If you’re an electronic person, make yourself a digital “vacation” folder.
  4. Call ahead to your final destination to see what amenities they offer so you know exactly what to pack, what’s free and other pertinent information you may want to bring or schedule into your trip.
  5. Have a flexible, tentative schedule (written down on paper and bring it) of what you would like to do on which days of your vacation. Otherwise, you may waste time in trying to decide what to do.
  6. Be sure you have a “House List” for the person taking care of your home while you’re gone. Write down all your To Do’s for that person such as exactly what you want done with the mail, plants, pets etc. Additionally, have labels on all the shut-off values in your home in case there is an emergency.
  7. Copy your itinerary for a responsible person back home and also leave him/her your house key. Also, make sure someone you trust has and knows where all your vital documents are God forbid you don’t make it home.
  8. Leave the house clean, beds made and laundry done so that your only chore returning home is unpacking. Schedule a grocery store order to be delivered on the day you return home to an empty refrigerator. (Don’t forget to purge the refrigerator and take out the garbage before you leave!) Another clever idea before you take your trip is to make a couple of meals and freeze them. Ask the person taking care of your house to defrost one meal the day before you return.
  9. If you are driving, preset your GPS and have a paper back-up plan such as Mapquest or AAA map.
  10. If you are flying, consider shipping your items to your destination rather than paying per suitcase especially if you’re staying with family. By borrowing their washing machine and toiletries is also a great way to save on packing.