Organize for Memorable Summer Vacations

Published Friday, June 01, 2012 11:30 PM

Summer's here and school's almost out: time to make summer vacation memories! Before you hit the open road, or pack for a flight, or even decamp to the local pool for a staycation, get organized for maximum fun. There's nothing like a missing bathing suit or a mislaid passport to turn fun into frustration.

Travel Central

A smooth, stress-free vacation begins before you even step foot out of your home. Streamline traveling planning and prep with a travel central. Use a notebook with file pockets to capture travel documents, plane tickets, itineraries and the like. Not a paper person? Digital devotees will love productivity app Evernote, which can corral all the digital data related to travels such as PDF images of boarding passes, airport shuttle tickets, maps, as well as trip notes. Evernote can also be easily shared by families or couples, allowing everyone to be up to speed on plans.

Pack Right, Pack Light

Effective packing requires far more than the ability to fold neatly. First-class packers know the secret to arriving at your destination with everything you need, and nothing more, is to think lists and think light. First, create lists for all family members and use them to tick off items as you pack and then repack when it's time to head home. Next, take a less is more approach and commit to packing light. Literally, take half of what you think you need; you can always make outfits do double-duty and children are often content to wear items again and again. After all, you're off for rest and relaxation, not to tote luggage.

Consider packing items "day-by-day" and include complete outfits in an oversize ziplock bag. The bags can then store dirty or wet items for travel home. Leave room in the bag for vacation's inevitable souvenirs. You can always create room by packing worn items that you're happy to discard when it's time to head home.

Creature Comforts

Nothing derails your vacation mojo like a hungry toddler or an out-of-sorts teen. Be sure to stock up on inexpensive items to divert attention and to travel with plenty of snacks and water. Ditto books and travels games.

Check the weather before you depart so you are Boy Scout-prepared for inclement weather, cool nights or blazingly sunny days. 

Be sure to bring a small emergency kit with basic medicines and toiletries so that you don't need to scramble for missing items.

Be Budget Savvy

Plan out your vacation budget in advance to set expectations. If all family members understand the daily budget, you can help avoid vacation whining for snacks and souvenirs. Enlist your children in the budgeting, providing each child with souvenir money and a snack budget for the day. Empowering children to make their own buying decisions not only heads off conflict and tantrums, it teaches good money sense.

Above all, take time to enjoy the ride and take in the view. Remember, family vacations are not just about the destination; it's about the journey. Happy travels!


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