0 Comments | Jul 14, 2014

20 Tips for Organized Vacation Travel

Summer in Colorado is prime vacation time–why not lower your travel stress with a little extra organization? If disorganized travel has cost you in any way: missed flights, items forgotten, poor planning, etc., here are 20 tips on ways I personally get organized and ahead of the game when I travel.


1)  Create a packing list on your computer. Include every last teeny toiletry item. If you frequently take trips that require special gear, make lists for those (scuba, ski, camping, etc.). Print the list each time you pack, and check everything off. Kids and babies– separate list.

2)      Create a “before you leave the house” list and put it at the end of your packing list. Mine says: stop mail & newspaper, adjust thermostat, turn lights on/computer off, take out trash, etc.

3)      Start packing ahead of time. Inconceivable to many, but it reduces stress. Get started 2-3 nights ahead if you can, or at least get a jump on doing laundry. My toiletry kit is always packed to go and I just add a few things, refill bottles, wrap the kit in a plastic grocery bag for leaks.

4)      Make sure you’ve purchased any special gear for your trip well ahead of time. A run to the store for toiletries should be the most you need to do the day before departure.

5)      Check the climate/forecast. With only a thin, waterproof jacket packed, I was shivering in Cuzco in April at night.

6)      Roll your clothes up and group them by category in packing pods. This is especially useful when you’re on the move; not as critical if you’re unpacking in one destination. Pods keep your suitcase organized and easy to close. Eagle Creek‘s packing accessories are the best. My budget solution is plastic sweater bags and re-purposing the plastic zippered/ snapped bags in which linens are sold (see pic). Pack formal wear, suits and such in dry cleaning bags to keep them nice and wrinkle free. Throw in a few plastic bags for dirty laundry, muddy shoes, wet stuff.

7)      Packing light? Only using a carry on? Limit yourself to 2-4 colors and select clothes that mix and match, wash and dry easily, and go from day to night.

8)      Keep the shoes to 4 pairs max. Never pack shoes that haven’t been worn/comfort tested. My new Walmart flip flops ripped the skin between my toes in Hawaii. Lesson learned. Pack them on the bottom, in bags to keep your clothes clean.

9)      Check your airline’s baggage fees/guidelines so there are no surprises. Get a luggage scale. They’re handheld, cheap and easy to find; even Marshall’s & TJ Maxx sell them.

10)   Bring an essential medication kit if you’re going out of country or into the wild. Bring extra prescription meds.

11)   Make sure your passport is current and kept in a place you can always find it. Mine is in my “vital docs: birth certificate/ passport” file.

12)   Check your hotel room thoroughly before leaving. Twice. Then check it again. My boyfriend forgot his iPad at a hotel, it was hidden under bedding, and the housekeeper stole it–not knowing it had GPS tracking! He got it back. (Confession: I’ve still left stuff behind!)

13)   Send your itinerary and contact information to a close friend or family member.

14)   Going to a sketchy country? Go to the U.S. state department website and read any traveler warnings, suggested vaccines, etc.

15)   Buy travel insurance if you’re prone to illness or cancellation, particularly for expensive fares, cruises and such.

16)   Make copies of your passport/drivers license/credit cards/traveler’s checks. Keep one copy at home, and one in your suitcase. A friend of mine got mugged in Savannah. My mom had her purse snatched through a taxi window by a motorcycle duo in Italy. Another friend got swarmed by “friendly” kids in Milan and they took her wallet. Better to be prepared.

17)   File reservations for your flights/car/hotel/event tickets in an action file titled “pending”. (You can keep an electronic “pending” file too.) If I’ve helped you with paper, you know about this file. If you travel a lot, try a sub-file called “pending: travel”.

18)   Bring all your travel info in your carry-on in a clear plastic folder or envelope, in an easily accessed pocket.

19)   Pack  meds, valuables, and a change of clothes (or at least underwear!) in your carry-on. I’m going to Puerto Vallarta; I will carry on a bikini since we change planes. See if your credit card or travel service provides baggage insurance. Don’t bring jewelry you’d hate to lose, ever. Use the hotel safe.

20)   You know this: attach colorful luggage tags or ribbon to your suitcase. Or, use colored suitcases, as I do. Baby butt wipes are ideal for cleaning dirt smudges off of luggage.

Now, get out there and have a fantastic trip!

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