Saturday, January 25, 2014

Trip Preparation and Packing Lists

Whew. I finally feel like I'm starting to make ground on my "to-do" list. But just barely.

I promised I'd share these lists that help me get ready for my trips.

When we were preparing for our Panama Canal Trip, I got my "trip lists" out, like I always do, and started packing and getting my ducks in a row. I thought I'd share these lists on the blog... not because they will be perfect for you to use as you get ready for your trips, but the because the concept itself works really seamlessly for packing. These are lists that I've used through the years, and I know that as long as I check everything off, there won't be anything that I forget. And it has worked trip after trip after trip. Once in a while a random thing comes up that I've never thought of before, and it gets added to the list. But they are pretty comprehensive. And since I have them on my computer, I just print them off before the trip, and they're ready. No need to try to come up with a brand new list every time and cross my fingers that I've remembered everything. These lists take the guess work out of packing.

So, first of all I have a list of things I need to do to prepare for the trip.

As you can see, the list is pretty tailor-made for my home and family, but the point is to have a list, and then add to it and tweak it as you go along. As this list goes, I don't have to try to wrack my brain to try to remember all that I need to do before we leave. It's all on the list, ready to be checked off. Sometimes I don't need to do each and every item on the list, and then I just cross it off the list, or put an "n/a" next to it.

The next list is a general packing list for each of the family members who are going on the trip. This was SO very handy when I had a full house of kids. I would just print them each off a list, and they would go to town packing for themselves. I generally put how many of each of some of the items, just to help when we're trying to figure out outfits and such. Even when just Bob and I are going on a trip, I print one off for him and one off for me. Again, takes all of the guess work out of the packing.

The next list is a more comprehensive packing list for just me. It includes many more items than just the packing list that each of the kids get. Some of the items are repeats from the above family list, but it has quite a few other things that I need to remember to bring.

And the last of the four lists is one that I give to our house-sitter. When my whole family is gone on a trip, we hire one of the neighbor kids to take care of things. When it's just Bob and I, we'll have one or two of our kids checking in and watering and such. Either way, it's helpful for them to have a list of what you are wanting them to do each day.

I block out the days when they don't need to worry about doing some of the things, so they can look at the day at the top of the list, and then see the few things that they need to check on or do for that day.

As you can see, the lists aren't fancy at all, but they serve a great purpose, and that is to free my ever-buzzing head from the worries of preparing and packing for a trip. I don't have to re-think any of it. I just automatically pull up my four lists, adjust them a bit for that specific trip, and print them off. Done. I've been using these lists for at least 15 years now, and they are tweaked a bit through the years to fit our needs, but other than that, they're the same lists, and I wouldn't even think of going on a trip without using them!

So, start putting together your lists. You can use mine as a reference, and to jog your memory as to what you need to do before you leave for your trip, and also what you need to remember to pack. Do a simple list on your computer. In fact, you don't even need to print the lists off. Just make the list on your IPad or phone, or whatever, and refer to that as you pack. (Unless you're like me, and need to have the satisfaction of crossing things off the list.)

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