Your Vacation Packing Past
If you are like most people you would like packing for your vacation to be very easy, but the reality of the situation is that you find it to be less than easy every year. Trying to remember what to bring, how to pack the car, how far in advance to pack certain things, and what to do around the house to prepare always seems like a chaotic ordeal.
Make your next family vacation the one that ends this cycle. By following a simple plan to get your packing list organized you can save yourself a big headache for years to come. Follow this plan to document what you do this year before your vacation and next year will be the easiest family vacation you have ever packed for.
How to Make This Vacation Count
Here is what you can do to make this year's vacation experience count so that next year's packing will be a non-event.
Make A List
You need to write down everything you bring. Yes, I mean everything, from the clothes to your sunglasses. Don't worry, this is a one year task and it will be well worth it. The best way to do this is to crack open a Word or Excel doc and make your list there, or if you have a smart phone, using an online document is even better so you can check it and make notes from the road (more on that later).
Organize your list into categories that are meaningful to you on your trip. For example, if you are going on a beach vacation you might have categories such as the beach, the cabin, the boat, clothes, kitchen, etc. You would list things like a life jacket, swimming suit, and float under the beach. You would like your fishing pole and tackle box under the boat. You get the idea. If you have 4 people you might organize by suitcase to make packing each bag easy. Do what works for you. If you don't know what is best don't worry. After this year you will.
Also add to your list the things you do around the house. This will be there for you next year when you get set to leave. This would be things like stopping the mail, holding the paper, and lining up someone to water the potted plants and mow the yard. It may even include changing your car's oil and checking the tire pressure.
Make your list so that you have room to write notes next to each item. Print out a copy (unless it's on your phone) and bring it along on your vacation. You're going to need it as you enjoy your vacation.
Check Your List
While you are on your trip, refer to your list once a day or so, or keep it in a place that is handy like the top of your dresser. Did you realize that you forget your sunglasses? Add them to your list. Did you pack something you now know was a waste of space? Put a line through it on your list so you won't make that mistake next year. Do you wish you had categorized things differently? Make a note so you can fix that when you get home.
You see, what is happening here is that you are perfecting your list. With each missed item you add and each unnecessary item you strike, your list for next year will be that much better. By the end of your trip you should have your list with various notes written on it and items added and crossed off.
Update Your List
As soon as you can when you return home, take out your list, crack open the file on your computer, and update the list for next year. Delete the things you now know you didn't need. Add the things you realize you did need. Change the quantity of things that were wrong. For example, if you ended up with 4 pairs of clean socks, deduct a few from the count for next year.
When you are done you will have a list that is better than the one you started with. Save it online or on your computer and remember where it is.
Take the time now to better categorize things if the way you did it originally doesn't make sense. If you ended up with a section that had only one item perhaps it should be combined with another. If you ended up with a huge section perhaps you can split it up. Make it as easy to think about next year as you can.
You may even with to note where in the car you put the bags to make that part of your packing easier next year too. If you realized that the camp chairs work well in the topper but you need access to the kids clothes bag in the trunk, jot it down so you do that without thinking next year.
Now For The Easy Part
Now let's fast forward a year. Hey, I didn't say you would get instant gratification from this. The reward takes time, unless you spend weekends at the cabin and you will use this list every week.
When you pack for your next family vacation start by opening your list. Here's the fun part. Turn off your brain. Seriously, don't think about it. You already proved that this list will work. Just fill the order and start packing your suitcases.
Work systematically through the list and pack away. If you follow this advice you stand to save 50% of your time this year with your new list. You can trust that it works. I have personally turned my annual family vacation packing from a 3 day event in my free time to a 1 hour packing for the entire family. It works and I now bring the list every year and find that there are only a few adjustments each year.
Sure, a change of venue or addition to the family will alter your list but just treat those as new sections in your list. Do you have a baby to pack for this year. Add a baby category and put the playpen, diapers, and bouncy seat in that section. It will grow with your baby and eventually go away.
Follow this advice and you will find that you have made packing for vacation very easy.