I am pretty everyone knows the infamous movie Home Alone, the holidays are chaotic, add an adventure and/or adventures to the pot, and all chaos can ensue, as well all know.
While I have never personally forgotten a person on a trip, I have, in the past forgotten to pack something or gotten stuck because of ill-planning or lack of thinking ahead. Yes, I learned the hard way and I hope to help prevent you from making the same mistakes I have made.
A notebook and a pen/pencil are all that is needed, likely to found easily in your home or easily purchased at the local dollar store. Either sitting down and creating a prep To-Do list or adding to it on your lunch break at work or while waiting inline for your coffee order, a few minutes of note taking will save you time and stress and worry down the way.
I suggest a notebook as it keeps everything in one place and easily accessible. Plus, you can check items off as you go along and get it accomplished and leave more notes, which tips are added in the list below.
- Luggage/Suitcase Packing list, for each member of your family. What will you need to put in your suitcase (number of outfits, accessories, shoes, etc.)? Don’t forget to add undergarments and pajamas. Yes, I have to sleep in my birthday suit because I forgot pajamas.
- Medications and toiletries -usually the last minute items added to a suitcase. List exactly what you will need, shampoo, toothpaste/brush, pain medication (such as aspirin or others), anything prescribed (in the correct amounts and quantities.) If you will run out of medication while on vacation, get refills before you leave or contact your physician /pharmacy to have them filled and able to be retrieved from a local pharmacy where you are traveling too if a pre-refill isn’t possible. A little first aid kit is always handy too or a box of Band-Aids, because who hasn’t gotten a blister on their heal? ouch!
- If travelling by vehicle, a check list of what will go in the car, any car maintenance that will be needed (i.e. an oil change, tune up, spare tire fixed, jumper cables.) Scheduled dates for this can also be added to your notebook and calendar.
- If traveling by airfare, train or bus, make sure you right now departure times and arrivals and means of transportation or shuttle from A to B. It’s not any fun arriving jet lagged, tired and hungry only to realize the last shuttle has run, taxi’s services don’t run 24/7 and it’s pouring rain and your are 15 miles from your hotel (yep, been there too). Winging it can be fun but there is a time and place for that as well. Also, will you leave your vehicle at the airport or station? If yes, your notebook will be a great place to mark down where you parked. If you have someone you off and/or picking you up, the Uber service number or having best friend Betty’s phone number and scheduled services will be beneficial to write down as well. Nothing like a dead cell phone to make you wish you had memorized someone’s phone number.
- A list of any reservations, appointments and venue locations, including check in and check out times or any other special instructions, Include reservation numbers and so forth. Paper clipping confirmation pages into your notebook will be beneficial. It’s embarrsing to show up at St. Mary’s hotel B Ave when you are reserved at St. Merry’s hotel on Bee Ave 7 miles away in a different town. Also noting in your book any important phone numbers or contacts in case of emergency.
- Business as usual: What regular things will be need to be taken care of while you are away? Will you need to set up auto pay for bills? Who will take care of your pet if you can’t take them with you? Water your plants? Do you need to put a hold on your mail or can your sister pick it up for you? Do you need to transfer your money from your adventure savings into your checking account?
- Gifts and Souvenirs-who will you need to brings treats home to? Do you have a neighbor to thank for checking your houseplants? A favorite Aunt whom loves magnets? Do you have your grandparents address so you can send them a postcard?
- Leaving the house Prep: Nobody wants to come home to a mystery science experiment growing in the fridge or having their wash machine smell like an old gym bag full of sweaty sports clothes because you forgot to run the last load and everything molded and soured. Mark down whatever last chores needed to be finished up or done before leaving so you come home to a clean and comfortable home.
- Coming home prep: This one is a bit of an extension of leaving the house prep. If you are going to be gone for more than a few days, groceries will likely be used up before you leave, especially fresh produce and the like. You can schedule a grocery trip on the way home or have a prepped in advance and therefore save some money in the process. A few frozen meals will be easy to pop in the oven, like casseroles and such or even one of those home-bake frozen pizzas could bake and would be useful time as you unload your luggage and start getting back to normal.
- Check things off as you get them done. By putting your notebook in your purse/backpack/carryon/travel tote, you will have it handy. It will also provide a way of making sure you got everything you need to take home with you. I failed to check my list once going from Inverness, Scotland and upon arriving and showering in London, after a long bus ride, I didn’t have any panties. Why? I accidently donated them with a couple of articles of clothing that I had chosen to be rid of but without my packing list, I didn’t notice!