Next month I’m heading over to the UK for a two-week tour of England where I’ll be staying in a different accommodation almost every night. While super exciting, packing for such a trip can be a nightmare. I don’t need to lug my large suitcase containing everything for my 10 day trip into a hotel where I’m only staying one night. So what to do? Read on to learn how I’ve mastered the art of packing and the dreaded road trip packing!
Okay, so that deals with your regular packing needs. For a road trip where you’ll be staying in multiple hotels you’ll need one large suitcase and one overnight duffle or carry on size case.
However, with gas prices and flight costs rising, taking a simple summer vacation has gotten to be a lot more expensive. Add in paying for meals and entertainment and say goodbye to even more of your hard earned money.
Oy vey…what a headache! Why not forgo all that stress, save some money, and instead have a Staycation in your very own home!
Merriam – Webster defines a Staycation as “a vacation spent at home or nearby”. Turn your home and backyard into an outdoor oasis that everyone in the family will enjoy. Think about how a hotel is set up and organize your home as such, for the whole summer or even for just a week!
Start in the kitchen:
Set up an island or part of a countertop for a breakfast buffet/snack bar like you would find in a hotel chain. Set out those single serve cereal boxes, some fruit and granola bars; maybe even whip up a large amount of pancake batter. Buy an inexpensive waffle maker and you can have fresh waffles every morning! Since you are saving money by staying at home, splurge a little here. Find melamine dishes and bowls and acrylic cups, and stash your everyday dishes and cups up on a higher shelf. Tie them together with a bright tablecloth and you have a fresh new look. When you decide to eat al fresco, just take those items outside!
Head into the great outdoors:
After a nice breakfast head outside for the next phase of the day. If you are in the mood to relax then set yourself up on your patio or lawn. Put on some music, bring out your favorite books and/or magazines, and even work on a hobby that you’ve been neglecting. Keep a cooler filled with your favorite beverages and you’ll be set! If you are in the mood to get out of the house, then use those at home days to figure out where to go. If you don’t have a pool at your home or community, consider a membership to a local pool. Or maybe you’d rather go shopping; an outlet center is a great way to spend a day and most offer coupons for additional savings. Another idea is to become a tourist in your own city. So often, our lives get so busy that we can’t appreciate the historical areas and landmarks that our own city has to offer.
End in the bedroom:
Use as a sanctuary to rest and recharge after a busy day outdoors. Put crisp linens and a light comforter on the bed in soothing beach colored neutrals. Try to keep it as a technology free area, which shouldn’t be too hard, because most TV shows are on reruns! Keep a book on your night table and read that instead.
However you decide to spend your Staycation, take the time to savor every minute of the day. Push aside obligations and expectations and put the focus on you. You deserve it!
When was the last time you took everything out of the trunk and off of the floor of your car and really explored what is hanging out in there? Maybe you have some store returns to make that happen to be intermixed with fallen French fries, sticky soda bottles and stinky gym shoes…ick. It sounds like a scenario for those Febreze Car Fresheners!
On the next nice day when you can dedicate a few hours, head out to your car and follow these simple steps.
1) Remove EVERYTHING – Yes, I said everything! First, take out the bigger items from the floor and then the stuff from your glove compartment, center console, door pockets and trunk. Don’t forget to look in all those other nifty hidden compartments, as well. For now, keep these items in neat (or as neat as possible) piles in your garage, on the patio or in shopping bags.
2) Clean – Clean your interior windows including the front windshield, the rear window and the gauges. Next, dust and clean your dashboard. Finally, vacuum the floors and seats. If you haven’t done this process in a while, you may just prefer to head to the car wash and let them take care of it for you. A good car wash may be something worthwhile to get rid of that pesky pollen…achoo!
3) Trash/Recycle – Get a trash bag as well as another bag for recycling. Toss any items that are trash, like those fries! Recycle any maps or papers that aren’t needed, like expired car registration or insurance documents, soda cans and water bottles.
4) Sort – Go through the rest of the items and decide where they need to go, whether it is back in the car or into your house.
5) Organize – Keep some fabric storage bins with handles in your trunk and on the backseat. They are inexpensive and can surprisingly hold a lot. Five bins should be enough; you don’t want to fill up your entire car with them.
6) Maintain – Whenever you stop for gas, pop out the trash bag and toss it. Save the recycling items to take home if you don’t see a recycling bin. Keep some additional plastic grocery bags folded flat on the bottom of each bin.
7) Rejoice! – Look inside your newly cleaned car and get ready for those road trips. Then take a whiff. If it still stinks, quickly proceed to the nearest store and buy yourself an air freshener!
Happy travels wherever you are headed, near or far!
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I love to travel, but I don’t like lugging a heavy suitcase. As a result, I’ve learned to streamline my clothing selections. Here are some tips on how to do more with less so you don’t exceed the 50-pound limit or tire yourself out unnecessarily:
Pick a color scheme
To minimize the amount of clothing, shoes and accessories, pick a color scheme of one or two colors. One of my favorites is black & tan.
Select neutral clothes and interesting accessories
Many neutral clothing items can be dressed up or down — depending on what is partnered with them. For example, a simple black sun dress can be worn with flip-flops during the day, then dressed up with a summer scarf, kitten heels and sparkly earrings for a night on the town.
Do the math
Calculate how many outfits you’ll need for the number of days of travel. How many items can you wear more than once, such as jeans or dress clothes? For extended trips, are you willing to do hand washing or utilize the hotel’s laundry service?
What about shoes? Try to limit them to three pairs.
Make a list, or better yet, a checklist
Once you’ve done the math, make a list of what you are considering. Create a checklist in Word, Excel or on paper. List the basics, then add selections for summer, winter, business or an extended trip. It will save you time and reduce angst!
Confirm the weather
What will the range of temperatures be at your destination? Closer to the date of travel, check the ten-day forecast. What if it rains unexpectedly; is cold or hot? Add raincoats, umbrellas, sweaters, shorts, etc. and remember that LAYERING is in order for chillier weather.
Limit your selection to your calculations
Many people bring a number of options for each day so they can wear what they’re in the mood for. Not! If you want to streamline your packing, don’t let your mood come into play.
Select an outfit for each day, less what you’ll repeat, plus what’s needed for unexpected weather. Add an extra set of undies, socks and top in case of an unexpected delay.
When in doubt …. leave it out!
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To roll or not to roll…that is the question. There’s a lot of debate about the best way to pack a bag for travel. We’ve used three different methods with our clients. The best method depends on the purpose of the trip, the kind of clothing you are taking, if you prefer hanging your clothes at your destination and wrinkle control.
In the layering or bundling method, layer the clothes in a crisscross fashion in the suitcase and intertwine them into a bundle. This is a great method to reduce wrinkles and we were easily able to pack as many as 25 items of medium sized women’s clothing in one 22” carry-on. The downside is that the entire bundle has to be removed and unwrapped to retrieve your clothing.
Rolling the clothing is another popular method. You can roll each item individually or group like items together and roll as a bundle. We found that grouping like items together does save some extra space and reduce some of the wrinkling that can occur with various fabrics when rolled.
And finally, the folding method. This method does take up more space than layering or rolling. However, for some fabrics, it’s a better way to reduce wrinkling. Folding the clothing with a piece of tissue paper or plastic in the middle will reduce friction and therefore the wrinkles.
In the end, we found that a combination of methods often works best. Rolling items that don’t wrinkle easily and folding others with plastic were the easiest techniques to combine. Once the larger, bulkier items were placed in the suitcase, we filled in all the gaps with smaller items like underwear, tank tops, bathing suits and belts, so that every nook and cranny was filled.
When you are at a restaurant, in the car, or headed to the beach, do your children drive you crazy by fighting or by saying that they are bored? I have found several variations of a ‘busy bag/box’ on Pinterest, and decided to create my own. My bags have changed over the years accommodating items that will satiate my 4 year old as well as my 7 year old!
Below are some of my ‘Busy Bag’ ideas:
My Restaurant Bag contains:
When my children were toddlers, I used to pack lots of board books, large Duplo blocks, finger puppets, Crayola dough, laminated play dough mats, stacking cups and Fisher Price plastic animals. For older children, add Legos, playing cards, trivia questions, the game Uno, books, Mad libs, and maze books.
My Car Bag contains everything from my restaurant bag, plus the following:
A fun idea that I started — on a 10 hour trip to Myrtle Beach — was to get baby links from the dollar store and connect them from one car hook to the one across from it in the backseat, and a super hero traveled link to link every hour that passed. Also, since each of my children had a small version of the car bag next to them, with each activity organized inside a smaller container, there were no melt downs!
Taking a family of four to the beach is like a jigsaw puzzle. Everything needs to be organized and in a certain area or else it will be covered in sand or forgotten. Thanks to many invites to Thirty One parties I am well prepared for the beach with bags!
My Beach Bag is a system of smaller bags:
Staying organized, even on vacation, helps to keep my sanity, as well as my husband’s when the ice cream man rings his bell and both children start running towards him. All he has to do is reach in the pouch for the money and not waste any time looking for it. I hope I have inspired you to create your own “Bags” for whatever situation calls for it.
Have fun and safe travels this summer!