Coming Back from Vacation
The best thing about vacation time is it slows you down, forces you to relax, and provides a welcome break from the daily grind. But what can you do to keep that zen feeling going when you return home?
If you don’t thrive on diving into cleanup as soon as you drop your bags like I do, here are some tips for a smooth re-entry to the real world.
- Purge your purse or tote bag. Remove everything extra and return just your everyday items like your wallet, keys, and smart phone. Keep a small garbage bag close by to toss gum wrappers, airline tickets, or entrance passes that you might have thrown in your bag while rushing around.
- Upload your pictures. Plug your camera/phone into the computer and start uploading pictures, saving them into a file titled, simply and descriptively — for example, “California March 2014.”
- Find a home for souvenirs you purchased. These should either be on display, or in an “outgoing” area where you’ll remember to give them to the intended recipient.
- Ask all family members to empty their own suitcases by the end of the day you come home. If everyone is responsible for their own unpacking, it’s a smaller job.
- Plan for a simple dinner the first night home — pizza, or take-out; everyone will be tired anyway.
- Review your schedule for the week — don’t forget that real life awaits…and you’re ready for action!
If you dread road trips, errands, or play date drop-offs because your car has long ago lost its new-car smell, you need to get moving and get organized. Here are some tips:
- Everything you bring into the car needs to leave with you at the end of the drive. This includes sweaters, wallets, or receipts acquired along the way. You clearly can’t return the latte you bought at Starbucks, so why save the receipt? Look around before you head into the house, and never go in empty-handed.
- Keep a supply of garbage bags in the car — for wrappers, packaging, or paper — that may appear during the daily carpool route. Always empty it when you reach your destination.
- Keep a package of wipes in the car for faces, hands, occasionally the car upholstery! There almost won’t be a day you don’t use these!
- You may need a few toys to entertain younger children on longer rides. Consider purchasing a car organizer that hangs from the back of the passenger and/or driver’s seat like the Munchkin Backseat Organizer ($11.99 at Diapers.com).
- Stock your glove compartment with the following items: car manual, registration and insurance, mobile phone charger, a small change purse with quarters for meters, hand-wipes, a travel tissue pack and a couple of health bars or another shelf-stable snack.
- Wash your car at least once every few months. And when the crumbs pile up, do a little vacuuming in between the seats.
- Spray a little scented car freshener and before long, you’ll be itching to take a road trip!
By Guest Blogger Rebecca Reich, age 12
This blog is about packing for camp. Unlike most of my friends’ moms, my mom doesn’t start a month in advance. Instead, she does everything in two days (for me and my brother). Here’s how she does it.
- Any clothes we want to take to camp are piled in our playroom. I want to take most of my wardrobe, and my mother wants me to take only what the camp says I need. I always bring more than the list says.
- Using stick on labels from LabelDaddy.com, she sticks a label on each article of clothing. She uses a Sharpie to write initials on socks.
- She types a list of every single thing I bring to camp. I’m not sure why she does this, but she does.
- She groups t-shirts, pajamas, sweatshirts, socks, and every category of clothes and puts them in plastic zip loc bags (the giant ones) or soft plastic zippered bags. That way they won’t be scattered all over the trunk, which is enormous. Of course, she folds everything perfectly. This lasts for about 3 days after the clothes get to camp.
- All non-clothing camp supplies are kept in a separate closet in our playroom. She takes this stuff out, labels it, and puts it in a second trunk. And that’s all it takes!
Once I get to camp, I’m not that neat. But, here are a few of the things that I do:
- I fold my clothes, so I can see what I have and fit more in my cubbies.
- I pick a spot for my stationery, my flashlight, and books. I put things back in their places, so I can find them.
- I put my laundry away as soon as I get it. Otherwise, it could get dirty before I wear it.
- I keep track of the clothes my friends borrow from me. That way, I can make sure everything gets returned to me.
- I spray stain remover on my clothes before putting them in my laundry bag. Laundry is only done once or twice a week, so stains can become permanent if they’re not sprayed.
- I don’t put wet clothes in my laundry bag or cubbies. Otherwise, everything will smell.
Even though I do all that, when my mom comes into my bunk on visiting day, she can’t help herself…she rearranges and refolds EVERYTHING! And soon enough it’s time to come home and watch her UNPACK!
There are many things I love about springtime: the warmer weather, the blooms and buds on the trees, celebrating my birthday, and spring break! After the cold, dreary winter, I always look forward to travelling somewhere fun with my family. And while I used to dread the packing and unpacking, the planning and coordinating, I now have it down to a science. Here are some of my best travel tips that can help you travel smart and travel well! Bon Voyage!
- For airline travel, employ “the rule of fractions”. If there are four people in your family, pack a fourth of each person’s clothing in each piece of luggage. If luggage is lost or stolen, everyone will have enough to wear until it’s found.
- Plan your wardrobe around three pairs of shoes (think metallic). If you can pack one pair of shoes for all of your night time outfits, one pair of shoes for your day time wear, and one pair of sneakers, you have simplified and lightened your load.
- If you have clothes that are specific to a type of vacation (e.g., ski clothes), don’t integrate them into general clothing drawers. By keeping this type of clothing separate, you free up room in your drawers, and you save time packing by only having to gather clothing for that vacation in one area.
- Beware of bedbugs! Check the Bedbug Registry before you make any hotel reservations. The Bedbug Registry is a free, public database of user-submitted bed bug reports from across the U.S. and Canada.
- Consider traveling with pop-up laundry hampers for your whites and colors. Your hotel room will look much neater, and at the end of the vacation, pack the dirty laundry and fold up the hampers.
- Don’t be the only one not taking advantage of the “2 for 1 special”. Do your research ahead of time. Often there are coupons and discounts available for popular attractions and venues that can be found through a simple online search.
- Don’t get sold out: make dinner, spa, and other reservations before you arrive.
- Carry prescription medicines, cameras, laptops, and any expensive jewelry onboard with you.
- Charge cameras before you leave home, make sure you know how to operate them, and that they are working properly. Bring extra batteries and memory cards if needed.
- Remember that all family members, even babies, need passports for travel outside the US. Make copies of your passports and important documents, and keep them separate from the originals.
- Put a piece of hotel stationery in your children’s pockets. Even older children and older travellers may forget where they’re staying if they get lost, particularly in a foreign country.
- When packing for a holiday vacation, think light. Many airlines levy a charge for suitcases that weigh more than 50 pounds and most charge extra for more than one piece of luggage per person. If you’ve been accustomed to traveling with large, heavy pieces, invest in some lighter weight canvas/nylon carryalls.
- Delete unflattering, unfocused, and frivolous pictures on your camera as you take them. You’ll save time when you return home and are downloading and editing your pictures.
- For longer trips, ship toiletries to your destination one week in advance through an online drugstore such as drugstore.com. If you order enough, you may even qualify for free shipping. You’d be surprised how much sunblock, diapers, and shampoo can weigh.
- Bring a jump rope. You can always find a corner of the airport to let your child get rid of excess energy before boarding the plane. And, you can use it to exercise if you can’t get to a gym.
- Bring balloons. They’re light and can provide hours of entertainment when your children get tired of that jump rope!
- Strike a balance between packing too far in advance and not waiting until the night before the trip. I always recommend that the packing take place the weekend before the trip. Generally, you’re calmer then, and if there are things you need, you’ll have time to purchase them.
- It’s always helpful to pack small items in individual Ziploc bags. For example, undergarments and bathing suits can be stored in Ziploc bags, and then placed in the suitcase.
- Pack the suitcase in layers, and place heavier items on the bottom. For example, shoes go on the bottom of the suitcase along with jeans and sweatshirts, which are heavier than a silk blouse you may want to lay on the very top.
- To prevent wrinkling, put layers of tissue paper between items of clothing.