Vacation Smarter—and Happier—by Getting Organized

Heading somewhere? For families across the country, summer is synonymous with vacation. Vacation, though, is not always synonymous with relaxation. Wrong turns, cranky kids and hauling overstuffed luggage around can chip away at the fun.

There’s good news, though. By taking the time and effort to plan your vacation on the front end, you can ensure that you and your family have maximum enjoyment this summer. Here’s how.

Outline your itinerary

Even the most fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants people benefit from a little planning. Before you embark on your vacation, create an itinerary for yourself. This doesn’t have to be a stodgy minute-by-minute account of what you’ll do on your trip. Rather, it’s a rough outline of where you’ll be when so you can be properly prepared.

If you’re driving, plan your route, and identify where you can stop for gas, breaks, and meals along the way. That way you know where you can fill your tank before you hit empty, answer mother nature’s call, and feed the troops before they melt down.

Whatever your mode of travel, be sure to include pockets of free time in your itinerary. Though there’ll be must-see sites at your destination, you’ll also want to have downtime and the flexibility to explore what the area offers that isn’t in the guidebooks.

Take a vacation from overpacking

Some people toss half their wardrobe in their suitcase the night before a vacation so they’re ready for anything. When you’re more selective about what you bring, you free yourself of extra stuff that can drag you down—sometimes literally.

Besides having to lug a heavy bag, overpacking on the front end means more laundry when you get home. If you’ve ever returned from a vacation and realized you’ve only worn a fraction of what you packed—but washed everything anyway to get rid of the suitcase smell—then you get the idea.

Instead, start with identifying what clothing is appropriate for your destination. Weather, of course, is an importance factor in deciding what to pack, but also consider what outings you’ll be enjoying, who you’ll be seeing, and where you’ll be dining. Select items that don’t wrinkle easily. Try to choose pieces that work for multiple occasions and mix and match with other items in your bag. If you’re staying in a place with laundry facilities, then you can lighten your load even more.

Don’t forget to relax

In the modern world, work can follow you anywhere thanks to technology. It can be tempting to check your business email, dial in for a conference call, or write up a quick report while you’re away, but remember why you went on vacation in the first place. It wasn’t to work. It was to take a break for the day-to-day grind, make precious memories with your loved ones, and reconnect with yourself, all while enjoying a change of scenery.

By getting organized at work before you travel, you can ensure that someone will cover for you while you’re gone so you can truly enjoy your vacation—and come home recharged.