Jul 062012
 

A road trip packing checklist ensures that you’ll be well prepared for your next road trip.  I’ve created a free, downloadable checklist in Microsoft Word that is customizable so that you can modify it to fit your needs.  This checklist focuses exclusively on the items that are specific to a road trip- for packing checklists for clothes and other general travel items see the General Packing Checklist and the Toiletries Packing Checklist.  For kid-specific items, see the Kids Packing Checklist.

Items that are unique to a road trip packing checklist include:

  • Sporting Gear (you probably do at least one of the following on a road trip: swimming, fishing, hiking, golf, tennis, camping… and they all require extra gear beyond your regular clothes)
  • Snack Foods and Drinks that can be eaten during the ride (so that you’re not tempted to spend money on snacks at gas stations)
  • Breakfast Food and Drinks for after you reach your destination (I’ll explain the benefits of this below)

Sporting Gear

Since the downloadable checklist is customizable, you’ll be able to delete the gear I listed and add in whatever sports gear you will use (life vests, goggles, fishing poles, compass, whatever) .

Snack Foods

Packing enough snacking food and drinks for the car ride is critical to conserving money on a road trip- if you or your passengers get hungry and you don’t have something to offer, you’re going to waste money at the next gas station buying junk food.  Cheap and easy snack foods include celery sticks, carrot sticks, popcorn, and trail mix.  Pack lots of individual bottles of water, juice, and/or soda so that no one gets thirsty.  (Of course, you want to keep things as healthy as possible, but if you or your passenger will insist on buying a soda on the trip anyway, then it’s better to preempt that costly compulsion by bringing along a soda that costs a fraction of gas station/fast food prices.)

Destination Foods

We save $10-$20 per day on road trips by bringing our breakfast foods with us instead of eating out at restaurants, coffee shops, or fast food places.  We bring individual packets of instant oatmeal, or cereal (either a big box, or a bunch of those single-portion cereal boxes).  For the milk, we bring single-portion aseptic milks (you know, the little milks in rectangular boxes that don’t need to be refrigerated).  To drink, we bring Starbucks VIA instant coffee (expensive, but still not as expensive/time consuming as buying at a coffee shop).  For creamer, we either bring a powdered creamer (not that tasty), or a box of those little single-serve cuppies of aseptic half and half- sold next to the coffee and hot chocolate in the grocery store.  And for our 5-year-old daughter we bring single-portion boxes of aseptic chocolate milk, or instant hot cocoa mix.  As to fruit, we either eat the tangerines we bring with us, or we pick up fresh fruit from a grocery store in the town we’re in.

Don’t get me wrong, I love trying out a good coffee shop in a new town, and eating pancakes and eggs in a sit-down restaurant.  And we do that- we just don’t do it every day of the road trip. By bringing along our breakfast foods we save a lot of money, and we save time, too- often, we want to get right to the day’s activity (like fishing, hiking, swimming), and waiting in line at a coffee shop just gets in the way of that.

Free Downloadable Road Trip Packing Checklist:

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You might also want to check out Part I of this travel packing list series: a General Packing ChecklistPart II: a packing checklist for health and beauty items, and Part III: Kids Packing Checklist.  If you’re looking for road trip activities for kids, check out this free, downloadable packet from LivingLifeIntentionally.

Jun 052012
 

Vacations run much smoother when you haven’t forgotten to pack some of your kids’ gear.  Here is a customizable, free packing checklist for kids and parents to use so that nothing is left behind when you go on vacation.  It includes often forgotten items like a thermometer and Children’s Tylenol (which can potentially save you a trip to Urgent Care).  I also added sections for summer items and winter items.  The packing checklist is a Microsoft Words document, so you can edit it pretty easily, but I included instructions nonetheless in case you’re not familiar with that program.  The key to success when using a checklist is to actually check off each item when, and only when, it has been placed in the suitcase.  So print off one checklist for each child, and let them start packing!

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You might also want to check out Part I of this travel packing list series: a general packing list for travel, and Part II: a packing checklist for health and beauty items.  Stay tuned for Part IV, where I’ll cover road trip checklists.

May 222012
 

In Part I of this travel packing list series, I gave you a general packing list for travel so that you’d remember to pack your clothes, shoes, etc.  Here in Part II I’m providing a free downloadable “Toiletry Checklist,” which is a customizable packing checklist for all of your beauty and hygiene items (razor, tweezers, make-up, sunscreen, etc.).  The likelihood of forgetting to pack at least one beauty or hygiene item is pretty high- and that means you might end up buying replacements at the hotel gift shop at ridiculously prices.   And it never feels good to spend your traveling “fun money” on things you already own at home. So print out one of these toiletry checklists for each family member, and ask them to check off each item as they pack it.

Stay tuned for Part III, where I’ll provide a travel checklist for kids, and Part IV, where I’ll cover road trip checklists.

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May 162012
 

Using “packing checklists” to prepare for travel is a great way to prevent unnecessary purchases while on vacation.  I’ve had to buy everything from disposable razors to socks to tennis shoes because of packing amnesiaAnd it never feels good to spend your traveling “fun money” on things you already own at home.  But travel checklists are a great way to make sure nothing is forgotten- each item is checked off as it is packed. Packing checklists are especially helpful for family travel- each family member gets their own checklist printed out for them to use.  Parents can then see which items still need to be packed for each kid.

Since we’re nearing the start of travel season here in the U.S.  it seemed like a great time to do a four-part series on travel checklists, with free downloadable forms included.  Part I is the general packing checklist for adults- basically, everything except toiletries (beauty and hygiene products), which have their own checklist in Part II.  The kids’ checklist is in Part III.  And Part IV is a road trip checklist.

So, back to Part I: The General Packing Checklist.  It includes your important documents (passport, cash, etc), your electronics (laptop, camera, mobile phone, iPod…), your clothes, your jewelry, and your entertainment (books, diary, etc).  I created a customizable packing checklist that includes each item within those categories, with check boxes next to them.  When you look at the checklist you might think, “Isn’t it excessive to list “cell phone” and “cell phone charger” and “headset” separately, each with their own check box?”  My answer is, “No.”  If you just list “Cell phone, etc” with one check box, I can pretty much guaranty you that someone using the list will forget one of the accessory items.  Maybe the only “someone” to do that would be me.  But, maybe not. :)

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Feb 092012
 

Any book that promises to divulge the secrets of “uncluttering your home and taking control of your life” is one that will catch my attention.  Thankfully, the author of Confessions of an Organized Homemakerprovides enough concrete tips, and inspirational pep talk, to warrant that attention.
The author, Deniece Schofield, uses a friendly and conversational style to walk us chronically disorganized readers through the steps of organizing both home and life.
She provides detailed and concrete tips in the areas of:

  • Keeping your house clean
  • Basic organizing principles, including how to organize your kitchen for maximum efficiency and how to organize your kids’ toys
  • How to make plans so that you accomplish what you need to accomplish
  • How to manage a calendar and schedule
  • Meal planning
  • Managing paperwork (bills, magazines, kids’ art, receipts, etc)
  • Basic storage principles

She also includes some excellent advice on how to inspire your spouse and children become organized.  Some of the advice is dated, as this book was published in 2000, before smartphone calendars became widely used.  So those of you who are already proficient at managing your calendar via your smart phone, or want to learn how to do so, should just skip the chapter on paper calendaring.  But most of her advice stands the test of time.  For instance, here are some tips that I found really helpful:

  • Group dirty dishes in the dishwasher according to where they’ll be put away- it cuts the unloading time in half, as you don’t have to hunt-and-pick to find all the glasses for the glass shelf.
  • Hole-punch Ziploc bags and put them in a binder, and use it for organizing sandpaper (my husband has mounds of half-used sandpaper that clog up his garage workbench, so he liked this tip).
  • Go nuts installing drawer dividers.  The more your drawers are divided, with a compartment for each item, the less likely they are to get messy.

This book is probably most helpful for those who are fundamentally disorganized and need a basic framework for getting things in order; however, it’s still a worthwhile read for those of us who are somewhat organized but still have “trouble spots” (my trouble spots?  My laundry routine, my desk area, the garage…).  It wasn’t a mind-blowing book, but certainly one I’d recommend to a friend.  I’d say I gleaned about 10 pieces of good advice that I hadn’t heard before.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave comments!

Apr 082011
 

Until about a month ago, our bathroom looked fairly tidy, but that was an illusion, of course, because the cabinet doors and drawers were bursting with clutter.  And, I’m going to take a WILD guess that many of you can relate to this.
For us, the medicine cabinet is full of expired prescriptions and ancient tubes of Neosporin, and the cabinets under the sink contain the following proportions of crap: 90%: bottles of hair products, 5%: hair appliances (mostly curling irons I never use), 5%: my husband’s man-grooming stuff (electric shaver, old razors, hair clippers…).
The Challenge:  Let’s organize our bathroom clutter!  (By the way, for the most part this is a kid-friendly job- if they’re old enough, they can tackle a task themselves- if they’re young, they can play with all the clutter as you organize it.)
I like to tackle one part of the bathroom at a time, so that the task seems more manageable.

Vanity Top: Take everything off and clean the surface.  It’s much easier to keep a surface tidy if it has less stuff on it, so consider returning only the following items to the vanity top:

  • soap dispenser
  • potted plant
  • candle

Just throw the rest of the stuff into a drawer- I’m sure that drawer can’t get any messier than it is anyway!
Medicine Cabinet: Throw out all expired prescriptions- once they’ve expired, you’ll never know when they’ll lose their effectiveness, so it’s just not safe to use them.  And if you have kids, all the more reason to clear out as many unnecessary medications as possible, to reduce the chance that you child will accidentally ingest something dangerous.  For that same reason, consider putting all medication into a lock box that is stored on a high shelf in a closet.
Drawers/Cabinets:  Empty one at a time, setting aside items destined for donation or the trash.  Find some old Tupperwares, Ziploc baggies, or shoe boxes, and sort the remaining items into them (all shampoos in one, all hair pomade in another, etc).  Label the containers so that it’s easy to see what’s inside of them, then return them to the cabinet or drawer.  Now, the Ziplocs or shoe boxes might not look very attractive to you, so if you’re so inclined (and have the money to pay for it), write down the dimensions of the containers you would want to buy and have fun shopping for them!
Shower/Bathtub:  Take out extra items so that you leave, at most, only one shampoo, conditioner, and soap for each person.  If you don’t have a shelf in your shower area then you’ll need to invest in a shower organizer to keep this stuff tidy (either the kind that hang over your shower head, like this one, the kind that use spring-tension to stand floor-to-ceiling, like this one, or the kind that suction-cup to the wall, like this one).  A small bin that suctions to the wall (check out this one) is perfect for storing bath toys.

Have fun!