July 27, 2011

Summer Vacation Essentials - Write It Down!

As a child and into my teens, I spent summers with my family north of Toronto or in Canada's breathtaking Maritime provinces.  Whether it was for a weekend or a full week, we always had a very organized way of packing that made travelling with 6 people or more (2 adults, 4 kids, and sometimes a tag-along friend) easy!  I now do the same when travelling with my husband and 2 boys.  Our summer cottage vacations are a 4-hour drive away - forgetting an essential item at home is not an option!  To avoid this from happening, I start a Cottage Spreadsheet a week before we leave, adding to it each day.  We use it to pack, and to double-check.

It may seem tedious, but it works for us.  It's extremely rare that we forget something important.  Having to run around Northern Ontario buying things we already have at home doesn't seem like a fun way to spend a vacation!

Here is an example of this year's spreadsheet (still in the works):

swimwearladybug pillowbaby monitorbedtime books for boys
alarm clockAce dolldiapers/wipessmall lego tub
daily medspull upsfaceclothscolouring stuff
first aid kitBig-A bodywashLil-J shampooboard games
advil5 x shorts / t'sLil-J soapplay pool
boys meds2xpants/long shirts2 stuffed toyslife jackets
crocks/runners/flipflops2xpj's (short&long)blankiessunscreen
sweater eachswim shorts /
white t's
Lil-J foodlaptop / ipod / chargers
water shoes1 hoody sweatercream (face & body)portable dvd player
water shoes5 x shorts / t-shirtsmovies
2xpants / long shirtsDS & games
2 x pj's (short & long)car drawing boards for boys
swim shorts / white t'ssun hats
1 hoody sweaterbananagrams/bingo
water shoeshumidifier

I even make a list for meal plans.  When other family members are at the cottage too, it's makes it easier to split up meals.  This way we know what food to bring, what food to buy, and what day we're cooking.

If your child is old enough, have him/her write or type up their own list, even down to specific bedtime toys or books or car games/toys that they want to bring.  This will help to avoid last-minute additions to suitcases and will quicken the packing process.  It will also help to teach them responsibility.  Give them a limit - 4 books and 2 bedtime toys.  Let them make a decision on what they will bring.

The great thing about using a list to pack for a trip is that you also have a guide when packing to go home.  Leaving things behind at a cottage is far worse than leaving things behind at home!  Bring an extra copy of the list with you and check items off as you pack them up.

Vacation is fun, and should be stress-free.  Packing and unpacking can be a hassle, so why not make life easier and use a list to help?  It will help to keep things organized, and will help to avoid lost or forgotten items.

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