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Planning and Ordering our Days
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Angie Mc
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Posted: May 12 2010 at 10:49am | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

Our family does a lot of things well. I know we do. And we fail miserably at packing to go on a trip...any trip, be it short or long. Suddenly, our orderly family becomes a bundle of frustration, inefficiency, and time-wasters.

I once stayed with a family in CA (dad, mom, 2 school-aged children) and was amazed to watch this scenario unfold...Dad came home and announced, "Hey, let's go to Disneyland. We'll leave in a half hour." And they did. I've been pining for anything close to this experience ever since.

How do you get out of the house quickly? Do you sacrifice the perfectly packed bag for a less orderly "grab and go" method? How do you spend less time packing and more time being on the actual trip?

I'm going to analyze our recent weekend trip to see how our family can come up with a better strategy for future trips. Any tips?

Love,

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 11:05am | IP Logged Quote JodieLyn

Lists.. organized SPECIFIC lists

And keep them.. I use my email drafts

When we go on a trip I pull up a list.. my best are my camping lists with all the specific equipment.

No time for thinking or hemming or hawing on what or which.. just go down the list.. grab things and you're ready.

Having good bags helps too. If everyone has a bag that is there's to take.. then there's no figuring out which bags for which things.

If you have a list like

undies X days gone
socks X days gone
pants or shorts x days gone (at least one of each)
dress clothes for Church (if appropriate)

*hint* if we're camping or such.. dress clothes may mean a good pair of jeans and a polo shirt for the boys and a skirt to go with a casual top for the girls so that you're only packing one extra item each for Church.

If you want to check over items.. have them each make piles on the table rather than packing them.. so that you can easily check over it (most helpful for the in training to pick your own things ages)

on longer trips.. determine if you'll be able to do laundry and pack accordingly so that you are carrying less.. but don't cut it too close.. say you figure you can get a couple loads done on the 3rd day.. don't just take 3 days of clothes.. take 4.. just in case you can't get it done that day.

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JennGM
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Posted: May 12 2010 at 11:10am | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Yes, like Jodie said, a list. Since I do the packing, I have mistakenly not put it down on paper, so it's a mental list.

But I should write it down. Lists according to clothes, season, and then if it's a hotel or staying at family house (different things are available, like irons and washers and dryers). If I'm going to be in remote location I worry more than if I'm right near a grocery store to pick things up.

Meds and toiletries are a separate list, and then food lists, depending on if just snack or full meals.

But then I was going to also chime in that PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. Really, we travel more spontaneously and I can pack in a few hours relatively quickly. It's gotten easier. The first few times set panic within me.

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hylabrook1
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Posted: May 12 2010 at 11:14am | IP Logged Quote hylabrook1

I try to mentally walk through the event and activities, as well as our personal situation. Here's a start: we're going to be sleeping in a hotel - go into my bathroom and look for whatever we use in getting ready for bed. What do we wear? Need nighties and clean undies, maybe shower flip-flops. I dump all of these articles on my bed. Same deal for other things that will be part of the trip. Okay - shorts, socks, tee-shirt for the day; will it get chilly at night? add a sweatshirt.

When I have a massive pile on the bed, I add a white plastic trash bag for dirty/worn clothes; I look at the toiletries and such - do I need to throw things into a gallon-sized Zip-loc bag? I try to sort the toiletries into *functional* bags. Is this the toothpaste that the whole family needs, or is it personal to one of us only? Shared items grouped together, personal in each person's Zip-loc.

If I've had advanced warning of the trip, I make a list of what to remember to bring, and what to remember to do before we leave. Neighbors picking up mail and newspaper; windows all closed and locked; toilets all flushed (sorry about that one, but coming home to a closed up house when this hasn't been attended to is really ).

I ask the older children to pull together their stuff, and to help a younger do the same. Then I either ask them a bunch of questions to be sure they have the bases covered or inspect before they put the stuff in their bag.

In case you haven't guessed, Angie, on the Myers-Briggs I am a definite *J*.

Peace,
Nancy
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Posted: May 12 2010 at 11:16am | IP Logged Quote hylabrook1

I think we're all cross-posting ; interesting how similar our procedures are, though.

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JodieLyn
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Posted: May 12 2010 at 11:20am | IP Logged Quote JodieLyn

when it works... it works

I keep my lists since I started writing them down in email drafts and it's SO MUCH EASIER when I can just go over an existing list and update or add things to that rather than doing the whole thing from scratch every time.

and it always helps to remember that you can get any otc meds most places you're going, toiletries, even undies or socks if someone doesn't remember them.. it's not a disaster, and that let's you move faster and worry less.

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Angie Mc
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Posted: May 12 2010 at 12:04pm | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

JodieLyn wrote:
No time for thinking or hemming or hawing on what or which.. just go down the list.. grab things and you're ready....

Having good bags helps too. ...

If you want to check over items.. have them each make piles on the table rather than packing them..


on longer trips.. determine if you'll be able to do laundry


I have a list ...that's the frustrating thing! I think that part of our problem is that we mentally go on vacation before we're actually packed . We don't so much hem and haw as...dawdle...talk aboug the fun we'll have...hope someone else will do the work!

Our list, though, hasn't been used efficiently. It's one list and everyone, theoretically, chips in. I think that I need to assign specific tasks on the list...and time it!

As for the bags, I need to rethink our current situation...we have all sorts of bags, from regulation luggaged to garbage bags. I think I need to make bag decisions ahead of time and...we need some sort of over-night bag or back pack assinged to each person. (We did this at one point but dropped it when we tried to combine packed clothes into larger bags.)

We have each of the children put their stuff on the foot of the beds for checking. That works.

I definitely love having access to laundry while on longer vacations! And I pay through the nose for the detergent as a way to cut down on packing and worry!

I'm so happy to see several posts waiting to be read! I'll check in a little later...keep 'em coming!

Love,


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Posted: May 12 2010 at 12:18pm | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

I think the thing that would help me improve this process is to keep up with washing and putting away clothes. We often end up spending lots of time looking for the items we want to pack because they aren't in their proper places.

In contrast, I keep all dd's dance stuff organized in one place - and we can get out the door in an amazingly short time...

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 12:22pm | IP Logged Quote Servant2theKing

Beyond lists (and these ideas are awesome), it can be helpful to keep certain items packed and always ready...whether for short or long trips, it can be very helpful to keep some items always packed and handy, especially if they're things that are mainly used for travel.

We keep a container in our MB closet (since we don't have a coat closet)....it's always loaded with:
~non-perishable snacks
~chargers for cell phones & MP3 players
~maps & mapbook
~extra gloves & ski bands in winter/sunglasses &   
sunscreen in summer
~car sickness supplies
~first aid supplies & small first aid book (men's
toiletry bags or an old cash box work well for this
purpose)
~bags for trash

Ziploc bags keep many of these items sorted and tidy. The container is covered with a quilted pillow sham, which keeps everything somewhat undisturbed. Whenever we need to leave the house someone is assigned the task of grabbing the "golden basket", adding extra supplies if needed, then carrying it to the van.

For longterm travel, we've found nesting, stacking bins and backpacks work better for us than suitcases. It can sometimes be helpful to group clothing for everyone in the entire family according to activities and/or the number of days you'll be gone. For instance, if you'll be going to Mass on a trip, pack dress clothes for Mass for the entire family all together...this saves time hunting for each person's items indiviually.

We keep a small cooler in our pantry, always ready to be loaded. We recently acquired water bottles and have a bucket with hand holes which is the perfect size for carrying them. DC keep a travel backpack always packed and ready with their favorite items to use in the car.

It really helps if you have established places for things you need to grab whenever you're on the go. Many items that would be needed for short or long term trips are stored near our main entrance. Whenever we come home, those items are immediately returned to the appropriate spot...a routine that has developed gently, which makes leaving the house and coming home much smoother!

DH and I were recently discussing putting together a binder or notebook for maps and directions that we get online. We realized that we often find ourselves printing up the same maps...it makes sense to keep them in a binder for future use, rather than wasting time, effort, paper and ink repeating the task. A GPS would be much easier, but until we have the funds, or the GPS fairy drops one in our laps, this is the next best thing we could come up with. Extending the map binder to a travel notebook, including lists such as those already mentioned, would be very handy!   

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 12:40pm | IP Logged Quote Becky Parker

I agree with keeping some things packed Servant. Our vacations are usually camping or condos. For both, we need to bring our own towels. I have a large duffle bag (army sized) that I pack towels, washcloths, beachtowels and dish cloths and towels in. When we get home from a vacation, those are washed and repacked so that bag is ready to go for next time. I do the same thing with sheets, but I don't keep them in the same bag with the towels because we don't need sheets for camping.

I've even been known to set aside some of the kids clothes for vacation purposes and keep them packed since we often go on several camping trips each summer. That's harder to do for long periods of time though because the kids grow out of things.

Then, if you want to talk camping I have a whole bunch more stuff that I keep packed! I keep it all organized in rubbermaid-type bins and drawers in an unused closet.

I'll admit, even with lists and having some things ready to go I still find it stressful. We try to pack our own food for most trips (it's not always easy to find GF on the road) and that does add to the work. Having a list of "vacation menus" helps, but I'm always frantically packing coolers the hour before we leave.

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 12:44pm | IP Logged Quote hylabrook1

Servant - I totally agree about keeping a binder of mapquest (or whatever you use) maps and driving directions in the car; Page protectors for them would be a good idea to keep them in in the binder (no need to punch the papers, and no weak punched holes in the paper to rip and make another mess). Haven't done this yet, but have been planning to for a while.

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 12:45pm | IP Logged Quote JodieLyn

Camping really should be a seperate thread.. I have some great lists too.. and like you Becky, I keep them organized in various containers.. and they're labeled (dishes box, tool box, first aid kit) and each box has it's own list.

Speaking of which I do need to go over that soon.. maybe I'll start a thread.

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 12:47pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Becky Parker wrote:
I'll admit, even with lists and having some things ready to go I still find it stressful. We try to pack our own food for most trips (it's not always easy to find GF on the road) and that does add to the work. Having a list of "vacation menus" helps, but I'm always frantically packing coolers the hour before we leave.


Angie, were you looking for stress-free solutions? Because even though I can pack quickly, I still do stress out, just like Becky said. Out of my way when I'm running through the lists and gathering and making sure I have everything!

Nancy, that's how I pack. I walk in a room and mentally walk through what I use in that room and what I'll need on the trip.

Years ago someone gave this obvious tip: after traveling, when you come home, refill your toiletries bag with things you used, so it's ready to go for the next trip. That's what I keep packed: toiletries, with a few straggling items to add, and some meds to go. So when we come back, I try to make sure I replenish so I don't have to rethink on the next trip.

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 1:08pm | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

JennGM wrote:
Since I do the packing...

Meds and toiletries are a separate list, and then food lists, depending on if just snack or full meals.

But then I was going to also chime in that PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. I can pack in a few hours...


When it was just me packing, I had it down to an art. I took a leisurely approach, mental lists, and then dh helped pull it together quickly at the end. Hmmmmmmmmm...now I have children/teens packing...and my dh really needs most of the packing done without him. Yep...we need a new system!

I'm wondering about having a "family bag" that is pre-packed. At this point I'm willinig to spend some money on basics and duplicates for Meds, toiletries, clothing...to have it ready to go! Still thinking on this.

Food. I already have pantry ready goods. Maybe I need to have a few things hidden away for that spontaneous trip!

Is it unrealistic to think that our family can drop everything and be ready in an hour?

I've been thinking about actually practicing the "drop everything and leave in an hour." Hey, maybe we can go and get a treat if we actually make our time. I'm not above rewards .

Love,

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 1:19pm | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

hylabrook1 wrote:
I try to mentally walk through the event and activities, as well as our personal situation...

I add a white plastic trash bag for dirty/worn clothes; ...gallon-sized Zip-loc bag? ...Shared items grouped together, personal in each person's Zip-loc.

Then I either ask them a bunch of questions to be sure they have the bases covered or inspect before they put the stuff in their bag.

In case you haven't guessed, Angie, on the Myers-Briggs I am a definite *J*.



I think what I'm trying to move away from is *me* doing the mental walk-throughs, the asking questions, the nudging. Now that I write that, I'm starting to see that I may be dealing with an obedience/discipline issue. I'll think on that.

Now I'm picturing the "family bag" including:

large garbage bags
ziplocks
papertowels
knife
underwear
pajamas
disposable toothbrushes and toothpaste
cash for emergency purchases

Oh, another consideration...if we're driving and my van is well stocked, then some of the packing is done. But, how does it always end up that when we're about to go on a trip, my van isn't well-stocked?! I don't think that I can count on the well-stocked van...need to completely contain the travel stuffs.

Nancy, on the Meyer's Briggs I'm the one that can never remember which Meyer's Briggs letters they are .

Read and replying a post at a time...just talking this through is a major help. Thanks!

Love,

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 1:23pm | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

JodieLyn wrote:

I keep my lists since I started writing them down in email drafts and it's SO MUCH EASIER when I can just go over an existing list and update or add things to that rather than doing the whole thing from scratch every time.

and it always helps to remember that you can get any otc meds most places you're going, toiletries, even undies or socks if someone doesn't remember them.. it's not a disaster, and that let's you move faster and worry less.


I need to streamline my lists. I really do. I added onto them for so many years and so many different scenarios that they have become cumbersome. Streamline, Angie, streamline!

Jodie, you are right on about being able to pick some items up if needed. There was a time when money was soooooooooo tight that I would just despair if "I made a mistake" and didn't pack everything and we had to pay extra money. I need to see that I'm in a different place financially. How about in the "family bag" I put in some cash for emergency purchases?

Love,

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 1:30pm | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

guitarnan wrote:
I think the thing that would help me improve this process is to keep up with washing and putting away clothes. We often end up spending lots of time looking for the items we want to pack because they aren't in their proper places.

In contrast, I keep all dd's dance stuff organized in one place - and we can get out the door in an amazingly short time...


Ugh, ugh, ugh! The LAUNDRY challenge! And even if I feel I'm caught up with laundry, someone wants their favorite clothes for the trip that they just wore yesterday . When we're planning a big trip, I do give the children a few days warning and ask them to put aside their clothes for the trip. But if we're leaving at the last minute...hmmmm...seems like a natural consquences scenario - if you haven't put your clothes away properly, then choose from what is available. Period.

And you know we are on the ball for baseball! Maybe my children need to have "travel uniforms" . Not only do they have their own bags for baseball, but I have a separate hamper for their uniforms (I wash them together), and they have a corner in the garage for their stuff. Now I'm wondering...

I think I need a space carved out in the garage for "trips." That where we can have the pre-packed family bag, the over-night bags, the laminated (did I say laminated?) streamlined list, and...

Now we're getting somewhere!

Love,

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 1:37pm | IP Logged Quote JodieLyn

or seperate.. not just streamline

have lists for things you know you do often enough..

going away for a weekend staying in a hotel list

going to stay with family for a week

Winter travel

Summer travel

And have a line item at the end for something like

"special activities requiring special items" and then you can add the special things before printing for that trip.

You can combine lists for a trip..

your week staying with family might include your everyday outfits but in the summer you'd check the summer list as well to remember swimsuits, beach towels, shorts (but at least one pair of pants) etc.

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 1:43pm | IP Logged Quote JodieLyn

Oh!! another big help..

get the vehicle ready FIRST..

then move things TO THE VEHICLE as soon as they're ready to go. You can check them off and know that someone didn't just move it to another room without you seeing it leave.. plus it feels so much better to have things actually crossed off the list because they're completely done.

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Posted: May 12 2010 at 2:14pm | IP Logged Quote hylabrook1

Something we keep in the car is a dishpan containing baby wipes (because these have lots of uses), a roll of paper towels, and a box of kleenex. This slides under the middle seat of the mini-van. The dishpan can be dumped out really quickly whenever somebody turns green....

Why do I have so many ideas about stuff?

Peace,
Nancy
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