I swear it happens every time I am going away, even for just a day! I think about what won’t get done while I’m gone, what must be done before I go, not to mention packing and getting ready! So how do you deal with it?
The first thing is to prioritize. Of course you have to pack. I cruised once with a tablemate that didn’t have time to pack. She thought she would have time to stop and pick up a few things on the way, but that didn’t happen. She didn’t even have a toothbrush with her! You obviously can’t leave out the time to pack, but getting a good list for packing is very important. In general, people bring way too many things when they go on vacation. I have gotten much better at this, usually only bringing home one or two items that didn’t get worn. I try to pack a weekend beforehand and then reevaluate what was packed to be sure I will wear it. I may end up pulling a few things out then. With cruises, I evaluate how many times in the past I have used something (over the door shoe holder, binoculars, etc.) to see if I think I should keep it on my list or not. I also look at the trip I will be on and how it will differ from others in the past. For example, on my next cruise it will be a three night cruise. We usually bring an over the door shoe holder, but I will not for this one since my husband isn’t going.
Next priority needs to be things that absolutely must be done before you go – stopping the mail, petsitters, verifying time off of work, paying bills that will come due while you are gone, things that if you don’t take care of them, you may not be going anywhere. These are a high priority.
There are things that you would like to get done, but really aren’t a priority. I don’t like coming home to a dirty house, so I like to clean before I go. This, however, isn’t a must. If something has to wait, the house will. I will make sure dishes are clean, garbage is out, etc., but dusting, vacuuming, etc. can all wait. Same with laundry. Washing everything before I go is preferred, but if it doesn’t happen, vacation will still go on.
Remember too that in most cases, you can pick up forgotten items at the store on your way or once you reach your destination. There are certain things though that are critical to have. Your money/credit cards and any required documents (birth certificates or passports for cruises, photo IDs for planes, etc.). I start a folder before most trips with my confirmations. As I get closer to the trip, I put my passport in there if it is needed. I also put in my boarding passes when I print them out. I don’t leave the house without my folder!
You definitely want to do what you can to leave for vacation less stressed and to avoid the added stress when you return home, but remember, if you can get by with leaving something unfinished that will save you some stress in getting ready to go, it is worth it.
I better get packing!
I found the key to stress-free packing is having a packing list. I am really bad about waiting to the last minute. I often pack the day of the cruise. Yes, even for an 11-night cruise I packed that morning. My packing list is in Excel and on the computer. I have a column with yes, no or “N/A” that I fill out throughout packing. I haven’t forgotten anything important since I started using that list.
The list includes everything from sunscreen to passports, dress shoes to medicines. There are over 100 items on the list, yet it only takes me an extra 15 minutes to use it.
I have versions of the list geared towards cruising, snow skiing, Disney World and visiting family. I even have a “generic” list for the next time.
My Mom is the worst about over-packing. She usually comes to my house before we leave on vacation with one suitcase – and then proceeds to hand me five bags of stuff while saying “oh, please put this in your suitcase, it didn’t fit in mine!”, After three cruises of this (and an additional suitcase each time), I now have her write notes during our cruise and leave it in the suitcase. Things like “I didn’t wear 7 polo shirts, it was too hot. Next time bring 2”. This way when she opens her suitcase to pack the next time, she has some quick notes to remind her not to overpack!
Great idea Susan! I’ll have to suggest that to others!