Sunday, November 15, 2009

Preparing to Travel: Make a List

A couple weeks ago, my dad decided to come from Denver to visit us, which was really great. I assumed when he came that he and my step-mom would stay somewhere nearby, but when they arrived and called me to let me know they were here, I found out that they were staying at a suite in Park City. My dad has a time-share in Orlando, but because he doesn't often use it, and because Orlando is such a popular destination, he has extra weeks that he can exchange for. Obviously, October isn't a popular time for trips to Park City, so it wasn't hard to use one of his weeks there.

At the time, all three of us were sick with a stomach virus and our place was a disaster. The thought of them seeing our apartment in that condition was not appealing, so when I found out that they had this huge suite, with two bedrooms, a living room, and a full-sized kitchen, I jumped at the chance to go there instead (and Aaron, despite feeling awful, was willing to come along. What a good sport!). I wanted to get there as soon as possible so we could get settled and Alex could take his nap, so we packed fairly quickly. Not surprisingly, we forgot some things, and not just unimportant some things, but essential some things. These included my husband's medication (which must be taken every night), the camera, the white noise machines (very helpful for Alex and Aaron to sleep), and Alex's pajamas.

The reason I forgot so many things was I didn't have a list. Lists are important things to me. I make a list of things I need to do, I make lists of items I need to buy, and I make lists of topics I want to write about. Lists keep you organized and help you when you have a frazzled brain (as I had when I was rushing around stuffing items into suitcases).

So when we made a second unexpected trip (in less than a month), the first thing I did this time was make a list. I decided that instead of writing it down, I would type it up on my computer. This way whenever we made a trip in the future, I could print it out and I would less likely forget anything. Then I took that list and I walked around the house. Whenever I saw something that should have been on there, I wrote it down and later added it to my computer list. And guess what: I didn't forget anything on the trip to Washington (which was pretty important since unlike Park City, we were more than 45 minutes away). Sure, we forgot to bring the camera with us when we saw family, but at least we got the camera to Washington.

So even if you're not planning a trip anytime soon, take a minute and make a list. You can separate the items by each person in your family, and have a separate section for each season, and then as you pack check off the item as it's put into the suitcase. You'll spend a lot less time trying to think if you're forgetting anything and you won't get to your destination without any underwear.

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