You know how I’ve been on a diet since sixth grade, right?
You didn’t know? I have been. It’s been wildly unsuccessful but every morning I get up expecting to do better.
I’ve also been making lists for nearly as long: books I want to read, places I want to see, shit I need to accomplish, birds I’ve seen, birds I want to see, random places I find cat barf in our house. . .
I like the lists. It gives me a feeling of efficiency and control. . .which the diet most certainly does not.
I need a list for the lists! I have a list of preparatory tasks. A list for the pets. A list of items to purchase. A list of items to pack (broken into sub-categories/bags/boxes). Nothing better illustrates my type A Psycho tendencies than my lists. . .
Since I consider myself somewhat of an ace in the list-making field (albeit, I’m often rather sucky in the execution of said lists), I thought I’d share with you how I gear up for a trip with the kid so that we aren’t over-packed or missing key items. I’m going to do this in - you guessed it – a list!
1. About a week prior to any trip – long or short – I make a list of things I need to accomplish. I write down EVERYTHING as it comes to mind: Cleaning, arrangements for the dogs, laundry, watering the plants. . .EVERY blessed thing I need to do in the next 5-7 days to get the house and our lives in order and get us out the door.
2. Then I REWRITE the list assigning each task a day creating a logical timeline (and allowing myself plenty of wiggle room for the unexpected. (Say for example I need to spend half a day relaxing because I can barely move from sleeping on the nursery floor for 3 nights).
3. I carefully cross check the new list with the original to make sure I haven’t omitted anything while re-writing it and I also make a note about what tasks I could “farm out” to my Husband or anyone else that will avail themselves to my taking advantage of them.
4. After I have planned the work, I get started. Nothing makes me feel better than getting stuff crossed off the list. . .well, maybe Huggy Bear’s sweet smile. . .
5. At some point in the week, there’s a reminder to make a packing list. I cannot tell you how heavily I rely on a packing list. I carefully plan where each items goes and then I take the list with us. I use the list when we are packing up for our return so I’m sure not to leave anything behind (except perhaps a mess and ill will on the part of our hosts).
6. I have discovered that by far, the easiest way to drag along way more stuff than necessary involves clothing. So I spend a decent amount of time, figuring out exactly what activities we are planning, whether or not we have access to laundry facilities, and exactly how many outfits I can create from the fewest number of pieces possible. (I even plot out the accessories down to which watch or bangle I’m wearing). I do this for myself and for Mac. (I even break it down by the outfits I plan for us to wear on our traveling days).
7. I keep the toiletries to a minimum. If we are going somewhere for a night, unless it’s a big event, there’s a decent chance I’m not dragging along a hair dryer or other styling tools, I’ll just plan to wear my hair up or under a scarf or hat for the following day. If we’re going to the beach with the kid, there’s no foreseeable need for an elaborate make up kit.
8. I always carefully plan what sorts of things are worth dragging along to keep Mac amused. I try to bring things that will get me the most “bang for our buck.” A shape sorter full of different colored blocks will keep him amused about 24 different ways. Board books that he can’t destroy are good for travel. I try to bring one item that is “automated” something that beeps, sings, etc. Preferably it’s been hidden away for a few days prior so he’s really excited to see it again.
9. Decide what makes you happy. You know what makes me happy? Sucking the soul out of my poor Husband Shoes and accessories. I might only pack 2 dresses, a shirt, shorts, skirt, and a blazer but I like options. I get that with 2-4 pair of shoes, a big bag, a clutch, scarves, and jewelry.
10. Really with the electronics? It’s soooooo tempting to drag along the MacBook, the tablet, the eReader, the camera with 4 lenses. . .But I’ve found it’s just not typically worth it. The cables and chargers alone! GAH! I seldom ever use a laptop on a trip. I make sure the camera is prepped – empty memory cards, extra memory cards, so I don’t have to download pics mid-trip. I try to keep it to a camera, a smart phone, and sometimes the eReader depending on the trip. The iPhone alone does almost anything you need it to in a pinch. I also bring along a journal and pens. I like the idea of journaling our memories every evening by hand while on vacation. I can digitize everything when we get back to “the real world.” If I think there’s going to be a lot of downtime, sometimes I’ll bring along a little sketch or watercolor kit – just for fun. And of course reading material – electronic or paper.
So as you can see, we are still going along with the trip as originally planned. Should things change, I’ll merely have to put away about 10 loads worth of crap, get the usual grocery order, and drink a lot of rum BY MYSELF. Could be worse, no?
Meanwhile, I’ve decided that if you have to pack your own toilet paper, you can be certain you are definitely taking a trip and NOT a vacation.