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July 2009: Planning a Trip

Vacations are something we look forward to all year long but require a lot of planning. If you think ahead you won’t be stuck at the last minute! Where are those passports? Oops they expired! No one to look after the cats! Help! Here’s how to avoid these last minute problems.

Whether you are going camping, visiting family or taking a cruise the first thing you need to do is make a list. List everything you need to do to get yourself and your house ready. Ask a neighbour to water flowers and take in your mail. Cancel your newspaper. Hire a cat sitter or bring dog to the kennel. Plan ahead and ask your neighbour several weeks in advance because they may be planning a trip the same time that you are. The list may include shopping for gifts. If you are going to stay with someone, it is nice to bring them a little something. Take time to buy a thank you card to include with the gift.

Then make a list of things you will need to pack. My list always consists of 2 columns. One is for the clothes that I need to bring. The other is things that I need to bring – camera, toiletries, magazines, passports etc. I start with the basics: underwear, socks etc. then t-shirts, shorts, bathing suit, sweaters, jeans. Wear comfortable clothes to travel and ones that don’t wrinkle.

Then I focus on a dress up event (maybe a wedding, birthday, dress up evening on a cruise whatever) and I choose an outfit. Make sure it fits. Have it dry cleaned if not ready. Pick out accessories like shoes, shawl and jewelry that I will wear with it and make sure I have them ALL on my list. Nothing worse than arriving and realizing you didn’t back those black heels and you will need to wear your casual sandals or buy shoes.

Pack in terms of outfits rather than packing a bunch of separates because that way you have options; depending on the weather or the dressiness of the occasion and your mood. When I choose tops I make sure they can be worn with most of my bottoms. To make this easier I try and stick to a main colour scheme. I have pink, white and black tops and I have jeans, a jean skirt and khaki pants for bottoms. I can mix and match and have many different choices rather than being limited. I have learned the hard way when I had a suitcase full of things but really nothing to wear or nothing I wanted to wear. Don’t pack too much. If you are going for two or three weeks you really only need to pack for one week. You can always wash clothes even if you are camping!

Then I do a trial run pack and make sure everything fits and I weigh my suitcase (if I am flying) to make sure it’s not more than the allotted 50 lbs. Leave some room for things you may want to purchase on your trip. Always take an extra bag or knapsack that you can carry if things don’t fit in your suitcase when you come back home.

I pack my carry-on and make sure I don’t have anything I am not supposed to (like a water bottle or large hand creams etc.) I make sure I have my passport, other identification, tissues and money. Also it’s a good idea to have a magazine or book to read while waiting for a flight and/or on the plane. Always good to have a sweater or a sweatshirt handy especially if travelling by train or plane because these tend to be over air-conditioned in the summer.

Bon Voyage