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Getting Organized

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A little organization goes a long way when preparing for a trip or vacation. Use these tips and suggestions to make the process easier and less stressful.

  • Use plastic zipper bags to make toiletry kits for each member of the family. Include travel-size shampoos, sunscreen, lotion and other items.
  • Assemble your first-aid kit.
  • Make a miniature travel sewing kit by placing threaded needles, extra buttons, safety pins and a measuring tape inside a matchbox covered with decorative adhesive paper or in a plain film canister. Be sure to store this in your checked luggage, rather than your carryon, as needles may be confiscated at airport security checks.
  • Make lists before packing and check off the items as they are packed to help avoid leaving behind necessities. Make your own list, or use lists found in travel magazines or on travel Web sites.
  • Take along a home-comfort kit, complete with a night light, travel alarm clock and flashlight.
  • Never pack valuables such as travel documents, eyeglasses, money or credit cards in a suitcase that may be misplaced. Create a travel portfolio for carrying travel documents. Keep the whole thing in a plastic portfolio folder.
  • Go through your wallet and remove items that will not be used on vacation such as department-store charge cards, library cards and Social Security cards.
  • Keep an emergency contact card in your wallet when you travel, and make a copy to give to your spouse or partner. Include the following information:
    • name and phone number of an emergency contact
    • numbers of credit cards you're taking on vacation, along with a phone number to contact the card issuer in case of loss or theft
    • travel agent's phone number
    • numbers for family doctors and/or pediatricians and dentist
    • medical and auto-insurance information
  • Prepare a list of tasks that should be completed before leaving town. This can be a list of phone numbers that include pet care, newspaper subscription, friends to housesit and other numbers that help arrange everything before you go.
  • Write a packing list. This is a list of all the things you will need to pack for the journey. Be sure to include items such as plane tickets, a camera or other things that could easily be forgotten.
  • Develop a list of home operating instructions. This is a list of steps that need to be made inside the house to ensure that it is secure before departing. Ideal for a housesitter, this list describes how the house works (how to set the alarm, when the garbage is picked up, when to feed the dog, etc.)
  • Don’t forget to prepare instructions for your housesitter. Include more detailed information in this list, such as where you are going, when you will be back, how you can be reached, etc.
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