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Thread: Fabulously Organized Family Travel Tips

  1. #1
    Yeah, I'm getting to it.. Zippity's Avatar
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    Default Fabulously Organized Family Travel Tips



    Share your best travel tips here!
    "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

    - Leonardo Da Vinci

    "I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart."

    - Vincent Van Gogh


  2. #2
    Stealth Dog mommymath's Avatar
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    Tips for overseas --

    For Europe, we are huge fans of the Rick Steves' series of travel books. His tips for beating lines and avoiding scams always make the books WELL worth the price. www.ricksteves.com -- there are great packing tips and information forums at that site, too.

    General packing tips -- odd things I like to have (for overseas travel -- especially in non-English speaking countries) -- this is besides the obvious stuff like voltage adapters, phrase books, etc.
    * an immersion heater, a small stainless steel thermos bowl, and instant cereal -- that way, no matter where you end up, at any time, you can have a bowl of hot cereal -- this is crucial for when my ds is hungry and we land in a different country; you can also take a small travel french press and coffee; in the UK there are usually hot water making things in most hotel rooms, so you might not need the immersion heater.
    * a small roll of tear-by-hand packing tape. very, very handy.
    * noise cancelling headphones, worth the price to screen out loud talkers and crying babies on long flights -- these really are crucial for my ds and he can then tune out anything
    * inflatable hangers -- take up almost NO space and since they are puffy, they give clothing a little more breathing room when drying
    * travel clothesline
    * a small screwdriver -- good for changing batteries in kids' stuff; and I'm a geek so I like having one in general -- note that it will almost certainly get confiscated at security if you fly out of Germany; 50-50 chance in Italy, from my experience
    * small pair of scissors, the teeniest you can find, same chances of confiscation in Germany/Italy
    * OTC stuff -- you don't want to waste time looking for pepto, pepcid, claritin, etc. And the regulations and availability differ from country to country. In Italy, for example, you can't really find ibuprofen just lying around at the newsstands.
    * empty ziplock bags -- just tuck a bunch in
    * travel pack of antibacterial clorox wipes -- if your hotel is grody, you'll want them for the bathroom
    * small fleece travel blanket -- I have a cheap one from Target small enough to tuck into the outer part of a roll-aboard pilot's case -- very useful for airplanes (the ones that are on planes are totally filthy -- I've heard that they don't launder them between people -- and sometimes just put them back into the plastic bags). Some European airlines have banned pillows and blankets in economy due to swine flu restrictions.
    * any stuffed animals that travel (usually just THE BEAR) wear a shirt or a tag which has our name, address, phone number, email, and "reward for return" ironed on -- I use iron-on label tape in my dymo label maker. If the animal has a tag, you can put your phone number onto that. I've also tagged our electronics. I once had a digital camera returned to me that had fallen out on an airplane!
    * money belt. read Rick's info on money belts. Absolutely crucial.

    Oh, and packing cubes. I'm a huge fan of those. Worth a one-time investment. I personally like the flatter ones from Eagle Creek (you can find them at REI-type stores and The Container Store). There are also some through the Rick Steves' website.
    Last edited by mommymath; 06-13-2009 at 06:37 PM.
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  3. #3
    Yeah, I'm getting to it.. Zippity's Avatar
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    I'll second the Rick Steve's stuff. His luggage, by the way, is simple and straightforward, cheaper than nearly anything on the market, and super-durable. My sister has been carrying her Rick Steves pack around for 20 years. My mom owns two of his roll-aboards and one of his packs and has never had anything go wrong with any of it. (In that same time, she's had to send several other suitcases off for repair.)

    MM, your tip for charging the Nintendo DS overseas will save my life, whenever we end up finally taking that trip!

    My carryon or purse always has a "necessary" kit. It's a little ziptop bag I got from the Target dollar bin. A few of these items need to go in the Ziploc Bag for airline travel. But I always have this little bag--anywhere I go, pretty much. It's really amazing what that little thing holds.

    --tube of ibuprofen
    --children's tylenol
    --eyeglasses repair kit
    --eyeglass cleaning cloth
    --one or two feminine pads (these can be used to stop bleeding in case of injury, as well...)
    --a couple bandaids and a couple of antibacterial hand wipes
    --a little bottle of hand sanitizer (I take this out and put it in the ziploc for airline when I remember, but they've never stopped me when I forget.)
    --nail file
    --rolll of tums
    --a couple of imodium
    --my rescue inhaler
    --"blister block" stick
    --tiny eyedrop bottle of contact moisture drops (another I take out when I remember)
    --a few decongestant pills
    --a few of whatever's been needed lately--at the moment, that's Ricola cough drops
    --"tide to go" stick
    --lip balm

    "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

    - Leonardo Da Vinci

    "I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart."

    - Vincent Van Gogh


  4. #4
    Yeah, I'm getting to it.. Zippity's Avatar
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    One of the most important aspects of organized travel, for me, is the packing list.

    I keep my packing lists in Word. Whenever we plan a trip, I pull up the appropriate packing list. If I don't have one for a particular destination, then I pull up the most appropriate list to edit, so I don't have to start from scratch.

    The lists are named in my files by destination: Hawaii Packing List, San Diego Packing List, Alaska Packing List.

    I subtitle all of my lists with any pertinent circumstances--like "carryon only" or "in-room laundry" or "car trip."

    Things I consider when I make my lists:
    1. Weather, and how much time we will spend out "in it."
    2. What are my laundry facilities?
    3. Am I staying with a person/family, in a hotel, or a condo, and for how long?
    4. Does it make sense to purchase some of what I will need at my destination?
    5. What specific activities do I need to plan for?

    Printing an extra copy of the packing list and popping it into a suitcase helps me remember everything when we pack to come home.

    I always revisit the packing list after a trip. It's been super-helpful in paring down what I take. Then I save my "revised" list for the next possible trip.
    "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

    - Leonardo Da Vinci

    "I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart."

    - Vincent Van Gogh


  5. #5
    OMGOMGOMG!! Scarletwing's Avatar
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    I too am a fan of packing lists on computer. I have several that are used, but I do need to update.

    I'm not familiar with Rick Steve. Thinking a trip to the library is in order!

    I also look at:

    1. What will I be doing when I get to my destination? Will it require a change of clothes?
    2. How much room do I need for purchases made there? How will I get them home?
    3. How am I traveling? Airline travel is different from vehicle.
    Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits. ~Author Unknown

  6. #6
    Yeah, I'm getting to it.. Zippity's Avatar
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    Ah, yes! The shopping factor!

    Years ago I spent about $14 at Target on a big lightweight duffel bag. It's lightweight, cheap but reasonably sturdy, and collapses flat. It lives in the front pocket of DH's suitcase when we travel.

    Every time we come back from Maui, we have that thing packed full. It's still in good shape, but if it gets trashed it's not a big loss.
    "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

    - Leonardo Da Vinci

    "I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart."

    - Vincent Van Gogh


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    Administrator rskmom's Avatar
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    I always try to throw a few plastic grocery bags and a few zip top bags in my suitcase - they have come in handy many times! Wet swim suits, packing material for breakables, etc.

  8. #8
    Administrator rskmom's Avatar
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    I ran across this article today while looking for something else:

    http://www.mommysideabook.com/page/k...orget-to-take/

  9. #9
    Yeah, I'm getting to it.. Zippity's Avatar
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    Good article, rsk--all those items are on my list, I think...Here's an example of one of my packing lists in progress.

    I'm putting up the version that's been edited about 10 times...


    Checked Bag 1 and 2: Kids’ Rolling Duffels


    A R Shorts-1 (Checking weather, may ditch these entirely.)
    A R Jeans—2
    A R Long Pants-1
    A R Dinner pants—1
    A R Underwear-4
    A R Socks—4
    A R Short Sleeve Tees-2
    A R Long Sleeve Tees--2
    A R Dinner Shirts w/collar—2
    A R Swimsuit-1
    A R Pajamas-1
    R Underjams--12
    A R Stocking cap
    A R Gloves
    A R Zippered Sweatshirt w/hood
    A R Fleece Jacket
    A R Rain Jacket w/hood
    A R Baseball Cap
    A R Swim Goggles
    A R Sandals (pack)
    A R Tennis Shoes


    Toiletries: Boys
    A R Toothbrush

    A R Toothpaste
    A R Deodorant
    A R Floss
    A R Shampoo

    R Bar of Dove
    S Mineral only sunscreen
    S Spray on sunscreen
    S Insect Repellent
    Checked Bag 3: DH Medium Rolling Suitcase
    Shorts—2 (check weather)

    Dinner pants—1
    Jeans/Long Pants--2
    Underwear—2
    Socks--3
    Short SleeveTees—3
    Long Sleeve Tee--1
    Dinner shirts—2
    Swimsuit—1
    Pajamas-1
    Stocking Cap
    Gloves
    Fleece Jacket
    Rain Jacket w/hood
    Baseball Cap
    Sandals
    Tennis Shoes
    Dinner Shoes
    Spare Duffel Bag
    Luggage Scale


    Toiletries--DH
    Deodorant

    Toothpaste
    Sonicare and Stand
    Antifungal Cream
    Razor and cord
    Baby powder
    Sunscreen
    Insect Repellent
    Chap Stick

    Checked Bag 4: Me Medium Rolling Suitcase
    Capris--2

    Jeans/Long Pants--3
    Bottoms for dinner—2
    Underwear--3
    Bras--3
    Socks--3
    Pajamas-1
    Daytime Tops—4
    Tops for dinner--3
    Workout clothes—1 set
    Swimsuit—1
    Gloves
    Scarf
    Swimsuit coverup
    Sweatshirt
    Fleece Jacket
    Rain Jacket w/hood
    Athletic shoes
    Pool Shoes
    Dinner shoes
    Camera Monopod
    Dinner Purse
    Chargers: Cell Phone, MP3
    Toiletries--Me
    Shampoo--solid

    Conditioner--solid
    Sunscreen—Face Only
    Toothbrush
    Toothpaste
    Floss
    Hairbrushes: flat and round
    Deodorant
    Hairspray
    Hair Clips/Hair band
    Tweezers
    manicure scissors and file
    Purple Nail Polish
    Cloth for glasses
    Makeup kit—coverup, powder foundation, eye shadow, brushes, mascara, lipstick, lip balm, makeup sponges
    Razor
    Contacts and case
    Saline
    Spare contacts
    Fem. Hyg.
    Poise
    Spray Sunscreen
    Laundry Kit:
    Oxyclean Spray

    Stain Stick--purchase in Anchorage
    Free/Clear Detergent--purchase in Anchorage
    Mini Woolite
    Fabric softener sheets
    Color Catcher sheets
    Inflatable hangers
    Small packet Clorox Wipes--purchase in Anchorage
    Lint Roller
    First Aid/Medication Kit:
    Imodium Advanced

    Ibuprofen
    Prilosec/Zantac
    Cortizone
    Children’s Tylenol
    Benadryl
    Tiny first aid kit
    Skeeter Sticks
    Boys: Backpacks
    A R Nintendo DS, Games

    A R Nintendo DS Charger
    A R Hand wipes
    A R Notebook and Colored Pencils
    A R Book
    A R Sunglasses
    A R MP3 player, charger and headphones
    A DVD Player and charger
    A DVD’s
    A Video Camera, Waterproof Case
    R Camera and cable, spare batteries
    A Nose Plug
    Me: Rolling Carryon and Camera Bag
    Camera Bag:

    Camera
    Short Lens
    80-200 Lens
    70-300 Lens (Rental)
    Wide Angle Lens (Rental)
    Spare battery
    Battery Charger
    Spare SD Cards—4
    Ball Head and Quick Release Clamp
    Lens Cleaning stuff
    Roll-Aboard:
    Itinerary /Confirmations
    Passports—Me, A, R, S
    DS12’s meds
    My meds
    Laptop and power cable
    Mini notebook and pen, pencil
    Sunglasses and strap
    MP3 Player
    Book
    Travel First Aid Kit
    Jewelry
    Fold Up Totebags
    Canadian Money

    Quart Ziploc:
    Hand wipes
    Hand Sanitizer
    Nasal Spray
    Eye Drops
    Tide-To-Go

    Necessary Kit:
    Lip Balm
    Mini Hairbrush
    Kleenex
    Children’s Tylenol
    Ibuprofen
    Pad
    Mirror
    Sudafed
    Imodium

    Small Purse (in rollaboard):
    Cell phone
    Wallet (ID, Debit, Credit, Insurance, AAA, Cash)
    Keys (housekey only)
    Inhaler
    Notebook/Pen

    DH's Carry-On: Backpack
    Laptop and power cable, mouse

    Image Stabilizing Binoculars
    Sunglasses
    Cell phone
    Sm. Camera and batt charger
    Book
    Noise Cancelling Headset



    Last edited by Zippity; 08-15-2009 at 01:56 PM.
    "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

    - Leonardo Da Vinci

    "I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart."

    - Vincent Van Gogh


  10. #10
    Yeah, I'm getting to it.. Zippity's Avatar
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    The air-travel world has been an interesting place lately.

    For most airlines now it is the norm to charge an exorbitant amount for checked baggage, even the first checked bag. That's been the case for the last couple of years, but many people compensated by carrying on more luggage. That's created its own set of issues...

    In the wake of the Christmas Day terrorism and the horrible security backups caused by excessive amounts of carryon luggage in the midst of a high security alert, Canada moved to an "essential items only" carry on policy. Basically, they'd let you carry on a laptop, camera, small purse (I don't know what constitutes small), medical equipment, medication, a diaper bag, and very little else. Whether this is short term or longer still remains to be seen. There is talk on one-bag travel sites that this sort of policy will actually become more prevalent and not less. Most carryon restrictions overseas are already more restrictive than what we see here right now. I suppose we'll see how this plays out.

    When I travelled to Tucson recently, I did so with one checked bag and one carryon. The checked bag charge was $25, each way. (US Airways, by the way.) The combination of that high charge and their low advertised fares led to one of the biggest zoos at the boarding gate that I have seen in recent years. People were trying to get on board with everything but a live chicken. It was awful, crowded, and terribly time consuming. How those boarding gate agents didn't just strangle someone, I will never know.

    Once I did get on that flight, by the way, overhead space was FULL. I had to cram my one carryon under the seat in front of me, meaning that I could not move my feet for three hours. (My right knee hurt so badly by the time I got off that I wanted to cry.)

    Some thoughts:

    --I found out on my last trip that some airlines will give passengers who use online check-in a preferential boarding group, regardless of where they are sitting. If you would have been boarding in group 4, online check-in will give you group 3. Nice, if you need a place to put your carryon.

    --Streamline, streamline, streamline. It has never been more important to pack efficiently than it is now. Declutter your packing list. You are paying--one way or another--for every single item you take.

    --If you DO carry on luggage, you may be forced by lack of space to gate-check it or stuff it under your seat, or both. It's worth thinking this possibility through before you get on a plane, and packing in such a way that you *could* potentially gate check something without doing a repack in the middle of the waiting area. (I watched an eye-opening scene in which the gate agents made a woman's ginormous and un-closable hand-carry "gate-checkable" with a roll of packing tape. You do not want this to be you. There was a lot of un-repeatable spanish flying there.)

    --Accept luggage charges as part of your airfare. When searching out bargain airfares, do the research on the luggage charges as well. Even if you believe you will be hand-carrying your luggage, you may not be left with a choice about checking bags.

    --Consider renting items, or even purchasing them at your destination.

    --Consider your shipping options. I often will rent lenses for my camera when we travel. (Vacation is a good time for me to really "play" with my camera.) Turns out, I can ship these lenses to a UPS store that's about a mile from the condo where we stay in Hawaii. I have the lenses fewer days, and thus pay less, and it's less to pack. Scuba divers will often use a flat-rate box to ship their dive weights to their destination.


    "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

    - Leonardo Da Vinci

    "I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart."

    - Vincent Van Gogh


  11. #11
    Yeah, I'm getting to it.. Zippity's Avatar
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    The Joys of Storage

    We go to the same destination every year, or rather, we have for the last 8 years or so. This year, we did something that will change the way we pack for this trip--we got a storage unit.

    It's not a lot of storage--roughly 4 feet in any direction, but it holds a surprising amount of stuff. There are 8 of us sharing this space, and we've offered to share the space with a couple other families that we know well that also go over to Maui every year. The roughly $20 per month in costs are well spread out.

    We went to Home Depot and spent a few bucks on a quality lock, and a few more on some sturdy plastic containers. For the first time ever, I came home with *less* luggage than I went over with, including the shopping I did.

    Stuff we left:
    --the boogie boards. We don't boogie board here. The water is cold. We usually end up purchasing a cheap, new board every time. This time we bought two nicer ones at Costco and they'll be there next year waiting for us.

    --toiletries. Big bottle of Costco shampoo, kids' toothpaste, bottle of hairspray...the list goes on and on. We left pretty much everything we could that won't go bad/spoil by next year. Toiletries are heavy--this should be nice for the packing.

    --clothing and shoes that I only use in Hawaii. Flip flops, sarongs, the beachy "basket" purse that I got at the craft fair in Maui and is a huge pain to pack...most of this stuff comes home every year and gets packed away until it's time to go again. Not a lot of "sized" clothing, as we all fluctuate a bit and the kids are still growing.

    --Kitchen and laundry supplies. We used to have to throw stuff out/give stuff away every year.

    --Pool toys, beach mats, towels. Again, we either packed it or gave it away at the end of every trip. Now they live over there.

    --Other odds and ends. Reusable grocery totes and mesh beach bags (Maui will have outlawed plastic bags completely by next year, but we try not to use them anyhow.)
    "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

    - Leonardo Da Vinci

    "I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart."

    - Vincent Van Gogh


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