Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to Pack for a Stress-free Holiday Vacation

It's vacation day. You've waited for this moment with anticipation. You've packed. You have your itinerary in hand and your camera at the ready.

And then you wait.

Sitting in a car or plane for hours makes traveling the worst part of travel. By being prepared for the long road ahead, you can put yourself in a better mindset to enjoy the sights when you arrive.

Here's how to pack for success:

Coordinate Your Wardrobe

"Pack less. You don't need half of what you bring," said Ginny Lyons, a Registered Nurse at Catholic Health.

When stuffing your suitcase, you don't need to give yourself several clothing options for one day. Choose what you'll be wearing beforehand and stick the second and third choices back in the closet.

To minimize your clothing needs, choose a color palette. Bring black or brown shoes, not both, and a sweater or jacket that can be worn with each outfit. For example, you might bring navy and green tops that can be worn both with your blue jeans and your black dress pants. Black flats will coordinate with both.

Anticipate re-wearing some outfits, or parts of outfits, and avoid wearing those clothes into restaurants, unless you're planning to do laundry while you vacation.

Bring Healthy Snacks

If you're traveling by car, you're bound to get hungry, and stopping at the nearest gas station can put a serious dent in your arrival time. This year, my husband and I managed to turn a 7-hour drive to Washington, DC into a 9-hour one, with just a few stops at the gas station. The M&Ms weren't worth it.

Fill a cooler with water and healthy snacks, such as:
  • String cheese
  • Grapes
  • Kashi granola bars
  • Celery sticks (add peanut butter and store in a ziplock bag)
  • Baby carrots and hummus
  • Peanuts
  • Raisins
  • Apple chips
  • Homemade potato chips
Plan to pack your foods at least a day in advance. If you wait until the day-of, food prep will seem like one more barrier between you and your destination.

Make a Plan

"A little extra time spent in preparation can be the catalyst to a safe, healthy, and stress-free way to travel, either by plane or car," said Lyons.

Follow this checklist to keep yourself on task.

Two or Three Days Before Departure

  • Plan and buy road trip snacks
  • Buy travel shampoos and body wash
  • Borrow audiobooks from the library

Day Before Departure

  • Fill the car tank with gas, if traveling by car
  • Set your GPS
  • Charge your eReader
  • Download a few books from the library (you need a wi-fi connection)
  • Stock your iPod or mp3 player with podcasts
  • Rent DVDs to play on your laptop in the car

Packing Checklist

Use this checklist to make sure that you don't forget any items before you leave:
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Day clothes
  • Jacket
  • Hair dryer
  • Makeup
  • Facial cleanser
  • Facial moisturizer
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Comb / brush
  • Hairspray
  • Travel shampoos and body wash
  • Razor
  • eReader or books
  • Book light
  • Laptop and DVDs or iPad; bring a power inverter to keep your laptop charged in the car
  • Headphones
  • Audiobooks
  • MP3 player
  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • Camera
  • Medications
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pre-moistened wipes

For Car Travel

  • Pre-set GPS (if traveling by car)
  • Scrapers to clean the windows
  • Extra blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares
If your visiting family and friends, you might also bring presents to exchange on Christmas Day.

Is there anything that you would add to the list?

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