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You are here: Home > Organizing Advice > Travel > Planning Now Results in a Stress-Free Vacation
Planning Now Results in a Stress-Free Vacation

by Dawn McCloskey, Ultra Organized, LLC

School is almost out – are you planning a summer vacation?   Professional Organizer, Dawn McCloskey, offers the following suggestions to reduce stress during a time when your goal is to create happy memories for the entire family.

By creating a central notebook to hold everything from travel arrangements to places you want to visit, you alleviate the need to remember where everything is and what needs to be done.  In addition, you can tweak the “to do” lists and have everything readily available whenever you travel.  

Divide the notebook into sections:

“To Do” – Before You Leave
Create a “to do” list of tasks that need to be completed before the day of departure.  Some of the tasks may include:
  • Place a hold on mail delivery
  • Stop the newspaper
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to watch your home
  • Arrange for pet care (make sure your pet’s immunizations are up-to-date)
  • Refill prescriptions
  • Photo copy contents of wallet – credit cards and driver’s license in case of loss (keep in separate location)
  • Pay bills
  • Turn off/unplug:  outside water faucets, washing machine water faucets, televisions, computers and other small appliances
  • Set timers on lights
  • Empty trash cans
  • Clear refrigerator of any food that may spoil during your absence
  • Go to bank for cash or traveler’s checks

Instructions – House and/or Pet-Sitters
Include the following documents that you can give to house and/or pet-sitters
  • Travel itinerary
  • House keys
  • Emergency contact list of neighbors, relatives and yourself
  • If boarding a pet – pet’s health record which includes veterinarian’s contact information
“To Take” – Documents You Should Take on Vacation
  • Insert sheet protectors to hold the following documents:
  • Travel reservations/confirmations
  • Travel itinerary of places you want to visit
  • Passport
  • Membership cards for AAA and car rentals
  • Contact information for travel agents, airlines, and rental car agencies
  • Guide books
“To Pack”
Create a list of items you want to pack (detailed lists are available on the internet).  Carry a copy with you in the event there is a problem with your luggage during your travels.  To simplify the problem of “what to wear”, use zipper food storage bags to pack an entire outfit for a single day.  To condense clothing even more, use Space Saver Travel Bags (available in local retail stores).  Once clothing is worn, dirty clothing can be placed in the bags.  Using storage bags can cut down the number of suitcases needed for the entire family, not to mention organize the suitcases.

Taking a carry-on bag will alleviate some stress if your luggage is delayed for any reason.  Include medications, prescriptive glasses if not being worn, camera, jewelry, snacks, a change of clothes, reading material, and anything else you might want close-at-hand.

This is a condensed list of items to include in a travel notebook; more detailed lists are available on the internet.  The most important thing about beginning a stress-free vacation is to use lists.  Put down on paper everything you think of to free your mind for the “bigger stuff” – having fun.

Copyright © 2009 Dawn McCloskey

Dawn McCloskey is a residential professional organizer and founder of Ultra Organized, LLC in Cumming, Georgia.  The mission of Ultra Organized is to create order from chaos by creating customized solutions in people’s homes.  Ultra Organized helps people get control of clutter in their existing homes or before listing a house with a realtor, and provides unpacking and organizing services to new home owners.  McCloskey is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.  For more information, call 770-844-1049, email or visit

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