Simplify Your Vacation To-Do List

Vacation is a time to relax. But preparing for a vacation can be stressful to the extreme. That's why it's important to make a simple, straightforward to-do list. With a little planning, you and your family can enjoy a stress-free getaway to the fullest.

Vacation Packing list bigPhoto by: Shutterstock

1. Plan ahead



How many times have you been happily chugging down the road only to realize you forgot your toothbrush? Or that you’ve left clothes in the washer? Avoid these mistakes by planning ahead. About a week before departure, list all the things you need to get done before you leave (finishing up laundry, scheduling appliance repair, making boarding appointments for your pets).

Make a second list the night before departure. Write reminders to pack items you may be still using down to the wire (razors, toothbrushes, shampoo) as well as reminders for last-minute tasks (unplugging your alarm clock). Read over your list right before you leave!

2. Stock up on travel-size



If you really want to make sure your toiletries are always accounted for, stock up on several travel-size containers of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and whatever other hygiene items your family uses regularly. This way, you can leave toiletries off your packing list entirely by permanently stowing them away in your luggage. If you’re looking to save space, try double-duty toiletries—if you can find a combination shampoo/conditioner or a moisturizer that doubles as sunscreen, pack it up!

3. Stay neutral



Packing outfits for your whole family can get exhausting, and all those clothes can take up a lot of much-needed packing space. Make your list a little shorter by selecting several neutral pieces to use as the basis for your vacation wardrobe. Despite the temptation to spice up your wardrobe for vacation, pack the clothes you love to wear normally—they’re the ones you’ll end up wearing anyway. And remember to prepare for the weather!

4. Categorize



Especially if you’re taking a family trip, a packing list can be dauntingly large. Make it more manageable by creating individual categories. Tackle your categories one at a time and you’ll be surprised by how much shorter your list seems.

Not sure what categories to use? Keep them broad: think clothing, toiletries, and travel essentials like passports and boarding passes.

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