Travel Preparation Rituals or How Crazy Do You Get

I got up this morning, grabbed a Diet Cherry Coke, started up the computer and went to my white board by the back door to change the countdown from 8 to 7.  My day can’t get started until I change the countdown number.  I actually have a couple going right now.  The first is for my trip to Miami next week to tour the Majesty of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas.  The next one is for our cruise on the Caribbean Princess.  The last one (displayed in a set of Mickey ears) is for our one day at Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival where we will get to see some friends.  I get so excited for all of the trips and having the countdown helps.  If you ask me about my upcoming trip close to the travel date, I’ll probably say something like “only 5 1/2 days left!”.

Some people do countdown chains.  This is especially fun when someone who has never been where you are going is coming with.  I have heard of friends putting fun facts inside of the links on the chain for each day.  One time I emailed the friend I was going to visit a photo representing the number of days left.  This was either a picture of the number itself or a group of things totaling the number.

Another fun game we played once was going to Wikipedia and typing in the number of days and then preparing a list of what that number means.  For instance with the number seven:

  • the fourth prime number
  • a seven-sided shape is a heptagon
  • the Seven Kings of Rome
  • 7UP
  • James Bond was agent 007
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Sevens is a card game
  • the number of notes in the traditional Western Major Scale (music)
  • maximum number of games in a playoff series for NHL, MLB and NBA

You get the picture.  Now I can officially start my day.  I got to the computer and start up Outlook and Facebook (of course!).  Then I open a new tab and check out the weather for my trip.  I pull out my little chart.  On one side I have the first date I check (today) followed by all the dates between now and when I leave.  On the top I have the dates of the trip.  So for today I have the information for the first three days of my trip.  Looks like rain when I leave Milwaukee and scattered thunderstorms in Fort Myers and Miami with highs in the upper 80s to low 90s.

Time to get to work.  I grab a notepad I was using last night.  Oh look, it’s my packing list!  I have figured out what outfits I will wear and what extras I need to bring.  I always do a packing list and revise it a number of times before I go.  I started working on this last weekend.  Since there are work events I have to attend, I’ll have to make sure I have enough business casual clothes with me.  Oh shoot!  I just realized I have one more day at the meetings than I originally thought.  Now I have to come up with another outfit and space in my luggage.  I’m trying to get by with just carry on luggage this time.

After working for a few hours I go upstairs to grab something and spy my packing pile!  Since our two trips are so close together, I have two piles going in the guest bedroom.  No clothes have been pulled out yet, but all the extras.  For a cruise we pack a lot more like extension cords, over the door shoe holder, portable alarm clock, etc.  Since we cruise often we have a set of things reserved for the cruise.  Normally packed away in the closet, I pull this stuff out usually a month or so ahead of packing, depending on company staying at our house (since it is technically in the guest bedroom).  Once before I made a mistake with trips so close together that I forgot toothbrushes when I switched things over.  This time I decided to simply take all I needed from the cruise packing and put it in a separate container for my Miami trip and when I get home all of it will go back with the cruise packing.  As we get closer to the travel date, clothes will be laid out on the bed in this room, stuff that needs to be ironed will be hung on the ironing board and pieces of luggage will appear from the attic.

In addition to the packing pile, I also keep a folder for each trip.  Important documents, confirmations, tickets, etc are placed in this folder.  For Miami, I have my passport, flight information, itinerary for the program, car rental confirmation.

Some people will have a trial run of packing.  I have only done this once or twice in the past as usually when the stuff goes into the suitcase, it doesn’t come back out.  For longer trips we have laid out our clothes much further in advance but then realized we still needed the clothes just to get us to the vacation.  When that happened, we started a “check out list”.  If you pulled something from the packing pile, you wrote it on the list.  If you brought it back, you removed it from the list.  This way when the final packing was done, all of the items missing were easy to figure out.

Some people also take great pride in planning all the events of vacation.  I’m not quite that regimented for myself though.  They have spreadsheets that are color coded with which Disney Park they will visit, park hours, show times, dining reservations, etc.

Others have started a trend to answer those who say “bring me with you” and have created “flatties” to take along.  This is similar to the Flat Stanley you may have heard about.  You take a paper doll pattern and a picture of your friend and make a personalized paper doll friend.  Some are very creative with this and have made outfits for their friends, changing their clothes often to match certain events.  The friend then travels with them and is featured in various pictures throughout the journey.  I was once a flattie, but my friends lost me in a limo somewhere between Disney World and Port Canaveral.  I don’t think I ever surfaced.

Now it’s your turn!  What kind of rituals do you have when traveling?  How do you get excited about the trip?

One response to this post.

  1. I look at the calendar, say “OH %$#&!! WE’RE LEAVING TOMORROW??!!” Speaking of which, we really are heading to Disney World tomorrow and I don’t have anything ready. Gotta pack.


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