Archive for the ‘Packing’ Category

Safety On The Road

In light of the Boston Marathon bombing last week, it was suggested to me to do a segment on safety while traveling.  Your safety while traveling also relates back to preparing to be safe before you leave home.  We’ll go over a few things to consider.

Let’s start with social media.  Do you share your posts with friends, friends of friends or everyone?  Be very careful when sharing your traveling plans on a social media site.  It’s definitely better if you have someone housesitting or neighbors watching your home, but think twice about who you share with before you let the world know that you will be out of town, maybe out of the country for a set period of time.

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Vacations – Time to De-stress or is it?

We all work hard.  Some of us put in well over 40 hours a week.  Then we get home and there is more work o do – yard work, house work, laundry, cooking, taking care of the kids, running errands.  Calgon, take me away!!

When it comes to vacations, we all need them, not just want them.  Some of us want to “unplug” for a while and just relax with the family.  Some can’t seem to get away from it all, but at least getting away from home helps to rejuvenate them.

The problems with vacations are the stress leading up to them and after you return home.  The key is to find a way to cut down that stress.  I have found a few.

First, to avoid the stress when you come home, I try to make sure most of the work part is out of the way.  I leave the house cleaned and clothes laundered.  I don’t put off my work that would normally come due during vacation until I return, I take care of it before leaving.  That way, there is less that must get done as soon as I return.

To help prepare for the vacation, I have some lists to help out.  I plan ahead for meals so we don’t have too much in the refrigerator while we are gone.  I have a packing list, depending on the type of vacation, which can be modified to fit the exact trip.  I also start working on getting ready as far in advance as I can.  I have found with work, if I do my follow up with clients a week before hand, they usually have questions or come up with thinks that need to be done in a day or two after they get my email.  If I wait until the day before I leave, this makes the first few days of vacation very stressful.

This is where a travel consultant can come in handy.  I answer a lot of last minute questions for my clients.  Things they don’t know or plans they want to change last minute.  This is just a little bit of stress I am able to take away from their plans.  The most stressful time I have ever had traveling is going somewhere for the first time, like a cruise.  As much research as you can do just doesn’t seem to totally prepare you for a new experience.  I also find that some people deal with vacations and stress situations different than others.  Let’s just call them “high-maintenance” type folks.  Somehow, nothing is ever just right for them.  Unfortunately, when you read discussion forums online, there is a lot of that.  People are more likely to complain about things online than they are to complement online.  Additionally, many people think that their way is the only way something can be done.  A great travel consultant should know many ways that something can be done.  For example, when are passports required.  This can be a hot topic on discussion forum.  A travel consultant can sort out for you what the requirements actually are versus what is recommended.

Finally, the last stress you can face with vacation is the vacation itself.  Are you going with a large group?  If so, you will want to remember that it is important everyone should not do everything together.  Can they?  Of course, but it will increase everyone’s stress level and take more time with coordinating what everyone wants to do, waiting on everyone to be ready.  What about the vacation destination?  Will that cause extra stress?  If you end up with a very regimented vacation when you need something laid back, that could lead to more stress than before vacation.  This is why I enjoy cruising so much.  I can do as much or as little as I want, yet go from place to place.  Staying in a hotel would do the same for me, except I wouldn’t have the option of seeing a tropical island in the Caribbean or a glacier in Alaska.

Next time you prepare for a vacation, consider what you are trying to get out of the vacation.  Pick the vacation that will give you the experience you need and take steps to allow yourself to relax and enjoy when you get there.

Pretrip Anxiety

I swear it happens every time I am going away, even for just a day!  I think about what won’t get done while I’m gone, what must be done before I go, not to mention packing and getting ready!  So how do you deal with it?

The first thing is to prioritize.  Of course you have to pack.  I cruised once with a tablemate that didn’t have time to pack.  She thought she would have time to stop and pick up a few things on the way, but that didn’t happen.  She didn’t even have a toothbrush with her!  You obviously can’t leave out the time to pack, but getting a good list for packing is very important.  In general, people bring way too many things when they go on vacation.  I have gotten much better at this, usually only bringing home one or two items that didn’t get worn.  I try to pack a weekend beforehand and then reevaluate what was packed to be sure I will wear it.  I may end up pulling a few things out then.  With cruises, I evaluate how many times in the past I have used something (over the door shoe holder, binoculars, etc.) to see if I think I should keep it on my list or not.  I also look at the trip I will be on and how it will differ from others in the past.  For example, on my next cruise it will be a three night cruise.  We usually bring an over the door shoe holder, but I will not for this one since my husband isn’t going.

Next priority needs to be things that absolutely must be done before you go – stopping the mail, petsitters, verifying time off of work, paying bills that will come due while you are gone, things that if you don’t take care of them, you may not be going anywhere.  These are a high priority.

There are things that you would like to get done, but really aren’t a priority.  I don’t like coming home to a dirty house, so I like to clean before I go.  This, however, isn’t a must.  If something has to wait, the house will.  I will make sure dishes are clean, garbage is out, etc., but dusting, vacuuming, etc. can all wait.  Same with laundry.  Washing everything before I go is preferred, but if it doesn’t happen, vacation will still go on.

Remember too that in most cases, you can pick up forgotten items at the store on your way or once you reach your destination.  There are certain things though that are critical to have.  Your money/credit cards and any required documents (birth certificates or passports for cruises, photo IDs for planes, etc.).  I start a folder before most trips with my confirmations.  As I get closer to the trip, I put my passport in there if it is needed.  I also put in my boarding passes when I print them out.  I don’t leave the house without my folder!

You definitely want to do what you can to leave for vacation less stressed and to avoid the added stress when you return home, but remember, if you can get by with leaving something unfinished that will save you some stress in getting ready to go, it is worth it.

I better get packing!

Packing Isn’t As Easy As It Seems

I’ll admit it, I travel a lot.  It comes with the territory it would seem.  So you would think that I have this packing thing down pat.  It’s isn’t however, that easy.

I do have a standard packing list for cruises and one for land vacations, but a lot of modification has to be done each time to get ready for each individual trip.  You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult, but you have to take into account the entire trip and the purpose of the trip to figure out packing.

When we are just going on a cruise, we need to determine if formal wear is needed, swimwear, warmer clothes, cooler clothes.  The basics will always be the same — toothbrush, hairbrush, etc., but clothing could easily change.  We usually bring snorkel gear on cruises.  The last three we didn’t because the weather was too cold.

For land stays, the same applies.  If we are going for a conference, we have to dress more “business casual” than going to a theme park where we are “resort casual”.  Though the differences there are a whole different blog topic!!

Next there is the purpose you are going, where you are staying and what else you may need.  When I go to Florida and will be renting a car, I bring my GPS and my SunPass.  If we are using Magical Express, that’s not needed.  Shoe consideration is also important.  When we did our Panama Canal cruise, we were zip lining and walking through mud and water so we needed close toed shoes, but ones that would dry quickly, not get all messed up and have something else to wear until they could be worn again.

How about you?  What differences do you see in packing for different trips?

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!”.

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Stressing About Packing

I’ve mentioned before that this trip we are about to take is going to be much different than any other, especially in terms of packing.  I’ve reverted to my old habit of checking the weather where we are going multiple times a day.  I don’t understand how the forecast can be so different from morning to night and then go back to what it was in the morning the next day.  I guess I can’t really rely on the weatherman, right?

The latest predictions are for sunny skies and a high of 68 when we arrive in Anaheim for the precruise stay.  The next three days though are supposed to be in the mid to upper 70s.  Ok, I better pack at least one pair of shorts and a pair of capris.  The lows will be in the mid to upper 50s so I’ll need a windbreaker, at least.  I won’t need a parka though like I do at home this morning.  It is a balmy 27 degrees outside.  Yes, that is Fahrenheit and it is the end of April.  This is so wrong.  It’s not likely my tulips and daffodils will be blooming before we leave since they are covered in snow at the moment.  We’ll be lucky if we see them at all this year.

Back to the weather…  We arrive in San Francisco on April 29 to temperatures of 63 for a high and 53 for a low (subject to change this afternoon if weather.com has their way).  We are going to Napa Valley for the day with highs expected in the low 70s.  I guess I’ll need a light jacket or sweater to go between the two areas.  It will probably be cooler in the morning anyway.  We will stay overnight in San Francisco on the ship.  I can’t wait to see the city light up at night.  We’ve never been to San Francisco so I know it will be a treat.  On Saturday, we have most of the day to explore the city (with help from a friend!) and it will be in the low 60s.  At home when we have daytime highs in the Spring like this, I would be wearing pants or shorts and a short-sleeved shirt so I imagine it will be like that out there.  Or will it?  I should have been monitoring the wind conditions too!  If it’s 60 and windy, skip the shorts!

We leave San Francisco in the afternoon and sail up towards Victoria, British Columbia.  I am looking forward to seeing the Pacific Coast go by.  I’ve only seen parts of the coast when traveling, or riding Soarin’ so this will be a highlight for me.  We arrive in Victoria on May 2.  Here’s where the problems start.  Weather.com only has the forecast through April 30!  Now what do I do?  I start looking at the trends the week leading up to April 30.  It should be pretty consistent, right?  The “trend” I’m seeing are low 50s in both Victoria and Vancouver at the end of April.

Here’s where I hope the trends will change.  When we first booked the cruise to Alaska, people said it was very rainy up there.  Then they said that May is not a very rainy month.  What do the trends show?  Rain, showers, more rain, every day.  Maybe that’s because of the April showers?  Maybe May will be drier.  Ok, I packed my Mickey ponchos, just in case.  What’s just as disturbing as the rain are the high temperatures.  High 40s and low 50s!  The lows are to be in the upper 30s and lower 40s!  What was I thinking!  I hate the cold!  (I know, why do I live in Wisconsin then?).

It’s just simply too far out to worry about Seattle now, where we’ll be for a couple nights after the cruise.  I’m hoping for a heatwave when we get there!  Oh wait, I won’t have enough shorts!

I’m happy to say, I have charged all the camera batteries, downloaded any “forgotten” photos and packed my camera bag.  That’s about all that is ready to go.  My spare bedroom is littered with stacks of clothes, formals, shoes, fish extenders and gifts, luggage, you name it.  Anything we may need to pack.  What is disturbing is the lack of items that are actually in the luggage.  And there’s still a few things that haven’t been washed yet.  Why?  Because it’s too cold to pack them since we are still wearing them!  The weatherman is forecasting a little warmer today with thunderstorms tomorrow.  It’ll be nice on Saturday and Sunday, when I have no choice but to get packing and leave.

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