We took a little vacation

Going on vacation is such a treat, but the getting ready to go part can be really stressful. It’s taken me a long time to realize how much time I really need to get ready to go. I know that the more I work on this whole simplifying thing, the easier it will get, and ultimately it will not take quite as much time. Here are some snippets of how things went this year.

I knew that I was behind on laundry, so I planned to catch up with laundry 2 days before we were leaving, then the day before was scheduled for packing. That kind of planning is progress for me!

I didn’t get to all the laundry the first day, so some of it got bumped to the packing day. I usually sort all of the laundry on the bed and then pick out which items to pack. It sort of works.

I think organized people must pack directly from their closets and drawers. Maybe I should try that sometime. Like when I’m all caught up on laundry and it’s all organized and put away. That could happen.

I had to get my suitcase from the bottom of the stairs, where it has been living for the last several months leading a double life as a baby gate.

Look at that! We found another area to declutter!

Guess what the fabulous Mr. RSS did to get us ready for our trip? He cleaned out the minivan! We were getting ready to spend about 9 hours in the car, so this was very helpful!



I actually forgot to take the “after” picture until after the trip, so I’ll allow you to be impressed that this is the after clean-out and after road trip picture. 🙂

I tried an idea I read about in this post over at isavvymom about hanging a bag on the back of the headrest to use for trash. Great idea!

We left for the trip only 4 hours later than planned. That’s progress for us for sure! All of those last-minute things to grab or take care of take so much longer than it seems like they should! Next time I’ll plan more time for all of that.

And of course we had a great time on our trip!

How does packing for a trip go for you? Do you have any favorite tips for packing or road trips?


26 Comments on “We took a little vacation”

  1. Oooh, the van clean-up is amazing! Go, Mr. RSS!!!!

    And I’m so glad you had a fun trip.

    My favorite packing tip? Hmm. I guess it would be to not bring too much stuff and to start packing as early as is reasonable.

    • Thanks, Kristen! Oh yes, I do have a tendency to overpack a bit. I think I was better this time, though, because I’m becoming more aware. Sometimes I just can’t decide what to bring, so I throw everything in there to put off the decision. I need to force myself to make decisions the first time the opportunity arises – this happens with clutter, too!

  2. Mary Lisa says:

    Love the pictures! The suitcase/baby gate comment cracked me up. I was wondering how you had the presence of mind to click the shot of laundry. Felt much better when the after-clean car shot was post-road trip. The vacations shots were beautiful – Michigan? Hope it was relaxing! Mary Lisa in St. Louis

    • Thanks, Mary Lisa! It’s funny the things I think to take picures of now that I have a blog. It has pushed me to take more pictures overall, which I like. We were in New York, and it was relaxing. Yay!

  3. Chinamama4 says:

    We are leaving in 2 weeks for a 2 1/2-week car trip from IL to VT, ME and RI, with 4 kids, ages 12, 9, 7 and 3. We’ve done it several times now. For any and all of our trips, I have master packing lists of all non-clothing items (shampoo, toothpaste, etc) – one for me, one for the kids. I just print them up so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel on every trip. I also make a sort of spreadsheet for the kids’ clothes – their names across the top and what they need down the side (6 shirts, 6 shorts, pjs, church outfit, underwear, etc). I check each item off as it’s packed and can see at a quick glance what still needs to be packed.
    And even though we leave in 2 weeks, all this packing talk leads me to think I should start NOW, because we always leave several hours later than planned… 🙂
    Looks like a beautiful spot, BTW… 🙂

    • Wow! You are very organized! Thanks for the great tips! Have a wonderful trip! 😀

    • Abigail says:

      That is exactly what I did for our hospital bags for the birth of our 1st son. I just printed it out with a few quick edits to pack the hospital bag for our new little guy. (3 weeks old now)

      I love the idea of doing it for everyone for family trips. It was very handy to have for both the hubby and I when we were packing. It’s the little things that make packing take forever. So, having a check list that is already thought out makes it all much faster.

  4. Kimberly says:

    Great shots, Elizabeth!
    I just nominated you and your blog for the Versatile Blogger award!
    I love your site– Congrats! 8)

  5. Alice says:

    I’m another big fan of packing lists like Chinamama mentioned, though I’m not always on top of *using* them … My favorite tips that I actually *do* are:
    1. Take a breath in the middle of everything and not feel obligated to Leave A Clean House behind – this was an axiom of my mother’s, but it works far better for her (tidier) personality than it does for mine.
    2. Get all packing finished the night before (except for a little bag of toiletries) – even if it means that I stay up later, it’s way nicer for me to be able to sleep knowing that things are Done, and to not stress out about a deadline, especially since we’re often dealing with airports.

    • Great tips! Since there are parts of my house that I have been keeping tidier lately, I was hopeful to leave it a little nicer than I usually do. The living room, however was a total disaster zone. But guess what? I came home to a clean & clear kitchen island! It’s definitely not helpful to get stressed out and give yourself expectations that are too high. It’s enough just to get everyone out the door! 🙂

      Finishing the night before is a very very good idea! And the airport thing is even harder when it comes to packing and getting through the craziness to the plane. We used to do that scene more often, but not in the last couple of years.

  6. Walnut says:

    I do a marathon laundry the day before I plan to pack. I don’t focus so much on getting laundry put away, but rather to just keep the washer and dryer going at all times. Then I pull all of the suitcases out and as I start to fold laundry, I toss things that will definitely need to be packed in the vicinity of their particular suitcase. No point in folding something only to have to refold it in the suitcase later. It also makes it easy to put away the things that definitely won’t need to be packed.

    • This is very similar to what I do except that I fold everything first, then put things either into a suitcase or laundry basket to be put away. Great minds (behind on laundry) think alike! 🙂

  7. Theresa says:

    We have been fortunate to have laundry facilities at our vacation spot so I would tell the kids “4 shorts, 4 shirts, 4 pairs socks/undies, bathing suit, towel — go get them and bring them to me”. I’d pack the clothes of those who bunked together in the same suitcase/duffel bag. Each kid, and there were 5, had their own backpack for books, puzzles, and other ‘essential to their survival’ gear – but it had to fit in their pack. The packs were with them in the car for the ride. We’d pack some food for the first morning there (coffee for Mom and Dad!) and my sweet husband began the tradition of picking up fried chicken on our way to the condo for our arrival dinner. What a blessing he is! The kids knew we were within 15 minutes when Dad pulled into the chicken place. We got better as the years went by because we usually spent the first morning sipping coffee on the deck assessing ‘what worked and what didn’t’ in getting us there and keeping me from being stressed out. That’s been one huge step in my growth! I’ll bet Mr. RSS has similar bent!

    • This sounds great, Theresa! I think I might be right around the corner from having my older 2 pack themselves. Yippee! And we gotta love sweet husbands who don’t want their wives stressed out! 🙂

  8. Janice says:

    I agree with having a master list, although I didn’t figure it out until my kids were grown! Oh well…. Anyway, the list clears my mind — I don’t have to keep going over things in my head to see what I have forgotten.

    I start buying snacks, drinks and necessities a couple weeks before the trip and put everything in a big plastic “holding” tub as I buy it. That way everything is in one place.

    It also helps me to pack my cosmetic case a day or two ahead of time and work out of it.

  9. WilliamB says:

    I have a master list in excel that covers *everything.* Each category (such as toiletries, conveniences, gifts to give away) in a column. I really mean everything – the list contains what I’d need for a trip to Grandma’s for Xmas as well as what I’d need for 3 weeks solo in China. (Not random examples.)

    For each trip I make an electronic copy, edit as appropriate – I don’t need the same things for Grandma’s as I do for Szechuan – and print it out. This is that trip’s packing list.

    Meanwhile I wash & put away all my dirty clothes and find a large surface to use, such as a bed. Then I start laying stuff out and marking it off the list. Then I eyeball everything and decide what I can leave behind. For example, I am notorious for packing too much reading material, as if I can’t buy material in English pretty much everywhere now. (This didn’t used to be the case, and is the origin of the problem.)

    For road trips I like to pack expensive snacks (soda, chips, dried fruit) as well. They’re a lot cheaper bought at home than at a road-side convenience store. And several grocery sacks for trash bags … although this is the item I’m mostly likely to forget. You decide if this is an improvement over my previous most-forgotten item: hairbrush.

    My best tip is to pack for the whole trip, then lay out Travel Day clothes from what I’ve packed.

    My next best tip is to keep a list of what I wished I brought but didn’t.

    My third best tip may not apply. I keep a set of travel toiletries: razor, toothbrush, matches, etc. As with the list I have everything there. I dump it on the bed, decide what I need for that trip, put the rest away. Much easier than trying to remember every last item and fetching that item from wherever it lives, but not worth it if you don’t travel frequently.

    I’ve heard of a neat idea for small children: pack each day’s clothes (including underwear and socks) into a ziploc. All you need do is grab a bag in the morning rather than rummaging through the whole pile. I’m wondering if that would be feasible for grown-ups as well.


    • Chinamama4 says:

      I liked the outfit-per-day in a bag idea and tried it. But I found that with small ones, a shirt might get spilled on but the pants are still OK, or a diaper blowout may mess a pair of shorts but the shirt is still OK. So then I’d be breaking up “outfits” to change the soiled item. So now I pack ALL plain denim bottoms (shorts/jeans) that go with everything, and a bunch of shirts. My kids just pick a shirt and any pair of bottoms and they’re good to go, and if there’s a need to change one piece, it can be done without messing up the system or wearing plaids with stripes! 🙂

    • Super tips, WilliamB!! Keeping a list of what you wished you brought is really planning ahead!

  10. Chelsey says:

    Your suitcase is a baby gate — how practical! I love the collection of sticks and things in your ‘before’ pictures of the van.

    I pack my toiletries a day or two before like a pp mentioned. I also have a master list so I don’t forget things. With clothes I don’t use a list though — I just lay out x amount of shirts and bottoms that will match well together.

    A tip I have is I never wash clothes towards the end of a trip or a vacation (unless it’s a stain that would set). I pack dirty clothes home and unpack directly into the laundry hampers.

    Where did you go? This looks beautiful!!!

  11. mairsydoats says:

    I’m also a big fan of the master-list… And I keep a “bathroom bag” pretty well stocked (which makes it pretty darned useful for running-out-of-things emergencies when not traveling). I have just a couple of things to add: I don’t have kids myself, but loved something I saw on another blog – she’d made a pictoral packing list for kids: http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2011/07/printable-packing-list-for-kids.html which just sounds like a great idea! And along with WilliamB’s note-what-you-wish-you’d-remembered list, I like to look at my packing list when I get home and note the things I dragged around on the trip and NEVER TOUCHED. I’m using that as a long-term learning tool to not overpack as much. I figure if I’m making a little progress, that’s good enough.

  12. Debbie T. says:

    When my children were younger, it was very helpful to have them fill a small back pack (each) with odds and ends to keep them occupied – especially for the lengthy time in the car. So- they each had their own “treasure” bag. Stocked up on travel size favorite games whenever they were on sale too. Also, as you can tell, you need to play catch up on the laundry long before 2 days prior. I would start no later the the week before. This allowed for unexpected interruptions/distractions. Having a hubby willing to clean out the minivan is wonderful. I used to pack non-perishable and perishable in a cooler. Makes much more sense to find the local super walmart or such, close to your destination and pick up your perishables along the way. Really cuts down on waste, for us anyway. And you don’t have to pack a huge cooler and deal with ice issues. Each suitcase gets a clean trash bag for dirty clothes and the newspaper plastic bags are perfect for holding shoes. Anyway, just a few random thoughts on packing for a trip. Looks like you all had a fun time.

  13. […] – Mr. RSS cleaned it out the last time, but I know it would bless him if I can keep it […]

  14. […] decluttering project… from when Mr. ReadySetSimplify cleaned out the minivan. And I already posted the before and after pictures! Yikes! When I posted those pictures I had in my mind that the project was finished. But really […]

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