It’s been pointed out to me that not all my posts in the Healthy Family Travel Tips category are directly about health. Things like what to eat, or getting enough sleep, etc… those all directly point to health. The reason there are some posts like this one on making lists, is because I take a broader look at health. To me, health is not about what you directly put into your body, it’s also about the situation around you, the stress you bring into your body and the general mood. All of these things and more affect your health, some even more than the food you eat. In that case, a number of the Healthy Family Travel Tips will be directed to how you can reduce stress and bring calm into your travels. And with that in mind, let’s get into today’s post!
Lists. Some people live by them and some people hate them with a passion. Today I want to make a case for lists and their importance before a trip. That’s all. I won’t get into the bigger picture, just the value of lists in reducing stress before a trip.
I tend to live by lists for my daily work. But for some reason this concept went out the window when my wife and I started traveling together many years ago. And then our daughter was born and the lists came back with a passion, thanks to my wife. Now I won’t go on a trip without a few lists being made and here’s the reason why; for me, having a list of what needs to be packed helps me mentally locate all those items before the suitcase even comes out. It also let’s me see if I’ve forgotten anything important a week or two before packing needs to be done (and don’t forget HFTT#10, Pack Two Days Early to further reduce stress).
Further, when packing for a family, it helps with communication. If you’re the one who normally does all the packing for the kids and spouse, a list will give you the opportunity to let everyone know what needs to be rounded up before the trip. It eases communication which *should* further reduce stress. Everyone knows what needs to be packed and a divide and conquer approach can be taken. Listing helps take worry out of the equation for all family members when clear communication is established.
Here now are 7 tips for helping lists help you on your next trip:
- Make a packing list for each family member. It may be easier to have a master list, make a copy for each family member and then just cross off the items that a particular person won’t need.
- Make a list of things that need to get done in the weeks before the trip. This may include planning a house sitter, putting a hold on your mail (online!) and buying plenty suntan lotion, having kids clean their room, etc…
- Make a list of things that need to be done the day (or two before) you leave. Such as taking out the garbage, turning down the heat/AC, and dropping pets off at a kennel.
- Once you have these lists created, SAVE THEM!! I can’t tell you how many times we recreated the SAME lists for different trips. When you get back, take each list and typed it up in a computer or photocopy it and use it as a starting point for the next trip’s list.
- Assign items from each of the lists to each family member to help divide the work.
- Keep notes while you travel about what should be on the next list. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just scribble on a napkin what needs to be packed next time and add it to your list when you get back.
- Keep the lists out! A list put away in a drawer to keep the counter clean soon gets lost and forgotten. If everyone sees the lists on the fridge each day, it’s a constant reminder of what needs to be done.
On this site you will find a few packing lists I have posted over time, such as the Peru Packing List (a solo trip) and the Nepal Trekking Packing List. Rob Larson also has a great packing list on his site. Lastly, there is a good reason for traveling with one bag called, well, One Bag.
If you want to help reduce the collective family stress that can creep in before a trip is even started, try using a list or two before your next trip and see if life gets just a little bit easier.