Travel Preparations

Getting Ready to Leave for Miami

Preparing for a family trip of 10 days is no simple task. There are many things that need to be taken care of while we are away. We began making arrangements several weeks ago so that things are taken care of while we are away. Enjoying the company of pets has its price. They have to be taken care of when we’re not here. Fortunately we have family members in the area and one of them has agreed to live at our house during our travels. Other items that needed to be planned weeks or even a few months ago where snow removal so our guest can move a car out of the driveway in the event of a significant snowfall and water changes for our fish. We have a few larger aquariums to maintain so scheduling water changes to compensate for our time away is part of our travel preparations. I planned out when the first water changes could happen when we return and worked backwards to determine which aquariums needed to be changed at which dates to provide the best environment as possible. Some of those fish tanks only need to be changed once a month while others need to be changed every week and a half.

Checking It Twice

Getting closer to the actual travel dates bring many more items to take care of. Mental packing lists and items needed for our trip help so that when it’s packing time we have everything we want to bring with us. Many people actually write down a list of items to pack however we choose to make it a little more interesting by just using mental lists. Fortunately we have gained experience over the years and have a good idea of what we need to have and items that if we forget, there are places at our destinations that we can get them. In order to get this experience, we have forgotten many things and have figured out how to improvise. Essential medications are probably the most important item to bring as they can be difficult to get especially if traveling out of the country. I place cameras as a high priority item however as they have gotten less expensive over the years they become less important. Things such as toothpaste or socks can easily be replaced at most destinations.

Do We Have Everything?

A week out and our travel documents should probably be printed out as our arrangements are all made online. It’s surprising to me how much paper we go through with all of the air, hotel, car, and cruise documents that we need. I’m bringing a small book of reservations! There are a few tours we know right now that we want to participate in so we booked those. That adds to the small book so we have confirmation numbers, times, dates, addresses, and telephone numbers that we may need. These documents are always kept in our carry on so that they are with us all the time. Other information that is often helpful is telephone numbers for credit card companies, emergency contacts, and personal physicians in case something happens and medical information if needed, not necessarily in that order.

Looking Ahead

Packing for a 10 day trip takes almost a full day after clothes have been laundered and missing items acquired. The first part includes deciding appropriate dress for the destinations we’re going. In order to gage this we look at the extended forecast for each place we will be spending time. This has changed how we pack more than once. Initially we may be planning on bringing more summer attire and then check the forecast for a specific area and realize that it is not expected to be as warm as we thought it would be. Getting each person’s items for each part of the trip and putting all of those items together into a pile is the next thing we do. Once we know how much we are trying to put into a few suitcases, these piles can be organized and packed using every bit of space as efficiently as possible. Socks can be put into shoes and other open crevices. We add small items inside our snorkel flippers and masks to help increase efficient use of space to reduce the amount of luggage we have to carry through the airport and into hotels. As we are packing our suitcases, we always remember more items that we need/want to bring. The final piece to packing for an extended week trip is to get the suitcase closed. I have had to sit on a suitcase to close it a few times. Once it is closed, each suitcase is wheeled to our bathroom scale and weighed to get a general idea of how heavy it is. If it is too close to being considered heavy by the airlines we will do some adjusting to reduce the weight which I have also done a time or two.

Is This All We Have?

I think all of our travel documents have been printed off and placed in the carry-on and our bags are about 90% packed.  Come Friday night we should be ready to go without staying up most of the night packing.  We have spent many nights before a trip packing and I do what I can to eliminate this as I like to get a full nights rest before traveling.  That may be the last full night for a week as there is no place like home for a comfortable place to sleep.

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