Organized Travel Apps

Folder for Vacataion Apps.jpg

This summer my family went on a spectacular cruise to Alaska! For this trip we were downloading several different apps to our smartphones.

My husband had the smart idea to organize them all into a single folder on his iPhone. He included our airline, rental car company, Airbnb, and a special app just for use on the Disney cruise, among others.

Having the key apps in one folder on the front page of his phone made it so easy to find what we needed right away.

While I still recommend bringing printed copies of your travel confirmations and information, having hotel, air, and car company apps on your phone can be a lifesaver in case of travel delays or cancellations.

Organized Travel: Packing Strategies for Every Kind of Trip

Want to try to be more organized while away? Here are a few strategies depending upon your trip:

  • Tour trip where you are in a different place nearly every night. For this kind of travel, you are packing and unpacking daily, which can mean in a few days your bag or suitcase is a jumble of clean and dirty clothing. Try this strategy: before you leave, create complete outfits for each day and put each outfit in a large 2 gallon clear plastic bag. Yes, this requires planning ahead of time, but it can completely streamline your morning routine while away. Take out the clothing for the day, and put in yesterday's dirty laundry. My in-laws recently were on this kind of trip and learned this idea from a fellow traveler. The woman who was using this strategy was considering finding a post office to mail several of her bags of dirty laundry home!
  • For a cruise or other vacation where you'll stay in a spot for several days in a row, you can unpack more into the room. Even when I unpack I like to keep clothing organized in these packing cubes, which I've posted about before. 
  • No matter where you go, choose clothing pieces that can mix and match easily, and bring layers. Don't over pack shoes (a common problem), bring a casual pair, a dressy pair, and sneakers or walking shoes. 
  • Don't forget to seek out laundry options along the way on your travels, so you don't have to take so many clothes. One family we often travel with likes to do laundry right near the end of the trip so they don't have to deal with all the laundry as soon as they are home. 
  • Read here for more tips to make the return to home easier. 

Happy travels!

5 Tips for International Travel

International travel is a wonderful experience. Make it easy to enjoy your vacation by taking these 5 steps before your leave: 

  1. Inform your credit card companies that you will be travelling internationally, including the dates you are away and where you'll be, so that they don't mistake your charges as fraudulent.
  2. Check to see if your phone will work where you are travelling. Determining this can get complicated. Does your phone use the cellular technology of GSM or CDMA? Does your cell carrier allow you to use your phone out of their network? I found this article very helpful for navigating what to do. 
  3. Make sure a trusted friend or family member knows where your important documents are at home, including a copy of your passport and what you are carrying in your wallet (see below).
  4. Clean out your wallet! You won't need all those store and membership cards, so take them out. Make sure you are only taking the most important cards with you. Consider making a photocopy of everything that is in your wallet and leaving it at home. In case you lose anything it will be easier to recall which credit cards you had with you.
  5. Consider using the Mobile Passport App. This free app, approved by U.S. Customs, let's you skip the line at some U.S. airports. Fill out the questionnaire on your phone and then go into the "Mobile Passport Control" lane at the airport.  

Travel Idea for Jewelry

Friends were preparing for a year-long move to Europe last summer, and I noticed that the older daughter had a genius idea for how to organize her jewelry for travel. She separated out her jewelry and sets into small plastic bags. She punched a whole in the bags and then essentially "filed" them in a three-hold binder. (I think clear sheet protectors could work as well).

Using this method meant that the daughter could easily bring the binder in her carry-on luggage. Love this idea!

Do this one thing to make it easier to find your summer clothes

Before you put your summer clothes away for the season, do this one thing: make a "vacation clothes" bag. 

While putting away summer clothes for the season, my client realized that she'll probably be heading somewhere warm this winter. We wanted to be sure she could find her vacation/resort clothes easily, without having to dig through the whole bin of summer clothes. 

Solution: We put the clothing she'd probably want to pack right on top of the bin in a clear, zippered bag labeled "vacation clothes." Now she'll be able to find her clothes for a warm getaway in a snap. 

This article first appeared in the Neat Sheet. Not on my list for the Neat Sheet? Click here to subscribe and get more tips and tricks to tame the chaos and stay organized. 

Organizing Maps & Travel Brochures

Do you still keep paper maps and travel brochures? I have to admit that I do. I keep a few for sentimental reasons (Paris restaurants, Geneva map) but also keep selected maps and brochures from places that I plan to visit again.

During one of our many snow storms last month I was looking for something in the attic and found a box half-full of travel maps and brochures. I decided this would be a good blizzard organizing project. (I could also dream of warm summer vacations ahead…)

Here’s what I did:

  • First I dumped all the brochures our on my dining room table. A few were sorted by place so I kept those together.
  • I reviewed all the maps and brochures and recycled a good amount.
  • Then I sorted what I wanted to keep by location.
  • I was hoping to put the maps/brochures into a blue accordion file I had (see corner of photo) but there were too many for the file.
  • Next I the thought of keeping everything together by rubber bands, but some piles were too large.
  • Finally I decided to use one of my favorite organizing tools: gallon size plastic bags. Easy, and the bags had a spot for a label.
  • All the bags were “filed” into a plastic bin back into the attic, waiting until the next trip is planned.

What’s great about this system is that for our next trip to VT, I just have to pull out the bag labeled VT and enjoy looking at all our favorite places.

AFTER: Organized into bags and ready to go!

2 Favorite Travel Tools

A friend recently gave me the gift of two of my favorite travel tools: a zippered bag and a list.

She found this blue zippered pouch by Walker, and knew I would love it. It’s great because it has color, so it stands out in my black purse or black suitcase. It’s mesh so you can see what’s inside, and it is sturdy. I used it on a trip to Florida to hold running gear: my headphones, headband, and my armband cell phone holder.

She also gave me a fun book of packing lists. This thorough list covers everything you might need on a trip, from chewing gum to your tuxedo. It includes helpful reminders for key electronic items such as cell phone, headphones, and chargers.

What’s your favorite tool for an organized trip?

Travel Tip: 4 Tips for an Organized Roadtrip

View detailsMore Travel Tips coming in from Neat Sheet readers!

These ideas come from my wonderful college roommate. Each summer she and her family take a multi-day roadtrip from their home in Oklahoma to see relatives in the southeast.

Here are some great ways she made the drive easier and reduced her car clutter during the roadtrip:

  • Pack a suitcase for the final destination, but use a smaller shoulder bag for the overnight stops. Just include the necessities – PJs, toiletries, and clothes for the next day. This means the bigger suitcase can stay packed in the car – and you don’t have to re-arrange everything each time you stop for a night.
  • Use a small laundry basket in the back seat to hold snacks and a trash bag. Contain the snacks and trash in the basket, making it easy to tidy up and keeping the rest of the car clean.
  • Designate one bag/backpack per child with their own books, games, DVD player, etc. When it’s time for an overnight stop, items go into the bag and can be carried to the hotel or camping site. Each child should be in charge of his/her own bag!
  • And here’s a tip for one you are home: Since my friend makes regular roadtrips, she decided to make one bin the “roadtrip box.” She put all the things she only uses on long car trips, such as the maps, picnic table cloth, travel cups, and car plugs for the electronics. Putting all these things in one place eliminates the chore of hunting it all down before the next trip.

I’m going to try out the small laundry basket idea and overnight bag on our next long road trip.  Happy travels!

Favorite Container #7: Eagle Creek™ Pack-It™ Cubes

This month kicks off my summer travel and I’m very excited to report on my new favorite container for travel: the Eagle Creek™ Pack-It™ Specter Cubes.

When my husband and I travel together we often share a suitcase. Everything inside starts out nice and neatly folded, but after day 1, his stacks of clothes start to topple over into my clothes. After a few days it’s chaos and neither of us can easily find what we need.

The Eagle Creek™ Pack-It™ Specter Cubes solved this problem! My husband and I tested out the cubes on our eight-day trip to South Dakota, where we would be packing and re-packing often.

We bought two sets of small, medium and large. While the small size was pretty small to hold much, the large size worked great to hold stacks of shirts or shorts.

The cubes are super light and fit perfectly into a carry-on or full size suitcase. Best of all, they kept my clothes separate from my husband’s. My husband also loved that the cubes make it very easy to re-pack items after several days away.

This specific product helped us solve a nagging issue. Sometimes a specialized container is the way to go.

That’s Neat! Organizing did not receive any compensation for this review. I just love the product!

Travel Tip: Stack, Fold & Roll

Travel Tip from a client: Stack all your shirts together, fold in the arms, and then roll them up. The client did this last year for a trip to Europe and said it really worked – it even kept out the wrinkles.

I tried this on our recent summer trip and found that it worked better for synthetic or blend shirts, rather than all cotton ones. My all cotton T-shirts were still pretty wrinkled.

I also tried stacking and rolling all my shorts and skirts together; they didn’t have too many wrinkles and it definitely saved space.

Do you roll your clothes when you pack? What's your packing secret?

Three Tips for an Organized Trip

Travel season is here! This week I helped two different clients get ready for upcoming summer trips. One client was preparing for a two-week special family trip to Europe, while the other client – who was retired – was getting ready to spend the summer at her vacation home.

Whether your vacation is a weekend, two weeks, or all summer, here are three tips to have a more organized trip:

  • Gather and stage your travel stuff.  One client used her guest room as a place to put everything she was collecting for her trip. This is a great idea if you have the space! For the other client, just getting a large shopping bag and labeling it “Bring With Me” gave her a place to drop in everything she found to take to her summer home.
  • Create and use lists for the routine tasks.  One client had a packing list (extra points to her) which we found and she started to use. We also brainstormed a list of things she needed to do prior to leaving (get dog sitter, neighbor to water plants, cancel mail, etc.). This would also be an important list to have.  For my client who goes to her summer vacation home each year, she could have a checklist of things to do before she left and to open her vacation home.
  • Deal with the important documents. Make sure you know where your passports are and leave copies at home. Keep copies of credit cards at home too, just in case they are lost or stolen while you are away. Be sure someone at home knows where to find these documents. Don’t forget to tell the credit card companies that you are travelling, and if you are going to be a way for an extended time be sure your bills are paid.

Now you are ready to relax and enjoy your vacation!

What’s your best travel organizing tip?