Whether we’re meeting up with family for the holidays, going south for the winter, or planning a vacation in the New Year, us Illinoisans are no strangers to travel. Getting professional organizing advice for our travels? A bit of a new concept!

Here’s the good news…you can apply many of my home organizing concepts to preparing for your travels. Organizing yourself and your home prior to traveling can help you:

  • Enjoy the trip more and feel less stressed
  • Easily find the items that you want, when you need them
  • Avoid forgetting critical documentation, papers, plans, itinerary, clothes
  • Be properly dressed for the location/weather/plans/events
  • Return to a home that feels welcoming and relaxing

If you’ve felt the stress of disorganization while traveling, these 7 tips are about to make your life a lot easier…

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Tip 1: Organize Important Documents & Info

I think we’ve all had that moment at the O’Hare check-in counter, frantically scrolling through dozens of emails for the one with our flight confirmation number. Worse would be forgetting your important documents altogether!

That’s why it’s so important to have this information easily on hand and available to all members of your group. Not only does it give you peace of mind (even if you never need to access the info), but it will surely save you time and stress down the road.

My Advice: Evernote and Google Documents are two tools that are great for this. You can sync the information across several devices, share with all members, and it’s easily accessible from your phone.

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Tip 2: Be Prepared for Your Destination

If you’re headed to a warmer place, you’ll need some summertime essentials that probably haven’t gotten much use in the Windy City lately.

Clothing: Try on summer clothing about a month before leaving so you have time to shop for new things if needed.

Sunscreen: Trust me, you’ll want it. A terrible first-day burn could keep you hiding in the shade for the rest of your trip and missing out on the fun. #BeenThere. Better yet, stock up on sunscreen while it’s on sale during the off-season. 

Daytime Travel Bag: Pack a day time travel bag for exploring (this could be your carry on bag), beach bag, and zippered mesh or waterproof bags for beach essentials, wet bathing suits, etc.

Tip 3: Get the Kids in on the Fun

If you have young kids coming along for the fun, create a checklist of items they can pull together on their own. For example, five shirts, five shorts, two pants, etc. You could also encourage them to put together a full outfit for each day. Then pack the clothes together in the suitcase as an outfit, so they know each shirt has a matching short/pant.

If you’re traveling to celebrate the holidays and will be taking along gifts for relatives, let the kids be responsible for keeping a non-fragile gift safe. This will not only encourage them to take care with their suitcase, but they’ll feel extra proud when they deliver their charge safe and sound.

kids packing holiday travel young girl holding gold and silver wrapped present Christmas tree Chicago IL

Tip 4: Pack Smaller Bags within Larger Ones

Packing “bags within bags” is a great way to keep all your items organized within your suitcases. Ebags — square zip-up bags — are especially popular now. You can pack groups of clothing into an ebag; then place ebags directly into your suitcase for a perfect fit.

Bonus: It also helps reduce wrinkling! 

Tip 5: Pack the Travel Essentials

There are a few additional travel essentials that no one has ever regretted having along. These include: 

  • Hand sanitizer/wipes/tissues
  • Sewing kit
  • Manicure kit
  • First aid kit
  • Snacks, snacks, snacks
  • Pouches to organize small items within a larger bag
  • Bags for trash or dirty clothes

Tip 6: Prepare for the Easiest Post-Travel Laundry You’ll Ever Do

I can’t take credit for this idea, but I think it’s so smart. A client of mine told me she travels with large white/black garbage bags and pre-sorts her laundry: darks go into the black garbage bags and lights go into the white. 

Not only does this keep dirty clothes from touching the clean ones, but laundry is much easier upon return — just dump a bag into the washing machine. She also suggested using one person’s suitcase as the “laundry suitcase.” Brilliant.

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Tip 7: Ensure Your Happiest Return Home

Imagine returning from you trip exhausted from many hours (or days) of traveling. You’re tired, you feel the vacation magic wearing off, and then… you walk into a cluttered home. Not the happiest homecoming.

To ensure a more joyful return, there are several quick and easy steps to take before you depart:

  • Take out garbage
  • Run and empty the dishwasher
  • Stop your newspaper and mail delivery (if you’ll be gone a while)
  • Make beds and straighten up rooms
  • Declutter common areas

Do these, and your return home will be less “AHH!” and more “Ahh….”

abrams home solution vacation decluttering at home peace easy traveling chicago IL

How do you feel now? Did some of these tips surprise you? Inspire you? Hopefully there’s a least one you’ve never thought of before. 

If you’re eager to get more organized (and peaceful) in the New Year, be sure to download our “Get Organized in 2020” Ebook!

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