How To Prepare For Your Trip When You Have No Time

Sometimes I run short on time before I head out on a trip. The demands of work, friends and family can eat up necessary planning time.

As a travel veteran I know if I don’t plan and prepare the chances of having a great trip are really reduced. If it’s a vacation I start to worry about ruining it with a bad start. I I’ll forget to pack something I need. This means I’ll have to buy it the road or go without. Leaving home unprepared adds stress and wastes my time and money. We’ve all been there and it’s not fun.

I discovered a number of years a go a little trick on how to prepare for any trip with very little time. I still use it off and on today. I called it “Snippets” travel prep. Basically, you prepare a little each day over about a week. You lay your stuff out in “Snippets” of time –a few seconds here and there each day – and by the time you leave you’re ready!

It goes like this:

•Pick a place in the house to use. It can be a closet shelf or floor, bedroom corner, under a table or dining room table. Just pick a convenient spot about 5' x 5'. Call it your “Spot.”

•Each day as you’re running around the house pick up something for packing and place it in your spot. It could be 5 pair of underwear you just pulled from the dryer. Instead of putting them away in a drawer place it in your spot. This is a “Snippet.” of time you just spent preparing for your trip.

•The next day you could drop 3 t-shirts on the pile in the spot. Later that night as you change clothes from work take you sandals and put them on the spot. There’s two more snippets of time you just spent preparing to travel.

Over the course of a week you can get most of what you need onto your spot pile. It feels better mentally since you do not have to schedule large blocks of time to prepare.

If you scan the pile several times a day as you walk by it your mind will subconsciously note what you need to add. This means it will also take inventory of what is missing. It’s amazing what you will remember to add to the spot. And, you can do it when you walk by next time.

Take inventory of your pile a day before you pack it. Add missing items and place it all into your bag.

The result?

In seconds or “Snippets” each day you will prepare adequately for your trip. For extended or long periods of travel or trips to areas of weather extremes you may need to “Snippet” over a two week period. But, this will still work if you get jammed for time.

The “Snippet” prep method even works if you are the “Preparation Police” for a family summer vacation. Everything is the same, just more of it with a few minor adjustments.

Do this:

•Pick a place in the house no one goes in but you.
It can be a closet, closet shelf, office floor under your desk, bedroom corner, a table or behind a chair. It just needs to be anywhere no one walks.

•Expand your area of grabbing.
You may have to do a two or three stop load for your pile by going from bedroom to bedroom. It could be 5 pair of underwear for son #1 out of a drawer. It could be 5 pair of socks for daughter #2 from a dryer. It could be 3 t-shirts for yourself or a pair of sandals for the procrastinating spouse. It does not matter what it is but grab something every time you run by a bedroom for any reason.

•Divide into several piles.
Basically, each person traveling has a piles within your spot. Divide your spot up into several piles based upon how many people are traveling: 3 people, 3 piles; 4 people, 4 piles, etc. When you grab something for someone place it in their pile and go on your way. Next time around, do the same thing for someone else. Over a few days each person will have a nice accumulated pile of items for the trip.

•Take inventory.
When you have a few minutes every 3-5 days take a mental inventory of the piles. Then just add missing items on successive days.

The result?

In seconds a day over about a week you can have everyone nicely prepared for the trip. From here there are two ways you can handle the actual packing since you are the “Preparation Police.”

Method 1
This is the “I got it ready you wear it” Method. Everyone, no matter how unhappy they are with what with what they have in their bag, has to use it. Whatever it is they wear it because you had to pack for them. Yes, you can imagine the results. The benefit of this is that you rarely will have to prepare for anyone again unless they are very young children!

Method 2
Let everyone "edit" their pile. Twenty four hours before departure each family member outside of young children gets a chance to edit their pile. Then, they pack their own bag. They either do it or they don’t. If they don’t, this Method quickly becomes Method 1. Either way, you are off the hook.

Finally, depending on how much you want to be the “Preparation Police” you can
pack a few "essentials" in your own bag for those items everyone seems to leave behind: sunscreen, toothpaste, swimsuit, underwear, sunglasses.

In the end your family will spend less time trying to find forgotten items at your destination. And if you have traveled before, you know that this can add up to a lot of saved time and money on the road.

There is nothing better than good travel planning and preparation to guarantee a great trip everytime. But, for those few trips that catch you short of time, use “Snippets” Its a great a stopgap measure.

Joyce Jackson is the author of Pro Travel Packing Tips. On her website she offers tips and help gained from her 30 years of traveling the globe. It’s for those just starting out traveling or inexperienced travelers who want to be more confident when traveling.

Joyce Jackson