The season of sunshine, sand and globetrotting is here, and chances are you have at least a few weekend getaways or summer trips planned. But, while summer vacations are meant to give us a break from the stress of everyday work, they can quickly become their own brand of stress when it comes to packing and prepping. So, whether you’re heading out to attend a destination wedding, hitting the jetway for a family reunion or traveling across the globe for a month-long getaway, we’ve got tips and tricks to help your travel prep fly by.
Get Digitally Organized
Create Travel Folders in Google Drive
At the top of our list of tips for summer travel prep today is the idea of getting digitally organized. Rather than printing out tons of documents and stuffing them all in an unorganized purse or easy-to-misplace folder, try housing all of your important travel information on the cloud. We recommend using Google Drive, Google’s cloud-based file storage program (that will quickly become your new best friend).
To do this, simply create a Google email address or log in to your existing Gmail account. You can then navigate to Google Drive using the grid icon in the top right of your screen (step 1 above). From there, choose “New>Folder” (step 2) and create a folder for “Summer 2016 Travel.” Then, you can begin to create subfolders within your Summer 2016 Travel folder for each of your upcoming trips. You can then drag and drop itineraries, screenshots of emails and any other helpful documents from your computer to each of those travel folders.
You can also use Google Docs (choose “New>Google Docs”) to create new documents within your travel folders. You can use those docs to list out important information, like check-in times, hotel contact info and confirmation numbers. Google Docs essentially operate like a Word Document would, but, rather than living on your desktop, they live in the cloud and can be edited and accessed from anywhere. If you’d like to keep a spreadsheet in your travel folder as well (for purposes of tracking budget, for example, or to create a packing checklist), simply choose “New>Google Sheets,” and work within Google Sheets just as you would work within Excel.
Once you’ve organized your Google Drive Summer 2016 Travel folder on your desktop or laptop, you’ll want to make sure you can access it from your phone as well. To do this, simply download the Google Drive app from the app store. You’ll then have constant access to all of your important travel documents, saving yourself some serious time and headaches (and, not to mention, saving a tree or three).
Opt for Digital Boarding Passes
Another time-saving trick if you're flying to your destination is to download your airline’s smartphone app and opt for a digital boarding pass instead of a paper one. Your boarding pass will update on your phone in real-time, so you’ll be able to see any gate changes right away, rather than being stuck with a paper boarding pass that displays dated gate and flight information. (TIP: You can find even more airport hacks here.)
Streamline Your Packing Process
Create a Packing List in Google Sheets
One of the best things you can do to help yourself prep for all of the travel ahead is to streamline your packing process. Remember those Google Sheets we talked about earlier? They make for great packing lists, as well. Create a Packing List spreadsheet in each of your travel folders with items specific to that trip. Create a column for notes and a column for “checking things off” once they’re packed.
TIP: Want to stay extra organized? Create multiple tabs within your Google Sheet. One should be for to-do items (getting items dry cleaned, filling the car up with gas, confirming check-in times with the hotel, etc.), another should be your packing list, and another can act as a budget sheet.
By working in Google Sheets to create your packing lists, you’ll have a living, breathing document that you can constantly edit on-the-go as you think of new items to add. You can also easily create copies of each packing sheet for future trips, so you’re not constantly starting from scratch.
Invest in Organizational Packing Items
Everyone’s packing process and suitcase-space needs are different, so take some time to assess how it is you normally pack, and then invest in organizational pieces that fit your specific needs. Maybe you have a habit of packing lots of shoes and need to invest in a suitcase that organizes them in the best manner. Or, maybe you have tons of jewelry that gets tangled on the trip and need a nice jewelry roll. A good trick is to ask yourself what it is that bugs you most about unpacking when you get to the hotel--Are your clothes constantly wrinkled? Did your heels snag that silk shirt? Whatever your packing (and unpacking) problem may be, find a product that offers a solution. Investing in packing organizational items is one of the best ways to keep your packing process streamlined.
One of our favorite ways to keep your suitcase streamlined is Flight 001’s award-winning Spacepak system. We love that the bags allow you to compress and pack tons up to two weeks’ worth of outfits into one, super-organized suitcase. They also help to keep items wrinkle-free (saving your iron time) and are color-coded, so you know what goes where—saving you packing and unpacking time on both ends of your trip. We especially love that there is dedicated space for clean and dirty clothes, so you’ll never have to pack that dirty hiking tank next to your dinner dress.
We also love the Container Store’s Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression system, which is made from parachute-like materials so it’s both super durable and completely lightweight. You simply pack one of the compression packs and zip the interior zipper. Then, close the outer compression zipper to maximize suitcase space.
Create a Designated Packing Area
If you're headed out for a long trip with lots of items or have multiple family members joining you on your getaway, your house can quickly become a place of chaos when prepping for summer vacation. Packing items tend to end up everywhere—suitcases pepper the hallways, piles of clothes to be packed topple over on beds, etc. Instead of letting the clutter take over the entire house, though, try designating one of your lesser-trafficked areas as the packing place.
This can be an unused guest room, a corner of a larger room, or even just a shelving unit that has some extra space to spare. You can even lay a blanket on the floor as a guide of where items should go. The trick is to keep everything you need for packing—your suitcases, items that are ready to be packed, etc.—all in one, confined space. This will also prevent you from losing (or forgetting to pack) smaller items, as they'll all be easy to see and keep track of.
Overall, prepping for your summer vacations lets you enjoy the vacation as it should be—free of worries about misplaced itineraries, forgotten phone chargers, and disheveled suitcases.
Have any travel-prep tips we missed? Share them with us in the comments section below. We'd love to hear what you have up your sleeve.