Pack Your Bags!

While we're on the topic of holidays, I recently received a reader question about something vacation-related.

How do you manage the stress of getting ready to go on vacation so that you're not totally at wit's end by the time you get on the plane? I find it very difficult to get everything tied up, packed, all travel and directions under control - it's exhausting.

And this reader has a small child and a husband who travels a lot and can't always help out.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret of adulthood that I've learned recently: people who make things look effortless are usually working pretty hard at it.

I'm always surprised to learn that some people who I thought were 'cool' or 'relaxed' are actually just more organized that I am. Like the friend who always looks put together for work. I thought my inadequacy in this area was just my lack of talent. But then I found out that she actually plans her whole work wardrobe for the week on Sundays (sneaky).

So if you feel like you always have too much to do before going on holiday, leave yourself more time. And be honest about it. If you need to start getting ready a month before, no one needs to know (unless you write a blog about it).

My one caveat is that there are some people for whom getting ready to go away on holiday isn't a problem. You know the type: the carefree, happy-go-lucky ones, who can throw some items into a rucksack (backpack) the night before leaving, usually after pounding some shots at work drinks. I envy these people.

But if you're not one of them – how to get ready for a holiday without losing your mind?

The first step is to start packing early. And by early I don't mean a few days before. I mean at least a week. I discovered how amazing this was when packing for our honeymoon. I knew there was no way I would be able to pack after the wedding, so two weeks before (don't judge – the weekend beforehand I was turned out of my own house for the 'stag' party) I spent an afternoon trying stuff on and deciding what to bring. Thing is, without the last minute pressure, you can actually enjoy it. It cleverly adds to the anticipation and reminds you why you are going away, as you pack your sun block and wide-brimmed hat and imagine how nice it will actually be. Don't get ridiculous or anything, you can pack your toiletries and carry-on the night before. This strategy, however, leaves you time to edit, time to wash things you want to bring and make a list of the stuff you still need to buy at Boots (or your neighbourhood drug store). And you will have a whole week to do it.

But what about all the other stuff? Finishing up at work before the holiday and all the other unexpected things that happen last-minute, before you go away? My reader explains what happened before her last holiday:

I had to scramble to find workmen to sort out a window with broken locks, wasps, another window letting all the rain leak in and finally a leaky toilet.

Again, what you need is time. So clear the decks. Don't plan social events in the week to the run up to a holiday. Leave time for disasters. Aim to have your packing done the week before and use the same tactic for other things that have to get done. For example, I try to make sure I've got all the 'urgent' work that needs to be completed before I go away done by 5 p.m. Thursday, instead of Friday, for example. Sometimes these tricks don't work, but it's worth a try.

If you're a list maker, make a list and a schedule – and as geeky as it sounds, set yourself deadlines. I do a lot of project management at work and I'm learning that setting small achievable deadlines is really the only way to get monumental tasks done.

To some, getting ready to go on a big holiday may not seem stressful, but who cares – if it's stressful for you, it's got to be tackled. Because not going away on vacation is not the better option.

If you have a question you'd like Mind Body & Scroll to try to tackle, don't hesitate to email me. Or use the comments section.  

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