So you’ve laid down the law with your family (you hope!) and the funds are available – with plenty of wiggle room for unexpected expenses – and now all you have to do is pack and the “trip of a lifetime” can begin.
So let’s talk about packing.
I know what you’re thinking: “What’s wrong with The Hook? Does he think people are morons?”
Yes and no. Unfortunately, most people are morons, most of the time. But that’s a whole other issue, right now I’d like to stick to the matter at hand: how to pack effectively and efficiently. This is something that appears to stymie everyone – even smart people – at one point or another.
I’ve already discussed the importance of using an actual suitcase as opposed to the usual substitutes:
- Laundry baskets.
- Cardboard boxes/totes.
- Green garbage bags.
If you think using these white trash substitutes will save you a few bucks, you’re forgetting about the value of your peace of mind. Let me explain: most of us take our time and load our vehicles one piece at a time. Then we spend five to eight hours with our family in a tiny metal box with lousy acoustics. We arrive at the hotel, get out a stretch our limbs back into shape and pop the trunk.
BINGO! We are now staring down a pile of small and odd-shaped items that we hope to move to the room in a single trip.
Good luck with that.
Even an experienced bellman such as myself often finds himself challenged by a “hodge-podge” pile of crap, so what hope is there for the layman?
Moving on, one has to consider the layout of the room when packing for a trip. The average hotel room isn’t big enough to accommodate the average family, never mind all their luggage, beer, toys, weapons, playpens, goldfish bowls filled with drugs, plastic bags, etc.
If you can use three or four suitcases and pile those on luggage racks in the corners of the room, you’ll free up some invaluable breathing room. And while we’re on the subject of free space in the room, be sure to consider all the miscellaneous items your family will often bring along that tend to wind up on the floor in the room.
- Toy cars and action figures.
- Shoes – piles and piles of shoes. How many pairs do you really need while traveling?
- Toy guns, swords, and tiny LEGO pieces. You’ll usually find those during a late-night trip to the bathroom!
Maintaining a clean and well-organized room will not only decrease the level of vacation stress you’ll inevitably experience, it will do wonders for your housekeeper. And believe me, it can’t hurt to keep the person who scrubs your toilet and changes your sheets as happy as possible…
Let’s backtrack a bit and discuss the “family roadster”. Do you keep your car/van clean? I’m not asking if you’re a neat freak, but do you keep your vehicle relatively clean and organized? If not, them make an exception for your vacation and clean out the coffee cups, receipts and other miscellaneous garbage that life tends to leave behind. Then there’s your trunk: do you have collapsible lawn chairs, soccer balls, etc, taking up valuable packing space?
Whatever is sitting in your car “pre-trip”, you’re going to double or triple that amount and so you want to maximize the amount of packing space available. So clear out the junk in the trunk and the trip – and life in general – will go easier.
In closing, it never hurts to think ahead and ask yourself two very important questions while packing:
- Do I really need everything I’ve packed?
- Have I actually packed everything I need? Make a checklist: Timmy’s inhaler, Mommy and Daddy’s “special toys”, etc.
Remember, a little pre-planning can make all the difference in the world – it can also cut down on those little stops Daddy makes to duck behind a tree and take a sip or two from his flask – especially when you finally arrive at your destination and the real challenge begins.
But let’s save that for part 4, shall we?
See you in the lobby, kids…