Travel Organization Tips from our Extended Vacation

My husband, two daughters (ages 8 & 5) and I recently traveled on a 5 week summer adventure. Our trip is a bit unique in that we are going to be away from home for 5 weeks and we are traveling to two main destinations, roughly 8,000 miles apart.  We live in Dallas, are spending our first week in Anchorage, Alaska and then spending our remaining weeks in and around São Paulo, Brazil.  I would not recommend trying to hit both in one trip to anyone else!  We have family in both places which made it easier and timing just worked out.

In trying to be as efficient and organized as possible, I have found a couple things to work really well and wanted to share them here.

1. Pill Organization

For over the counter medications or prescriptions, I found a soft pill organizer to be the easiest and most effient way to carry medicine.  It’s soft, thin and can fit in almost any bag.  It is mostly used to store 7 days worth of medicine, one day per pouch, but I use each pouch for a different type of medicine.  I used the one below from Eagle Creek Lewis N. Clark but I also have this one I am going to try as well.  Use a label maker to put the names of the medicine on the front of each pouch and take a picture of the instructions from the box or bottle. I have a separate photo album folder on my phone that I keep all the pictures of medicine dosage instructions in.

2. Use Packing Cubes

These not only keep things organized in your luggage but can also keep things organized once you get to your destination(s).  I use ours like drawers.  They may just be stacked on a chair or a dresser but at least i know where everything is when I need it. I hate living out of a suitcase but when I have to, this makes it somewhat bearable! Amazon has a great set of packing cubes for a reasonable price.

3. Command Hooks

I just thought of this for this trip.  If you are staying with family/friends or storage is at minimum, use Command hooks to hang stuff up and out of the way.  They can also be used to help dry out towels, bathing suits, etc.  These hooks stick to most doors without damaging or leaving any marks and are reusable as long as you have extra sticky pads.  I use the packing cubes, hooks and the pull up handles of our luggage to help keep stuff off the floor and somewhat organized.  Check with whoever you are staying with to make sure they are ok with you hanging things on their walls!

4. Kids Travel Toys

I am always on the lookout for activities and toys that don’t take up a lot of room but do take up a lot of time (and provide an alternative to electronic devices). We have some long flights to deal with and these items seemed to work the best.

5. Cords and Chargers

Use washi tape to mark all cords and chargers for your electronics. There have been too many times when we are with family or friends and lose track of whose chargers are whose.  You can even use different patterned washi tape for different family members if that is helpful.

6. A Pouch to Keep Important Things Close

I found an interesting alternative for those that don’t want something strapped around their waist for carrying important items like credit cards, phone, and cash. The Running Buddy from Runners High is great for this. It it a pouch with a flap that folds over your waist band and stays put with strong magnets. It was big enough to hold my iPhone 6 Plus along with credit cards, money and a small set of keys. I will say you will want your waistband to be pretty snug so the pouch does not sag from any weight.

7. The Skivvy Roll

To help keep outfits organized, the skivvy roll is the way to go.  You basically roll up an entire outfit – top, bottom, underwear and socks into a nice package.  I use hairbands to keep the roll together and then hair is taken care of as well!  I usually just do this for my two daughters and I.  My husband packs his own stuff and has no need for hair bands!  😉

Summertime Centerpiece

I had a rare opportunity to take this last week off without any other plans to suck up my time. I don’t think I ever had a whole week off without being out-of-town on vacation!  It was heaven! I ended up getting a lot done in the organization department which felt great. Summer break is in full swing so it gave me a chance to get the kids on track with chore charts and some school related goals for the summer. I am all for letting kids be kids and enjoy the summer but I know it will be easier on them once school starts back up if they have had some structure during the off months. I started a chore chart for the 3rd time in my kids lives and I think I found something that finally works for us. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on what we did there.

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Another one of my goals is to limit time on the digital devices. My kids are just getting to the age (almost 5 & 8) where they can do more on them and are getting more interested. Instead of giving them time limits and restrictions, I prefer to try to naturally get them involved in other things. (No eye rolling please!) I worry the more something is restricted, the more they will think they want it.  As far as the “naturally get them involved in other things” part, I am going back to my mom’s strategy with fruit when we were young. She always said if you washed it, cut it up and set it out, everyone would eat it. Who can resist a bowl of plump juicy grapes or fresh sliced apples just sitting there for the taking? So… I  kept that strategy in mind as I did some organizing around the house. One of the things I did that seems to be working really well is my “Summertime Centerpiece”.

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This centerpiece is a collection of coloring books, colored pencils, crayons, games, and books.  It was created from stuff I already had on hand. During this week of organizing I was determined not to buy anything. I am always looking for some new container or basket but this time I challenged myself to use only what I had. A breakfast in bed tray that only gets used occasionally was used for the base and a couple of baskets and containers that I repurposed from other things helped organize everything.  A Lazy Susan or a stand with tiers would work great for this as well!  The nice part of having it on something is that you can easily move it out-of-the-way for dinner time or when guests come over.  If the guests are kids, keep it out!  It seems to draw them in like flies to honey. Our kids’ friends immediately plop themselves down at the table and start going through the goodies!

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You can add anything to this centerpiece you think will be relevant to your family. All or some of us can sit down at the table anytime and start something.  My favorite is coloring. I have some adult coloring books mixed in the kids’ ones. I will probably change things out each week or so to keep it interesting. Here are some links to a few products that have gone over well in our centerpiece.  I will try to keep this post updated as I find new things that work and keep them off the devices. I would love to hear your comments on other things that would be good additions to the Summertime Centerpiece!

Find Hidden Space in Your Home

A couple of years ago my husband and I purchased a new house. Well, new to us at least. It was built in 1948 and had not had much done to it since. While we could not upgrade the whole house, we decided the kitchen would be a great place to start. We put in new cabinets and appliances (I was not sure how the current oven would even fit a whole turkey at Thanksgiving!). My husband designed out the layout for the cabinets including pull out pan and cookie sheet drawers but one of his best ideas was to put shallow cabinets on an open wall.

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He used the depth of the wall to create more storage, similar to a medicine cabinet. It was perfect! It is an ideal place for spices and cooking oils. The depth also worked for all my mason jars full of baking supplies. This concept could be used in almost any room, from storing jewelry in the bedroom to art materials in a crafts room or office. If I can easily get to things and put them away, it helps them stay where they belong!

Here is a link to creating a wall niche from the DIY network. I could not find specific instructions for a cabinet, but this should get you pretty close. Have any of you used this method of storing before? If so, add to the comments below. I would love to hear other ways this idea has been used!