No matter where you live or what your job is, getting yourself organized to get out of the house for a trip takes a bit of thought and planning—for it to run smoothly, that is. My current life revolves around a demanding Silicon Valley job, lots of time commuting in my car, and newfound responsibilities related to being a new homeowner. As a result, I lack a lot of extracurricular time, which can make it difficult to prepare for a trip.
Being a ‘planner’ by nature, I immediately began to brainstorm ways that I could maximize my trip planning effectiveness and minimize stress. What organically came together was a custom checklist that keeps me on track in various intervals leading up to my trip. I find that whenever I’m preparing for a trip, I pull out a copy of my checklist and use it as a base model to outline what I need to do.
Recently, I was chatting with my fellow TK blogger Bri about all the travel that my husband and I have planned, and she mentioned “You should do a blog post about how you use your checklist to get yourself organized for an upcoming trip.”
The checklist is a huge life-saver for me and creating one is really quite simple. Here are a few steps to help you get started on your own.
The most time-consuming step of developing a checklist is creating a base template. I recommend walking yourself through the steps you’ve taken in previous trips and come up with some high-level categories. For me personally, this tends to include:
From there I focus on what specific things I need to do for each category. To get a better sense of the specifics, I’ve listed a few suggestions below:
Next, I take my specific tasks and organize them into time intervals, which form the final version of my Trip Planning Checklist template.
Once the template is built, I save this on my computer and create a custom version before I travel. Having the template as a base saves me time from ‘recreating the wheel’ each trip. It also allows me add custom items that are specific to my particular destination.
I’ve experienced numerous benefits from using a checklist. First, it allows me to take a bit of personal time (typically on the weekend) to think about my trip. How long will I be gone? Who will be looking after the house? What items do I need to pack? It’s amazing how much less you forget when you have this planning time and are not up against the clock.
Second, the checklist allows me to partition the tasks out amongst a timeline, which avoids a lot of last-minute running around trying to get everything done. I focus on thinking about what I can do in the week leading up and knocking those tasks out early.
Lastly, my checklist guides me through the final things that I need to do on my departure day, which gives me the confidence that I haven’t forgotten anything. True story, over the past holidays my husband and I overslept our early morning flight and woke up with little time to spare. Even though I was somewhat panicked, I went right to my list and was able to check off the last remaining things that I need to do to get out of the house. (And yes, we made our flight!)
As previously mentioned, it does take some time to come up with your personalized template, but it’s well worth it, which will become more evident when time is saved in future trips.
Also, consider putting together a packing checklist (something we’ve written about before on Triple Knots). Similar to the Trip Planning Checklist concept, you can develop templates to meet your lifestyle, which again provides you with a good foundation to build out what you need to bring as you travel.
Happy traveling, TK readers! Also, let us know if you have a special way you get yourself organized before you travel.