Organizing and Planning Ahead For A Trip

Be Sure To Organize Ahead Of Time For Your Travel

Organizing prior to a trip isn’t hard, it just takes time management.


Planning for a trip, of course depends on what kind of trip you are going on.  Is it a family vacation, are you flying or driving? How many people are going?  Is it a business trip and you’re leaving the family at home?

For this post, I’m going to plan for a business trip with one adult going from the family.  For our family, this has been me doing all the traveling. Dave doesn’t travel for work, but for the last several years, I have been traveling multiple times throughout the year.

I’m planning this week for my trip next week to Bentonville, Arkansas for our first Collective Bias conference, SoFabCon. I’ll be gone for a week from home.

Plan at least two – three weeks prior to your trip

Plan what you are going to wear. Go through your wardrobe to make sure you have the clothing, shoes and accessories you’ll need for the trip. More than likely, you’ll have all you need, but there might be occasions that you do need to shop for something new prior to the event.

If you have to order sometime online, you should probably plan out further than 3 weeks to be sure you receive it on time, and it fits.
You want to give yourself enough time to return or have something altered if needed.

Be sure to check your accessories to be sure you have any jewelry, cosmetics, crazy socks etc that you might need.

Plan Week Ahead

1) Plan out meals for your family, or at least make sure needed grocery items are stocked in the house.
2) Get all the family laundry completed before you go.
Personally, I do this because if my hubby needs to do laundry, I come home to baskets full of clothes that I can’t tell if they are dirty or clean (nothing folded when it comes out of the dryer). He will use my sorting bins to put clean clothes in, I find my sorting bins upstairs in bedrooms.. oh my – an organizers laundry nightmare!
3) Prepare a packing list.
It is so easy to forget things when you are packing.  Make sure you add things on there like business cards, extension cord (if you take your laptop etc with you), phone chargers, camera download cords etc. In this day and age of electronics, there are a lot of accessories needed to use them.
4) Prepare a Family “To Do” List
Especially if you are going to have teens at home without you. When do they have to be at practices, events? Does anyone take daily medicine that needs to be remembered? Will they remember to feed, water and walk the dog or clean out a litter box. What day is trash day?
5) Make a copy of your itinerary.
Make sure your spouse knows how to get hold of you, what flights you’re on and where you’re staying.
6) Be sure to print out any tickets or passes you might need. It’s great to have everything on your phone, but if you can’t get service, you could be in a bind if you count on having important documents stored electronically.

Couple Days Prior To Your Trip

1) Start packing for your trip. You won’t want to pack any clothes that will wrinkle until the last minute, but have them ready to go. You can pack underclothes, jewelry and other items that you don’t have to worry about the “wrinkle factor”.
2) Prepare any food items you’re family might need while you’re gone

Planning ahead will make you’re preparation go much smoother, and generally you have what you need while you’re gone. It also will help to decrease stress for you and the family while you’re gone.



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10 Travel Tips To Help Dad When Mom Travels

Here Are A Few Travel Tips To Help Your Home Run Smoother While Your Away

As bloggers, many of us are now traveling to conferences and events frequently. I’ve heard several moms who need some travel tips to help their husbands have an easier time while they are gone. I use the term “husband” or “dad” throughout this post. It might be that the caregiver is your mom, or a sitter, relative etc. This is all applicable. So know that “husband” is interchangeable for whatever your circumstance might be.

travel tipsI wanted to share a few tips that seem to help my home run smoother while I’m away. I have to admit that my husband is pretty self sufficient while I’m gone, so I don’t have the issues that I’ve heard some moms have. (I say that and knock on some wood because I am traveling as this is posted). The kids I still have at home are also very self sufficient (11 year old triplets) and know our routine.

Several of these ideas take some preparation prior to your trip. Even though we are often stressed trying to get ourselves ready and it’s not much fun to do some extra work before we leave, it can often help things run smoother.  Keep in mind, if things aren’t too bad while we are gone, then going the next time isn’t going to be such a big deal.. right?

10 Travel Tips to help your home run smoother while you are gone.

1) Clean your home right before you leave.

If things are in order before you leave, then it might not seem as over whelming to your spouse. If the house is already a mess, then he will feel the pressure of cleaning too.

2) Pre-plan meals

Depending on your husband, and his level of expertise in the kitchen (or lack there of) have meals prepared ahead of time. Either frozen (with directions telling him when to pull them out to thaw) or in the refrigerator.  Label the meals and have a guide prepared with directions of how to heat them up.

3) Prepare lunches ahead of time.

You can even pre-pack the lunches if you have room in your refrigerator for that. Make sure you have purchased plenty of lunch supplies before you leave.

4) Have all the laundry washed and put away

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of my husband in the laundry room. He likes to “help”. Which in turn, means I have to rewash clothes that I’m not sure are clean or dirty. He tends to let clothes sit in the washer over night (and sometimes a couple days!) and you all know the sour smell that develops when you do that. So I generally re-wash anything that he has “helped” me with, once I get home.

5) Leave a detailed itinerary of the kids activities, sports practices and directions if necessary.

6) Leave a list of phone numbers, Doctors, Dentist, neighbors, car pool, babysitter, school etc.

7) Leave a list of the routine the kids are used to (if Dad,  doesn’t know)

8) Leave your itinerary and schedule of your events.

Husbands like to talk to us, and as busy as some of these conferences or events can be, they are already feeling left out (if any of you have had your husbands travel… you might know the feeling well yourself. My ex husband traveled a LOT and I relate very well when I hear one of my blogging friends say their husband is “needy” when they are gone). Both of you get skype and plan times that you know you’ll be at your computer and can skype with him and the kids.

9) Have a back up plan in place.

In case one of the kids gets sick, school is cancelled due to weather etc, someone misses a bus.Leave instructions with Dad and the kids as to what will happen or who will take care of the kids in these situations.

10) By all means… make sure the soccer socks are clean and laid out.

Quick story: On one of our trips to Vegas, where we were two hours earlier than home – Kim @CraftyMamaof4 hubby called her about 6:00 in the morning. Her husband and son were in a panic because they couldn’t find a soccer sock for his practice that day. We (@ZipporahS) were cracking up because she was so embarrassed that he woke up all of us calling that early over a soccer sock.  Moral of the story – make sure every piece and part to every thing you can imagine is clean, laid out, prepared, written down and posted before you leave.

More work on us? Yes… a lot! But the benefit would be not getting awakened at 6am with a frustrated husband looking for a soccer sock.

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Ziploc Storage idea for Guest Bedding

Ziploc Has An Easy Way To Store Entire Bedding Sets

I found Ziploc totes are an easy way to store guest bedding all together in one nice neat package. I  now have five sons who live out of the house, but come back to visit often.  Since we don’t have a large home, we have air mattresses and futons they usually sleep on.  Each time they come, I have to go to several different places to get a clean pillow, sheets and blankets.

I decided I wanted to figure out a system, so that I could have them all together in one place. I was going to get clear plastic trash bags, but  I decided to try the Ziploc Extra Large Storage Totes I have seen in the stores, instead. I purchased (this is review I’m doing, I wasn’t asked to do via the Brand and the products were not given to me) several of the 22 gallon bags.  I bought one at Krogers for $5.99 on sale.  I realized they were going to work and wanted to get a few more.  I saw them later that day at Target for $7.49 or $7.99 (I forget which), but they weren’t on sale at the time. I went back to Kroger to buy a few more.  My guess is that there might also be coupons out there for them, but I didn’t have one.


This is a more expensive option than buying clear plastic bags, but I like that they have zippers and that there is a defined shape to it.  The plastic seems pretty heavy duty… so I’m assuming they were last for awhile. (At least I hope)

I placed a pillow, twin set of sheets, blanket and a comforter in this bag.  I’m sure I could have done a little maneuvering, maybe rolling the sheets or making them all Martha Stewart like in how I folded them… to make this look a bit neater.  lol  But I was so excited it all fit!!


My next step was to label each bag with the size of the bedding and contents.  Again… you could make a darling label for these for display, but obviously I didn’t.  Mine are going into a metal cabinet in the basement.


The plan is to give each of the boys a bedding set when they come to visit.  They will bring up the dirty bedding to me when they get ready to leave, along with the plastic bag.  At that point I can wash the bedding and place it right back into the proper plastic bag, so they will be ready for the next time they visit.

Of course these bags can be used for many other storage needs than this, but this solved one of my storage issues and I was excited enough about them to share it with you!

Let me know how you store your bedding for guests.

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Organizing for Blogher

Are You Going To Blogher This Year?

Blogher is a conference for bloggers.  This year it is being held in New York City.  It tends to be a conference in it’s own league for bloggers.  It is big and busy and oodles of Brands show up.


Why are all the Brands (Companies) there?  They realize the value of the blogger and they want awesome bloggers to try, review, experience and hopefully write about their product or service.

Blogher has been known not only for it’s awesome classes to help bloggers learn more about bloggers, but also for many Brand events and parties which also yield  swag.  Not just a little swag…. but a whole LOT of swag.  Why is this important?  Because it brings on an entirely different slant when you are packing for a trip there vs packing for a return trip home.  Does everyone like this component to this conference? Of course not, many people wish that they did away with all the swag (and maybe one year they will).  Like it or not, if you are a blogger, and you attend events, you will be handed bags full of swag. (If you choose not to accept them, that is your decision). You need to prepare ahead of time on how you will get it home. If you are flying or taking a bus or driving in a car full of other bloggers, and you want to keep most of the swag, I can guarantee you will not have enough room.

Planning ahead will help.

Make a packing list

Being prepared ahead of time, makes packing a simple process.  I prepare mine on excel.  Think through all the items you will need.  I also like to make a selection of items that go in my backpack or purse when I fly or travel.  It’s easy to forget things like clearing out your purse of any items you can’t take onto a plane, like nail clippers or mace.

blogher packing list

Charge Electronics Before You Leave

Because we are all involved in social media, we have a lot of electronics we deal with. Phones, laptops, ipads, cameras and video recorders. Of course all of these items need to have chargers and or batteries.  I always make sure to charge everything before I leave home, so that I will be able to work on my flight or bus ride.

Be sure to write down all the devices you will need, including chargers, connectors and download cords.  I suggest bringing an extension cord and power strip if you want to use your laptop or ipad on the go.

Label all your cords & connectors!

Gather Your Business Necessities

blogher packing

Bring your business cards, and plenty of them!
I also suggest either having all of your events and conference pass, hotel confirmation, flight confirmation printed out for safety. I keep them in a sleeve for easy access. I know that most of you keep them on your phones, and that might be enough for you. But consider if your phone was lost, broken or the connection lost. What would you need to have (confirmation wise) that you would not be able to access?    I print mine out and keep them in a folder in my backpack.   I also have a calendar of all the places I’m supposed to be and when I’m supposed to be there.




Decide what your travel regulations are for the size and weight of your suitcase.  Most airlines charge for your bags and if you go over their weight limit then you pay a premium on top of your normal fee.

Since I’m taking the Megabus to NYC from PA for the first time, I’m learning their regulations are even tighter.  There is a 50 pound weight limit and size limit.  If your bag weighs too much or is too big, it isn’t as easy as paying more to take it – they simply won’t let you even ride the bus! You will be booted!  I also can probably take my backpack on the bus, but I can’t carry my backpack and a purse.


Plan your outfits to reuse as many clothing items as you can (without being all stinky and dirty of course). Jackets, skirts, pants and shoes.  Check into laundry facilities or service at your hotel before you leave to see if this is an option to reuse some of your items that need laundered first.

Be sure to roll as many items as you can to fit down along the edges.  This can be a real space saver.

I pack my heaviest bulkiest items on the bottom and then work and fit in the smaller items.

If you think you will not have enough room for some swag to take home, you might want to consider throwing in a roll of packing tape and maybe a broken down box, and sharpie marker. It will come in handy in order to mail items home. It will also give you a limit on what you can mail home.

Once you have prepared yourself completely, you can relax and enjoy Blogher with all your social media friends!


This post is also posted on the Collective Bias blog.    I am attending Blogher12 as an employee of Collective Bias and also as a blogger.

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Type A Parent Conference 2011

Social Media Conference

I’ve been to this conference three times now. Think I enjoy it?

I drove to Cincinnati and picked up my friend… Debba of @girlfriendology. That made the nine hour drive go so much quicker. I think I passed her driver test! lol

sandy and debba

We also shared a room, with Kim @Craftymamaof4.  What a riot we had….

sandy kim and debbaI always enjoy Type A conference.  It is in Ashville, NC and it is a fun, funky town.

Ashville NC

Here are some of the sites.

ashville nc I thought they were neat.  You might notice a couple of these pictures on some twitter pages…  (cbgardening and cbglamour) .. yes they are mine. I just loved how this one turned out. It was the reflection in a store window. I didn’t even think the picture would turn out.

ashville nc



This was one funky statue.


Type A Parent, formally Type A Mom – my take on that…. is you don’t have to be a Mom or a Parent to attend. I don’t normally think about it so much… all the “mom blogger” talk. I’m not offended by that title, I don’t get up in arms, I just don’t really care one way or the other. I do what I do… call me what you will.  But Debba deals with it, because she doesn’t have any children. She gets classified as a mom blogger. I’m sure there are many others in the same boat.  She doesn’t make a big deal of it, but it just made me think more about it.

Ok.. onto more pictures! I have lots of them.

We had a Collective Bias dinner with several of the CB members who were there.  If you were there and didn’t realize it, we weren’t neglecting or keeping anyone from dinner. There was a discussion in the Social Fabric community, everyone in SF was invited.

Collective Bias


sandy and rachel

collective bias jessica


collective bias

collective bias

kelly and ted

collective bias


The party that I thought was the most fun at Type A conference was the Smurf party!!


They had the place decked out and looking so nice.

smurf party

All the tables had smurf on them.

smurtUbisoft sponsored this party and there was some new dance games coming out… so of course… there had to be a dance contest!

There were teams… that took it very seriously…

type a parent

and others that signed up when they got there. Here is the Collective Bias Team

type a

Of course I thought they should have won… but alas..

collective bias dance team

But the finals came down to just a few.. The three up front were in the dance off.. the rest were just joining in for fun.

Chris on the left ended up being blocked by the Ubisoft guy who was also joining in and dancing (at least this is my version of what happened) Because she was totally “on”.  I think we were all a bit shocked when she didn’t actually win. But it was all in fun.

We decided to go out to dinner. Kim was craving lobster mac & cheese. The place we tried to go, had a really long wait. So we ended up at this really fun little restaurant.

Collective Bias

Ted joined up with us after his workout.(My new boss)

Mayfel’s was a quirky cute little place to eat. Loved it.

They had the most awesome sweet potato fries that I’ve ever tasted!

sweet potato fries

And to top it off… there was a peanut butter frosting on this devil food cake that was to die for!

peanut butter cake

We all had a great time…. and were very full. I will be sure to stop by this place again if I go back.

More sessions…. more fun… more friends. It’s all good.

kim sandy monica

Watch tomorrow for my “Shoe Envy” post from Type A Parent Conference.






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Packing Tips

Tips and Tricks to Packing the Perfect Carry-On

by Sunny Brady

carry on

I consider myself very lucky; I not only enjoy my job, but I also have the
opportunity to travel all across the United States. As an account manager for a
storage company, I am required to visit our facilities. About a year ago, I realized
just how much of my “free” time was being spent waiting at the airport’s baggage
claim. It was then I became a dedicated carry-on traveler. Since then I have not only
saved a bundle of airline baggage checking fees, but I have learned many tricks on
how to pack a carry on. There is an organizational science to packing a carry on and
by following these tips you can avoid baggage fees and minimize travel time.


  1. Do Your Research: In the past few years, airport security has beefed up significantly. So before
    you start to pack, do some research on the airports you will be passing through,
    double check the regulation carry on bag size, the laptop policy and the rules for
    carrying on liquids. There is nothing more frustrating than having all your toiletries
    confiscated at the beginning of your trip. So it is well worth it to do a little research.
  2. Make Use of Available Resources: When it comes to picking your carry-on luggage, be sure to maximize your
    options. Most airlines allow you one carry on and one personal bag or purse, which
    essentially means two carry-on bags. I often bring a small rolling suitcase, to stow,
    packed with my clothes and toiletries and a briefcase with my laptop, reading
    material for the plane and work papers, that I keep under the seat. For the carry-on
    bag that you plan to stow, make sure the bag fits airport regulation size. Most
    luggage is now sold based on airport regulations, but don’t be afraid to ask at the
    store to be certain. Depending on your preference, hard cased rolling bags or soft
    duffel bags make great carry-ons.
  3. Be Budget Conscious: Since you will be carrying everything on, you will need to pack toiletries in
    your bags. Now that airport security regulations dictate the volume of liquid you can
    bring on the plane, you will need to purchase security certified sized bottles of
    shampoo, conditioner, or face wash. Instead of buying brand name, airport sized
    shampoo bottles, try buying a bunch of plain three ounce bottles. That was you can
    fill them up with whatever toiletries you already own and can reuse them for
    multiple trips.

carry on

Let the Packing Begin

Before you put anything in your bag, lay out everything you plan to pack. Try
to wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes on the plane so you can avoid packing them
and wasting precious space. Since you need to fit everything in one carry-on bag,
there are two strategic packing strategies to choose from. Folding clothes is one of
the least efficient ways of packing your carry-on:

  1. Many of my friends swear by
    the “rolling” method that they claim allows you fit the most items in your bag and
    also keeps clothes wrinkle free. This method is pretty self explanatory, but consists
    of rolling your clothes up in to tightly compacted tubes. Then you pack them into
    the suitcase.
  2. The other option is lying clothes completely flat on top of each other.
    This option eliminates the extra bulk of folds and allows you to fit quite a bit of
    clothing into your carry-on.

Once you have packed your clothes, put your toiletries in a quartz sized, clear
plastic bag on top. That way when you go through airport security, if they request
you remove your liquids and put them in a bin they are easily accessible. Remember
you can’t bring full water bottles through security. Instead back an empty water
bottle that you can fill up on the other side of security or once you are on the plane.
Also keep a jacket handy, there are usually drastic temperature changes on the
plane and it can also serve as a makeshift pillow.

Once you are all packed, you can print out your boarding pass, skip the hassle
of checking a bag and breeze through airport security. Carrying on saves a bundle of
time and money, once you make the switch you will never go back!

Sunny Brady is an account manager for Storage Arizona. 


photos provided by Sandy

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Organize your Car

Decluttering Your Car

Car organizing
Our cars can get so messy… so fast – can’t they? We are in and out of them…. carrying school papers, drinks, food, groceries, etc…. Getting out of the car and getting just the necessities is common. Our hands are full, we are racing here and there and things accumulate.
So – we have to clean them out….frequently – to keep them under control. Right?

Make the same rules for your car. If you don’t need it, clear it out. During football season for the kids, I keep a canvas folding chair in the back of the car – but as soon as football season is over, that comes out and gets hung back in the garage.

I just wanted to share just a couple things you can do to help keep some of that little “junky” but necessary things cleaned up.
I have the above little organizer above my driver visor. It holds pens, a little notepad, some extra business cards and an extra pair of reading glasses. It also has a glass breaker/ seat belt cutter that my husband bought me.
CD car organizer
I use this CD holder on the passenger side visor. If I find that I am getting more CD’s accumulated in the car than I have slots for in the organizer – guess what? I take out some of the ones that I’ve listened to for awhile and put in the new ones. Then I take the older ones back into the house and put them away.

car organizingThis is in the center console between the seats.  It is a little cubby area.  I’m looking down into it in this picture.  In the tissue box I put extra napkins that I get from fast food restaurants.  I also have a few other things in there, hand lotion, some gloves etc… But be sure they are things that you use… and you don’t just shove everything in there.

car organizingUtilize those nukes and crannies of your car. This is in the door of my car.  Good place to tuck the umbrella, a book for when you are waiting for a child to come out of a practice or school etc..

first aide kitThis is a first aide kit that I got from Toyota when I went on their tour. It is a really nice little one – but packed full of things.  I keep it in our little car. (In my big car I have the pink organizer in back that has my first aide kit)

There are all kinds of organizing products to use for your car. Keep in mind that just like anything else – Organizing products will not organize you!  You have to use them properly for them to have any benefits.  The same goes for your car. If you are going to buy something to organizer your car – use it.  If it doesn’t work… get it out and either give it to a friends or donate it.

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Organizing Your Car – Prepare for an Emergency

Is Your Car Ready with What You’ll Need in an Emergency?

Of course hopefully you never have any kind of emergency while in your car – but let’s be realistic… people do all the time.

Car organizing

Not necessarily an accident – but what about your car breaking down, or running off the road in snow/ice, a dead battery or someone gets a minor injury.

Do you keep supplies in your car to help cover those things?

You may be saying – “Are you kidding? I have so much other junk in my car, I don’t have room for anything extra!”  Or it might be something you’ve just never thought of before.

I remember when I was in high school. My mom made me put a shovel and some sand in the back of my Toyota wagon because it was so light weight and slide around in the snow and ice.  She wanted to add some extra weight to the car, but also for me to have the sand if I needed it.  I did end up using it in the high school parking lot. There were about 3 cars and we were all stuck on the ice. There were boys trying to push the cars out, but no one could do anything.  Then I told them I had some sand and a shovel… even though I not a popular girl in school… at that moment you would have thought I was homecoming queen or something.  It worked…. they threw the sand under the tires to get some traction and they all got out.

The above picture is what I have in my car.  I have a kit I bought from TomBoy Tools that is made for woman. It has pink jumper cables in it, a tire gage, gloves, and LED flashlight – and it’s in that cool organizing bag! (Yeah… I love it!) I also have a blanket, a portable shovel, a plastic bag, paper towels and a first aide kit.  I just made my own and put it in some of the pockets of the organizer. But I have a pre-made one for my other car.

Think Snow/Ice and Cold

What if your car went off the road and either your cell phone didn’t work there, or it would take AAA a long time to get there. There are some things that you should have to be prepared and stay warm from the elements.

– A blanket
– A small shovel
– Sand or Salt
– Gloves, hat, boots
– Coat (of course! – but you’d be surprised!)
– Water

Car Breaks Down

– Jumper Cables
– Flashlight
– Tire Gage
– Flares
– The above “Cold Weather supplies” if it is cold or even cooler
– Spare Tire and Tire jack


– Exchange information
– Insurance card
– First Aide Kit
– Blanket
– “Car Breaks Down Supplies”

These are just the basics – What other supplies do you think are necessary?  Do you have them?  How do you have them organized in your car?  Do you think these items are necessary?  What are your thought?

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Organizing in a Hotel Room

Do you even bother to try?

I know for some a hotel room is a free ride to be messy! No worries that neighbors will drop in, someone will make your bed for you in the morning and bring you fresh towels…

What do you do when you stay at a hotel?

Do you put your clothes away or live out of your suit case?

This is what I normally do to stay organized in a hotel room.

I like to unpack right away.  When I first get in, I like to get my clothes out of my suitcase as soon as I can to keep them from being more wrinkled.  I hang them up and use the drawers to put them away.  I think like to hide my empty suitcase in the closet.

I get my toiletries and put them in the bathroom, set up the needed electronics for my computer and phone by my bed.

I like to try and keep my room neat….but you know what? If I’m in a hurry..I too have been known to just throw stuff on the bed or not put clothes away if I am running in or running out of my room. I am certainly not neurotic about it.

This last week it was almost impossible to be organized. There were 3 of us in the room and we were racing from one event to another…..literally we might be in to grab something or to change like a quick change artist and run back out to our next event.  Of course all the while dropping off bags of swag that we were given.

I did unpack when I first got there.  My roommates prefer to just open their suitcases and live out of those.  That is fine…that is how they like it. You take that….and 3 people in a small bathroom with no counters and tons of swag bags all around and you don’t have an organized Hotel room…you have a very messy one.

Did it freak me out…nope.  I was fine with it.  It was a crazy week and we had crazy stuff coming into our room. I didn’t fret or do my freak out thing (I can’t stand all this stuff!!!….aaggghhhh).  Now…if it was a long term situation…it would have been different. But it was just a temporary mess….

We had fun..and spending fun time with my friends was more important than trying to figure out how to have a neat room.

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Planning for a Vacation

Organizing for Time Away From Work For a Vacation

Plan Ahead

If you know you are going to have scheduled time away from work, then it is easy to plan for ahead of time.  For instance a vacation or a planned medical situation.

Seems simple right?  Just plan ahead and all will be taken care of?  Of course it doesn’t always work that way.  Sometimes depending on your job you can already be so over taxed that you aren’t able to get to the things you need to for a week ahead.

But make a list of what you need to do and try to work on it one thing at a time.

When you Don’t Plan Ahead

There are times when we aren’t able to plan ahead and situations come up.  An accident or illness are good examples.  In those cases hopefully family members can help out to notify the proper people to take care of the necessities for you.


For bloggers there are several options.  You can not put up posts (like I have not for the last several days this week. ) This is our vacation week and I took some time off from this blog.  I have been still working on my Chat with Sandy blog on a project I was doing for www.Holiday Roads. info (look for our family posts..Ohio to Marblehead with dog Gizzy!) …so I just took some time off from this blog.

I could have had guest bloggers, I could have prepared posts ahead of time.  I didn’t do either this time.  I think it is the first time in a year & half that I have not posted this many days in a row.  But I needed a little break.

Blogging is like that. It is my own business..I can post several times a day or not for several days.

Tomorrow I am having a small surgical procedure ….and will probably take a couple more days off from blogging.  I will just have to see how I feel.

Planning ahead is great and is ideal.  It is the best way to decrease stress and anixiety when you know you are going to be away. But you know what….things work out either way. You may have more to do when you come back if you have not planned ahead…but more than likely the work will wait on you.

Take a vacation this year…give yourself a little break.  We can all use them.

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Vacation planning

June 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Organizing & Planning for Travel

Are you all set for Your Summer Vacation?  I’m not!

I have to admit that we actually are not set ourselves! I know….you are probably surprised with that coming from an organizer….a planner.  But we are not stressing about a vacation this year.  We decided to go simple and save some money so that we can possibly take the kids to Disney next year. (fingers and toes crossed on that one).

We have a farm about 45 minutes from our home that we may use for home base. Staying there and taking day trips. We are also talking about going to Kelly’s Island in Ohio for an over night. Dave would love to take the kids on a fishing charter on Lake Erie…but still checking on pricing. (that would be pretty steep).

Plus I am starting a new Blog called Explore Ohio with Sandy (hopefully in the next few weeks) and I want to be able to highlight some fun places to go in Ohio.  So I am keeping the doors open if I get contacted to visit some fun places that I hadn’t thought about!

Normally we plan early in the year (if not the year before). Have our reservations made, have a route mapped out and look for places to stop and visit along the way. This year is the exception.

We have never flown with all 5 kids (just so expensive). We had a flight and vacation planned 2 years ago with $10 plane tickets from that airline that went under a few months later (can’t think of the name right now). We were going to go to North Carolina and see the mountains and the ocean (both of which his kids had never seen…or flown for that matter).  But my step kids mom was in a car accident literally hours before we were set to leave on our 6am flight and we had to cancel. She ended up being ok, but since we weren’t sure we didn’t feel we could take them away from her.  But we did plan a vacation later that year and took them to Gaitlinburg & Myrtle Beach (picture above from that vacation 2 years ago). We drove, but they did get to experience the mountains and the ocean…just not the airplane!

So have you planned out your vacation for this year?  If you aren’t able to afford a full vacation (not unusal especially with this economy) are you able to plan day trips?

What and where do you like to go for vacations?  Share….I’d love to see your pictures!

Here are a couple links of articles that I have done on planning for your vacations:

Organizing the Car

Summer Vacation and Kids

Summer Vacation Planning

Organizing for a Vacation

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Summer Vacation – Organizing the Car

Keeping your Car Organized when traveling

Keeping things from turning into “car gone wild” while traveling helps to keep everything a little calmer. Remember the “Clutter in your Home = Clutter in your Head?” We can change that to “Clutter in your Car = Craziness trapped in a moving vehicle with kids while traveling!”

Here is one car organizer that you can find online.   It would fit neatly inbetween 2 kids in the back seat. Looks like it might be better for the older kids who might not have as much “stuff” as some of the younger ones.

Here is another version of a car organizer that would be great for younger kids.  It is bigger and allows for a surface to draw on or play some games. It also has pockets all the way around but has an inside storage area too.

This is a car organizer that attaches to the headrests. I think it could still work on the front seats if you didn’t have a bench seat…for a trip.  I do like the idea and looks like it holds more than many of the normal ones you see that hang off the headrest.

The last car organizer is one that goes over the headrest.  This is one that I actually bought myself.  I like it especially if I am alone in the car. When I drive on long trips it is great. I can put extra drinks up there and maps etc.  When I am not alone I simply swing it around to the back seat.

There are many different styles and prices of car organizers on the market. These all happen to be from Online Organizing.

So on your next trip….find a way to organize your things and your kids things (might be a backpack or bag from a convention. You don’t have to go out an purchase something new.  Heck…a cardboard box can work great. Use a shoe box inside or cereal box for magazines etc.  Be creative!

Disclosure: I think I do have an affiliate link for online organizing but  I did not use any kind of affiliate links on this blog post. I purchased the bottom swing away car organizer myself. It was not given to me. No one from Online Organizing or any of the car organizers asked me to do this. I just wanted you to see the different options that were out there.

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Summer Vacation & Kids

How to you Get kids to Behave In the Car?

They look like angels here! But were they in the car?

So you are off on your vacation. Everyone is excited..the car is loaded and off you go!  For the first 15 minutes it is wonderful. You are talking about what it will be like when you get there.  Then little Jimmy takes little Sissy’s barbie doll…and all heck breaks loose….for the next 13 hours!

Sound familiar?  So what do you do to help keep your kids occupied on a trip?

Have plenty of things lined up to do.

1) Books – They are wonderful if your kids read. Make a special trip to the book store or library so that book seems really special.

2) Stories on CD – You can get at the library or bookstore.

3) DVD Players – I think this is a saving grace. We have a portable one we bought only for trips. But we don’t use it the whole way.

4) Have a pad of paper & pencil for each child. Play the License plate game (they list all the states they see) or the ABC game. Find the ABC’s on signs and the first person to get to Z wins.

5) Take non messy snacks and water. Fruit snacks are good or dried fruit. Small bite size crackers don’t make too much mess either. It is best to dole these out in individual bags for each child.

Have a Plan for Rewarding Good Behavior

Should good behavior be expected? Well sure.  Should it always be rewarded…nope . But come on, we are talking a 13 hour car ride straped in a seatbelt or car seat…we can’t ask for miracles.

1) We rewarded each child with .25 cents (yes..only a quarter and this included the 14 & 15 yr old) for each hour they behaved.  The real deal was that they had to ALL behave so that any of them could get their quarter. It worked great. They didn’t want to bug each other because they knew if they ticked that person off…they might lose their own quarter.  After a total of over 27 hours in the car (both ways) I think there was only 4 hours they didn’t earn their quarters. It gave them a little extra spending money and it was enough incentive to give them encouragement.  Did it take dollars each hour? Nope…just a quarter.

2) You can make a sticker chart or some other form of reward chart. They can do something special on the trip.

Give the kids Time Markers

Are we there yet?  How many times do you get that question?

Make some kind of visual marker so the kids can see how many hours are gone.  We have used CD tapes before. We used to have them in a console and each hour we would turn one a different direction. We only had up the # of hours we were driving. So the kids could see how close we were to the time we were to get there.  You can use lifesavers on a string. You could use beads or stickers on a chart.

I think if the kids feel a little more “in control” then they will be a little less “out of control” in the car.

Don’t forget…you can always do the old stand by = Drive at night so they will sleep.

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Summer Vacation Planning

Have You Planned Your Vacation Yet?

This was from our trip 2 years ago.  I call this the “Ugly Van”.  I hated the looks of it, but it sure worked great for 7 people to travel in, especially when you come home with this!

Yes…hubby one him on a game. How could I say no to these kids?  Yes, after they had him a few months and realized he was more in the way than fun, they donated him.  But until then…he took up the 8th seat in the van on the way home…and he did make a good sleeping pillow.


Make a List before you start packing.

1) Write down essentials.  If you are going to a unit that you can do laundry, then plan for that. You don’t have to bring clothes for 7 days, but maybe just 3 days.  At least for the kids. You may know they have on an outfit they wore 3 days ago..but if it is clean and your on vacation…chances are that no one else will notice….or care.

2) Decided if you will need a roof top carrier or not.  Do you have one or can you borrow one?

Pack Activities for the kids

1) Do you have activites in the car to keep the kids occupied?  (books, car games, DVD, ipods)  Traveling with kids wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t fight. Many people leave at night just so the kids will sleep most of the way. I have never done that myself. But helping them to stay occupied sure helps the bordom and decreases the fighting.

2) Pack a bag for each child. It makes them feel special and gives them some “territory” that they can feel is in “their space” in the car.

3) Keep it simple. Remember there are great games you can play while traveling that doesn’t take batteries or power.

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Organizing to Traveling

Hotel Rooms can become familiar friends

Hotel Rooms can become familiar friends

I have started my traveling this year….in a big way.  So I really have been organizing to travel!  I just went to Austin, TX to be a judge for the Genesis Today Bloggers Immersion. I got to help pick one of the 5 finalist for the Genesis of a Great Idea Contest.  Debba Haupert won by the way from

I leave on Wednesday to go to Nashville for the BlissDom conference. I am going to see my boys who live there on Wednesday and go to the conference the next day. I will be driving there. I flew to TX.

I come back from there on a Sunday and leave again on Wednesday for the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. I will be flying there also.

Here are a few tips that I have used to make getting ready to go easier.

1) Make a packing list.  Ok..I always do this. But I took it a step further and have it on my computer now. So I just have to print it out and tweek it for each trip.  It has all the items that I am always worried I will forget…like the phone, computer, camera chargers and sync cables, business cards.  I have a section on it for things to take on board the plane.

2) You can also make another list like the above for things to do before you leave.  Cooking meals for the family, make a copy of your itinerary for your husband or wife, leave insurance card and schedule for kids activities.

3) If possible use a little larger suitcase to go with, so you will have room if you get things on your trip to bring home.

4) Pack a base color of clothes and use accessories to change your look to reduce clothing. Scarves are great accessories (I am just learning how to use them myself)

5) Be sure all your electronic items are charged before you leave.

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e.l.f. Cosmetic Travel Organizer Review

e.l.f. stands for Eyes Lips Face. What is better for the name of a cosmetic company?  There are so many wonderful products that you will have to see, everything from lip glosses for teenagers to organizing travel cosmetic bags.
016The e.l.f. travel cosmetic organizer is perfect for a weekend getaway.  It is a soft washable leatherette. There is a magnetic closure. The size is 9.5″ L x 2″ W x 4.5″ H

017There is a mirror and 4 slots that fit mascara and brushes perfectly.  In the middle is a pouch to hold your bigger items. This is held in with a magnet and will come out if needed.

019On the right is a zipper pocket that has a netting over it.

018This was a great size for packing.  It fit wonderfully into my suitcase. I do have to admit that since I was going to be gone for 5 days I did have to bring another cosmetic case for some bigger items. (Hair spray, suntan lotion). But I really did like this and WILL use it on all my trips I am sure.

I love this compact. At Blog World Expo I was given this by e.l.f. I thought it would be perfect to share with you. I put the pencil in the picture to show the size. It is a small, PERFECT for TRAVEL or PURSE and has everything you need – all in one.
006See how it pulls out in tiers? The colors are also all really nice. You know how sometimes with compacts they throw in some colors that you would never use? These all look like nice colors that coordinate.  This also comes in 2 bigger sizes…great place to have all your cosmetics in one without all the separate containers etc.

Purchase – You can purchase these online but soon Target is going to be carrying select e.l.f. cosmetics!! (These 2 items will not be available this holiday season at Target store..but you can get them online.) You can  get the this mini makeup collection for $15.00  or you can get one FREE with a purchase if you use the coupon code “LOYAL”

To Win a Cosmetic Organizer AND a compact – Go to E.L.F. cosmetics and tell me what 2 products you would like to see available for sale at Target stores. Then come back here and comment on the 2 items. Be SURE to leave your e-mail address on your entry.

For Extra chances to Win:**Each of these HAS to have a separate comment written please. (I know its a pain, but otherwise you won’t have as many chances if you don’t)

1) Subscribe to my blog with the feeder or by e-mail. 5 extra chances.
2) Blog about this giveaway for 5 extra chances.
3) Follow me on Twitter
4) Follow me on Facebook
5) Follow me on Linked In
6) Fav me on Technorati
7) Stumble Upon me Either add me to your favorites, or write a review.
8) Tweet out this giveaway up to 3 times per day. Write a comment for
each time you do with the link.
9) Add any of my 3 buttons to your sidebar and come back to let me know. Separate
entry for each one you add.

See….lots of ways to enter to win!
This contest will run until 11:59pm est on Tuesday Nov. 3rd, 2009 THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. ANY COMMENTS THAT CAME IN AFTER 11:59PM 11/3/2009 WILL NOT BE COUNTED.

This is open to US mailing addresses only. One person per mailing address only.
You will have 48 hours to reply to my e-mail if you win to be eligible. If I don’t hear back then I will go to the next winner.

Full disclosure policy 
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Travel Tips

September 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Organizing & Planning for Travel

Travel Tips For When Mom Has To Travel & Dad Stays Home To Take Care of The Kids

Do you ever feel like you are an octopus and have to have 8 arms to get it all done? Need a few travel tips to help?

We get to have a get away (maybe work…but maybe fun too) and yet we have to make sure everything is in place for our family when we leave.  So we have a lot to do if we want to leave.

That is just the way it is…we are the moms, the coordinators, we run the house, the schedules, the kids, the friends who help…..we do it all (super mommies!!).

When you travel…do not forget:

1) Itinerary of where you are going to be and phone numbers other than you cell (in case your battery goes dead or you lose it)

2) All the phone numbers of anyone involved in helping with your kids to your husband, any friend or family member who is helping. In case there is a hiccup in the plan…so they can work things out.

3) Leave numbers where your husband can find them, for example school, Doctor office, vet.


4) Prepare meals ahead of time (if your husband doesn’t cook)


My kitchen sink when I got home. (But the rest of the house was clean)

5) Leave a clean house if at all possible, so at least it will look good when you leave.

6) Make sure you have everyone’s phone numbers with you and you.

A little effort ahead of time can save many a headache during the time you are gone if things are planned out.

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Packing for BlogHer

July 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Organizing & Planning for Travel, Travel

Make a List To Travel To A Blogging Conference.

Are you going to Blogher? I am and I am so excited. I have a list of all the things I have to pack. Problem for me will be trying to get it into one suitcase that isn’t too big for the airlines. I am flying United and I have to pay $15 for the first bag and $25 for the second. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but coming and going it will add up!
I am also going to be selling pouchees at the Swap Meet (Make sure you stop by….they will be on a “BLOGHER SPECIAL” and without shipping cost when you buy from my table.)so I sent my pouchees ahead of time. So that is one less thing to worry about.
On the #GNO twitter party last night I said something about making a list and someone said she didn’t have time to make a list. What? I can’t imagine all the things I would forget if I had not been making the list along the way remembering all the little things.

Here are a few examples of the things that I think would be very easy to forget.

*Power cord for phone
*Power cord for laptop
*Charger for phone and download cable for camera to computer.
*Extension cord (to plug in during sessions if you aren’t right by an outlet)
*power strip
*Mini video camera and batteries or charger
*business cards
*Confirmation numbers for flights/hotel reservations
*Blogher confirmation, party information
*swim suit
*extra cash

Those are just a few of the easy things I think there would be to forget. Of course all your clothes, shoes, undergarments would already be on the list.

Let me know if I reminded you of anything that was not on your list and tell me what are some other things you can add to the list that someone might forget?

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July of 4th

Make a List To Organize Your Plans

For many of us this will be a busy weekend, full of picnics, fireworks, family reunions and fun! This was a 4th of July weekend at our farm 3 years ago. My hubby was helping the triplets to make and paint their own birdhouses. We went canoeing, picked black raspberries and cooked out. Great time.
But busy weekends also entail planning things out so you do not forget to bring the brownies you promised!

Get out Your Paper and Pen and start your list for what you will need to have this weekend.
1) Cooler
2) Ice – Make your own ahead if there is time!
3) Food/Drink
4) Place settings/cups
5) Napkins/paper towels
6) Trash Bags
7 )Bug Spray
8) Sun Screen
9) Lighter
10) First aid kit

Ok…now you add on to it. Think through what you are going to be doing for that day.

Check it off as you get it packed in the car.

Your day/weekend will go much smoother if you have it planned out and aren’t forgetting half the things you need.

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Organizing for a Vacation

April 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Organizing & Planning for Travel

Heading out of town for spring break? Taking a vacation this summer? Once you get to your destination it is great, but the days before your vacation can be headache filled and stressful.
Break it down.

Give yourself a schedule of what you need to get done and by when.

Make sure your laundry is all clean the day before you need to start packing.

Make a list of what you need to pack. Make up individual list so the kids can help. Write them out a list of the clothing items they will need. Just have them lay it out in their rooms, so you can check to be sure they really have the 7 pair of underwear you told them to pack, not just their one favorite pair! Use the list yourself to help keep you on track as to what you will need.
If there is a washer/dryer where you are going. Take advantage of it. You won’t need to pack nearly so many clothes.
Be sure to check out the forecast of your destination site for conditions so you know what to pack.

If you are driving and have to stop part way over night on your way there, pack one family overnight bag. This way you won’t have to unload the entire car to get everyone’s bags out for the one night.

If you are flying or driving with children, be sure to pack them activities. If they can have their own backpacks or bags with things that can keep them occupied, it is much easier. If there is room for a little basket for them with their things, that would be ideal to keep everything within reach.
If you have a DVD player in your vehicle, be sure to pack something with the videos in it so they aren’t all over the car which of course would probably end up with broken DVD’s.

Pack lunches so that you do not have to pay so much for meals along the way.
Keep a trash bag in the vehicle so that trash doesn’t build up in the car. Empty each time you stop for gas.

The more prepared you are before you start packing with a list of what you need to remember will help you in the long run. You won’t have to worry about forgetting the camera or directions to Aunt Kathy’s house. Preparation is the key to less stress in the pre-vacation week.

Have a safe trip and start those lists.

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