I should begin by admitting that I have a small amount of travel-day anxiety when flying. I am not afraid to fly, I just worry about pretty much everything that could possibly go wrong (traffic, a flat tire, weather conditions, long security lines, flight delays) until we have cleared airport security and are waiting at the gate to board.
My husband and I are a bit like the Odd Couple. I am very organized, a little OCD, and pack methodically. My husband is a huge procrastinator and would wait to start packing for a big trip until right before we leave, no matter how early that is. This leads to me scrambling at the last minute to help him find some item or deal with the aftermath when he discovers something he wanted to pack is still in the laundry (probably because he wore it yesterday). He can also spend a lot of time pontificating over specific items, like which baseball hat to pack. Not only can this cause us to get out the door later than planned it can really ramp up my anxiety.
My goal for starting a great vacation is to get everyone packed and ready to go on time while also minimizing stress. This can require a few subtle nudges to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
The Right Stuff
One thing that has helped inspire his packing is that we have assembled the right travel gear for him. A few years ago, we purchased all new luggage because our 20-year-old set was worn out. He prefers to travel with only a carry-on bag, so he chose a Sam 22″ Hard side Carry-On from the Samantha Brown collection. Although it is loaded with handy pockets, I also picked up some handy Travelon packing cubes to help him with additional organization.
Because his hard-side bag has no external pockets, we also purchased a small Shoulder Bag from the Rick Steves line that counts as his personal item when we fly. It helps keep him organized with room for everything he takes with him on travel days like his tablet, charging cords, keys, travel documents, and snacks. It even has a mesh outer pocket for a water bottle. This is a huge win for me since previously he would either shove things into his pockets that caused us delays going through airport security or stuff them into my bag.
Slow and Steady
I have developed a strategy to get him packed and ready to go without him even realizing it. About a week before the trip, I put a few key items aside as they come out of the laundry to ensure they are clean, accessible, and ready to pack.
A few days out I begin to ask him for some specific items that he has previously struggled to locate at the last minute. “Hey, can you grab 2 swimsuits for the trip?” I just stack up the assembled items on a dresser in our spare room. Sometimes these suggestions also inspire him to find his flip-flops or make sure that his grooming kit is stocked and ready to go.
The day before we leave, I ask him if there is anything specific that he would like to take. This gives us a chance to make sure those items are clean and can be located. Each item assembled in advance helps cut down on the last-minute packing chaos that we had previously experienced.
Packing it up
By the time we are ready to start putting things into our bags, almost everything he needs has made its way to the designated “on deck” packing area. Just these few simple things can really help cut down on last-minute packing nightmares and reduce travel-day stress.
We are in the process of preparing for a trip in just a few days, and I have to admit he has done a great job getting things together. He is almost ready to go. Winning!
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!