Vacation Folio (Binder)

familyVacationStackedCarClipArt[1]Yes, around here even our vacations are hyper-organized! While we always leave room for spontaneous fun (I DO NOT plan every minute) having all the paperwork and information about the vacation in an easily accessible folio helps me to relax and enjoy the trip.

Start with a 1/2 inch 3-ring binder or an expandable folio file. I prefer the folio or a binder that can be secured closed (think Trapper Keeper). You will need clear plastic protective sleeves for all your documents. (I like these that have colored edges so I can classify documents by type using the colors.)

Start by creating a vacation itinerary with each days driving or flight plan, address and phone number of where you will stay each night, what you will be doing that day (i.e. For a non-travel day, list that you will be at Disney’s Magic Kingdom on that day) and any reservation confirmation numbers that pertain to that day. Print this out and put it into a sheet protector. This should be the first page of your folio.

Print out all reservation (hotels, dinners, etc) and flight and/or rental car information. Print copies of anything you have pre-purchased (amusement park tickets, photo packages, etc). Put each reservation into a separate sheet protector. If you use the sheet protectors with colored edges, use one color for each location OR use one color for all hotel info, another for all dining info, etc.

Research your destination and travel route. Print out any information about interesting stops, rest areas, etc. and then put them in sheet protectors and file so that they follow your route (an interesting place to see on travel day two comes before a restaurant you want to eat at on travel day 7).

Next type up current health and medical information for each family member (1 sheet per person). Use the linked form or make a list of current prescriptions and pharmacy information, doctor who prescribed it, and any other relevant medical conditions. Print this and keep it in your folio.

Be sure to include a copy of your car’s insurance and registration in a sheet protector in your folio. Also add in a list of important phone numbers (you never know when you might need an actual list in an emergency. Don’t just rely on a phone.). Include a map that covers your trip route. GPS isn’t always reliable and you don’t want to be lost someplace unknown without a map. We also keep several empty sleeves for adding brochures and other things we pick up along our route. Stick a Sharpie marker, a pen, and a small role of duck tape in the folio. We have used all of these at unexpected times on trips.

Finish off your folio with DVDs for the kids (if you have a computer or DVD player for the car) and keep them safe using 3-ring DVD sleeves. Include a couple that you enjoy too, as you are likely to hear them playing in the car!

Now your vacation folio is complete. Keep this in the front seat with you and bring it into hotels. Enjoy your vacation knowing you have all the information you need right at your fingertips!

Camping Wash Stand

PVC Dishwashing StationGrowing up my family camped a lot. We are starting to camp with our kiddos now and looking for things that can make longer camping trips easier and more fun. This camping wash stand definitely will make washing dishes – or even clothes – easier. No more bending over a picnic table, you can customize this stand to be whatever height you prefer. Made entirely of PVC, this light-weight construction can be assembled and reassembled on sight, saving space when packing.

Here are the plans for the PVC Washing Station and other PVC camping accessories.



Photo from Joanne on

Saturday Project: Map Artwork

map-frames-0811mld107418_vertWhen I was a kid my grandparents had a map hanging in their family room and my grandma had drawn basic routes of all their world travels on the map. I used to love to trace their trips and dream about the places I would travel when I grew up.

Now that our family has traveled and lived in various places in the US and around the world, I decided I wanted to have a map of our travels too. As I was looking for a way to dress up a map besides just drawing in pen the trip routes on it I came across a pin on Pinterest that directed me to a Martha Stewart project for making map artwork. This difference here is that the trip routes are sewn into the map. I loved it. So this weekend’s project is to make a map of all our travels – with the routes actually sewn onto the map.

I can’t wait to see all our trips on one map!

Beat the Back-to-School Blues

Many moms suffer from a case of the Back-to-School blues as kids head off to school this time of year. (I was never one of those moms!) Even if you aren’t so sad to see the kids head back to school, or if you home school and the kids don’t leave you, this time of year always brings change and often a bit of sadness at the passing of summer. Here are some ideas to keep your mind off the end of summer:

#1. Start planning next year’s vacation! No, it isn’t too early. Daydreaming about the possibilities and beginning to make plans will give you something to look forward to doing. Read Vacation Planning Tips for info and ideas on why now is the time to start.

#2. Project time! From Organizing with the Number Three, check out item #4 for tips to find 20 hours a month to give toward whatever projects you identify as most important to you.

#3. Me time. No, it isn’t selfish to take care of yourself. Read through Me Time and give yourself permission to take good care of YOU – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and socially.

How do you beat the end-of-summer, back-t0-school blues? Submit your tip or share in the comments.

Efficient Packing for Trip

As we prepare for vacation, cramming 5 people into a Corolla for 25 hours plus all our stuff, I am all about getting packed as efficiently as possible. When we moved to and from Taiwan we packed in large Space Bags (great for moves or long trips). So we are applying that same idea in smaller scale for our vacation.

Lay out everyone’s clothes by outfit. Include underwear, socks, and hair accessories or hats. Select 1-3 pairs of shoes that will work with various outfits. We typically bring tennis shoes, sandals, and flip-flops. Place each day’s outfit into a one-gallon (or quart for smaller kids) zipper-bag and seal. If you are really serious, you can even suck the air out of the bags to make them flat and even smaller. We also pack one bag with 2 sets of pajamas, and an extra bag for each person with spare underwear, bras, and socks.

Bonus – dirty clothes go right into the zipper bag, keeping things in the suitcase separate and making it easy to pack back up.

For what to pack, check out the Master Packing List. For how to get it all in the car, and what to do on the way, check out Road Trip Tips.

Countdown Calendar

Kids at our house get really anxious about 2 weeks before anything “big” happens. A lot of our life in the last 2 years has meant we didn’t have more than 2 weeks notice for big things (like our moves to and out of Taiwan but as we settle into a calmer life back in the US we are once again planning things well in advance. After discussing with Little Man (who is 4) for the ten-thousandth time that our trip west to visit Meemaw & Granddad was still 2 weeks away, I had a brilliant (ok, maybe not brilliant but creative) idea to create a countdown calendar for the two kiddos who seemed to need the reminder of how many days left. Now, every day when they ask if it is time to go on our trip, they go to their calendar and either mark or the day, or tear off the tab for the day.

These calendars can easily be made in any document program (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Pages, Numbers, or Keynote or similar) and customized with picture relating to whatever you are counting down toward. Now my kids ask once, I tell them to check their calendar, and the mark off the current day, then they don’t ask again until the next day. I wish I had thought of this sooner!