FLYing Lesson: Vacation Planning and Packing

Is getting ready to leave on vacation always a pain for you and your family? Do you run around like your head is cut off for several days prior to your departure time, not knowing which way to turn? Are you irritable and snapping at your loved ones? Do you pack everything but the kitchen sink?

FlyLady and thousands of other FlyBabies are very familiar with these feelings. FlyLady has put together a plan for you to follow as you get ready for vacation, that way you can FLY as you pack and have an enjoyable, fun, and relaxing vacation.

  1. Sit down with a pen and paper and PLAN! 15 minutes planning gets rid of the “Chicken with its head cut off” syndrome.
  2. Break your list into these four parts, or use four separate pages:
    • Things to do before you pack.
    • Things you will need to pack.
    • Things to do before you leave.
    • Things to do when you get home.
  3. The things you need to do before you pack are:
    • Make sure all of your clothes are clean and put away.
    • The house is in good order — everything in it’s place.
    • Make a grocery list of food that you’ll need to take with you and buy them.
    • Take care of your pets needs — find them a sitter or board them, and make sure they have their food.
    • Notify post office that you will be out of town and to hold your mail, or asked a trusted person to pick up your mail and newspapers.
    • Do you have the directions printed out?
    • Get the car serviced and filled up if you are going in the car. If you are flying or taking a train, make sure your tickets are in order and in your planner or purse. What time do you need to be at the airport or train station? What time do you need to leave the house to get there on time?
  4. Things you need to pack:
    • Take a sheet of paper or an index card and label one for each of the family members going on the trip. On this card, list everything that needs to be packed for this person. If you have older children, you can pass this off onto them for their card.
    • Make a card that is labeled “Food to take” and write those things down so you don’t forget them. If you can, put all the vacation food in one place so you don’t forget anything.
    • When you are figuring on the outfits for each person, be sure to check your itinerary for places that you will need dress clothes — church, fancy restaurants, etc. Don’t forget bathing suits, beach towels, and beach shoes if you’re going somewhere with water. If you don’t have access to a washer, you may have to pack an outfit for each day.
    • Now for your clothes. Keep it simple. Mix and match your outfits; then you will have less to take. Keep your makeup and hair care items to a bare minimum. Don’t forget a hat and sunscreen if you are going to be outside a lot. How about a book or magazine to read?
    • Don’t forget medications and a small first aid kit.
    • A good rule of thumb is one medium-sized bag per person and a carry-on bag
  5. Things to do before you leave:
    • Make sure the house is clean and sparkling, so when you walk in the door you are not blown away by a messy house.
    • Put Mr. Clean or Pinesol in each of your toilets and pour a little in your drains. Use something you like to smell. This will keep your house from smelling bad from stagnant water. If you leave pets in the house, put the lids down on the toilet.
    • Throw the breaker on the hot water heater if you’re going to be gone for two or more weeks to save energy
    • Also turn the air conditioner up to about 85 degrees or completely off — once again, to save energy
    • Check your freezer to make sure the door is closed. It is not fun to come home to a freezer full of spoiled food.
  6. Make a note of the things to do when you get home and leave it on the kitchen counter:
    • Turn on air conditioner and water heater. Unpack car as soon as you get home, or it could be weeks before it is done.
    • When you get the suitcases in the house, start a load of laundry before you crash. Try to keep the dirty clothes separate from the clean clothes, that way you can just toss them in the washer without sorting through them.
    • Jump back in and start over! Life is back to normal. Write out your basic weekly plan, and don’t forget your routines. Now is not the time to fall off the routine wagon.

It looks like a lot to do, but it’s everything you were going to have to do anyway. When everything needs to do is written down and in order, you have a plan, which is half the battle. Save this list of things to do and you won’t have a stressful vacation again.

Packing List

Here is an example packing list for staying in a condo at the beach. You will have to adapt it to your vacation. Copy and paste it into your preferred text editor and make it work for you!

Basic Packing List

  • ____ Ask neighbor to bring in recycle, paper, and mail
  • ____ Make dog reservation
  • ____ Clean out dog kennel
  • ____ Pack dog’s food, treats, leash (or cat’s)


  • ____ Changes of clothes
  • ____ Sets of underwear (underpants, socks, undershirts, bras)
  • ____ Pajamas
  • ____ Dress outfits (pantyhose/tights)
  • ____ Shoes (tennis, sandals, dress, slippers)
  • ____ Robes (swim cover ups)
  • ____ Special sports wear (tennis, golf, skiing)
  • ____ Swimsuits
  • ____ Swim towels
  • ____ Swim accessories (goggles, swimmies, toys, etc.)
  • ____ Sweatsuits
  • ____ Sweaters
  • ____ Jackets
  • ____
  • ____


  • ____ Toothbrushes
  • ____ Toothpaste
  • ____ Deodorant
  • ____ Hairbrush
  • ____ Hair products and tools
  • ____ Shampoo
  • ____ Kids’ shampoo
  • ____ Body wash
  • ____ Lotion
  • ____ Bug spray
  • ____ Sun block
  • ____ Lip balm
  • ____ Medications
  • ____ Nail file
  • ____ Contacts/case/solutions/glasses
  • ____ Shaving kit
  • ____ Make up bag
  • ____ Tissues
  • ____
  • ____
  • ____


  • ____ Water
  • ____ Lidded cups
  • ____ Bowls
  • ____ Silverware
  • ____ Peanut butter
  • ____ Cereal
  • ____ Milk
  • ____ Raisins
  • ____ Paper towels
  • ____Kitchen Disinfectant
  • ____ Napkins
  • ____ Crackers
  • ____ Bread
  • ____ Cheese
  • ____ Sandwich meats
  • ____ Drinks


  • ____ Pillows
  • ____ Blankets/sleeping bags
  • ____ Videos
  • ____ CD player with CDs/MP3 player
  • ____ Cell phone and charger
  • ____ Books, magazines
  • ____ Pen and paper
  • ____ Sporting equiptment: tennis racquets, balls, mitts, pool toys, rollerblades, golf clubs
  • ____ Hostess gift(s) (if staying at someone’s home0
  • ____ Map(s) and directions
  • ____ Resort/hotel/rental information

Last-minute Things

  • ____ Feed and water pets (if staying home)
  • ____ Turn on porch light, set timers
  • ____ Clear answering machine
  • ____ Water plants
  • ____ Lock doors
  • ____ Turn all appliances off
  • ____ Turn down heat/air conditioning
  • ____ Pay bills that will be due while gone
  • ____ Be sure to have sufficient checks to pay bills
  • ____ Stamps
  • ____ Large garbage bags for dirty clothes
  • ____ Laundry soap
  • ____ Dryer sheets
  • ____
  • ____
  • ____

Extra things to bring/do

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