How I prep for travel without getting stressed

Becoming YOUR Best with Jenny Lytle, RN
How I prep for travel without getting stressed

How I prep for travel without getting stressed

A little planning ahead can make it so much easier. 

I have traveled more in the past few years than I ever have, and I’ve gotten a bit better at preparing for it overall. 

I’m getting ready for an amazing trip to Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island, Georgia!  I’m going for a 2-day conference, but extending it into a week-long anniversary celebration with my husband.  And I am totally looking forward to it! 

But … there’s the getting ready for it part. I know I have some friends who start packing weeks before trips.  Me? Not so much. 

On the rare occasions when I’ve done that, it’s like when I start shopping too early for Christmas - I forget where I put things, and I end up buying way too much.  Combine that with everyday busyness, and I usually start packing a day or so before (or the day of, but that’s rare). 

I’m leaving my almost 18-year-old cat at home with my two adult children, and although I know they can all manage while we’re gone, there are still things I want to have taken care of before we go. 

Then there are the things that I want to finish doing business-wise and home-wise before we head out, and the things I’ll bring with me for work, as well as our regular packing. 

Here’s my thought process and overall plan when it comes to getting ready for a trip. I divide it into 3 categories to keep me focused - home, errands, and work.


I like to have things reasonably neat and clean before I leave, whether it’s just me leaving or all of us going somewhere.  I really dislike coming home to a dirty house, and it feels like it makes packing easier. There are also some random things that I always like to have taken care of that just make me feel better. Here’s my usual list, that I think I’ll add to my official packing list instead of just writing it down each time:

  • Laundry washed, dried, put away
  • Dishes washed, dried, put away
  • Counters cleaned off and wiped off
  • “Hot spots” (see 7 simple steps for a clean home, fast) taken care of - those areas where we like to pile stuff - and it multiplies!
  • Vacuum/sweep
  • Refrigerator cleaned out
  • Trash and recycle taken out
  • Cat
    • Plenty of food, both in the house and accessible
    • Plenty of water
    • Plenty of medication
  • Bills paid, receipts caught up


Leading up to our trip, I start thinking about where I need to go and what I need to pick up before we leave. 

  • Meds and supplements
    • Do we have enough? If not, do I need to:
      • Pick them up from the store
      • Order them
      • Contact the doctor for refills
      • Contact the pharmacy for refills
      • Pick them up from the pharmacy
    • Do I have enough set up in our weekly pill boxes?
    • Do I have enough for the cat?
  • Basic toiletries
    • I review my list to make sure I don’t need anything - right now, I’m running low on deodorant, so I’ll pick that up on my last run to the store
  • Groceries
    • Are we taking snacks for the trip?
      • buying them ahead of time saves time and money over picking them up from a gas station
    • What do we want to bring with us? We’re staying at an Airbnb, so we have a full kitchen. We will be eating out part of the time, but we’ll also cook. Prices everywhere are high, but at least at home, I know what they are, so I like to buy some things before we go.  
      • I like to take my frequently used spices. 
      • I am gluten-free, so there are a few staples that I like to bring so I don’t have to search for them
      • Wine - I have bought much more wine than I have drank, so some of it is going to come with us
      • Recipes if there are specific things that we want to cook
  • Summer skincare - we’re going to be spending some time on the beach and/or pool, so I make sure we have enough sunscreen, aloe, SPF lip balm, hat, etc. 
  • Vacation clothes - do we need anything new?
    • Swimsuit or coverup
    • Shorts, shirts, dresses
    • Shoes
  • Library 
    • Do I have things that I need to return?
    • Or want to pick up to take with me?
  • Car - what needs to be done for it?
    • Car wash - ok, we really don’t do that very often, but I like the thought, and maybe you do it
    • Oil change and fluids checked
    • Tires checked, rotated, new?
    • Jumper cables packed
    • Gas tank full
    • Car cleaned out - all of the stuff that isn’t going with us out of it


I think of this in subcategories - what I want to accomplish leading up to leaving, what I want to bring with me to work on, and what I want to read and do for pleasure.  For me, my work projects are the things that I’m working on in my business, but the same things apply for working at a job.  I went through the same general process when I worked in the office at a hospice agency.

Leading up to it

  • What projects am I working on that I want to finish, or at least reach a certain stopping point?
    • As it gets closer to time to leave, do I need to re-evaluate this? (I have a tendency to want to accomplish A LOT before I take time off. Sometimes a rather unrealistic amount. I like to do a check-in (like I’m doing today) to make sure that I don’t need to re-evaluate my plan and tweak it a bit. 
  • Do I need to set up away messages for anything?
  • What do I have coming up in the days right after returning home? Do I need to do anything to prep for that now?

What I want to bring for work

  • What do I want to do work-wise while I’m gone?
    • I know - it’s a vacation and a lot of people think a complete break is necessary. I prefer to do some work. My creativity and energy are different when I’m in a new location, and working on things I’m passionate about energizes me. I don’t hold myself to the same schedule, and I keep it very flexible. If I don’t feel like doing something, then I don’t. But I like having the tools I need with me in case I really want to dig into something. 
  • If I have appointments or details that are in my paper planner, I take a picture of them or copy them instead of bringing my big planner with me.
  • Do I want to bring a work-related book?

What do I want to bring for fun?

  • Magazines
  • Book for pleasure
  • Journal
  • Cards/games

Pulling it all together

Although I don’t officially start packing until right before I leave, as I work through each of these areas I have most of it worked out. Then it’s just a matter of getting it into bags and loaded up. I’m sure it may look a bit different for you, because you likely don’t think exactly like I do. 

For me, the key to less stress around traveling is developing a process that takes into account not just the trip itself, but the projects and events leading up to it. That, combined with a detailed packing list that I always start from, helps keep me calm, focused, and ready to relax and enjoy!

What are some travel must-haves for you? 

When we feel better, we make better choices.  I’ve got a great tool that you can incorporate into your day that will quickly and efficiently let you see the impact of the choices you're making on how you feel. You can get your free copy at

Until next time, take a deep breath or two and never stop becoming the best version of YOU.


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