The summer season of travel is upon us and while it can be incredibly fun, it can also be stressful. There are many parts of a vacation we cannot control, but being organized before you head out the door will have a major impact on your overall stress as well as your ability to respond to the things that do go wrong.

There are many things to consider when packing for a trip. Where are you going? What kind of transportation are you using? How many people are going? Adults? Children? What is the purpose of your travel? Have you been there before? Can you do laundry? How convenient are the stores? How long will you be gone?

You’ll find a ton of travel checklists online that focus on everything from clothes and sundries to the specifics for business and family trips. There are checklists related to TSA rules and there are even checklists that help you travel with littles. They all focus on the items you’ll need and will often have the categories (carry on, hygiene, briefcase, etc.) Using and keeping a standard list of things you’ll need is extremely helpful so you can track what you need and refer back to it regularly. I keep one for camping as well as road trips and flight-related travel.

TIP: Keep notes as you’re traveling to with ideas on would work better next time or what you might like to bring that you didn’t. You can refer to this list the next time you travel. This is especially helpful when you travel in regular, less frequent intervals. We camp once a year, so I can’t possibly remember what worked and what didn’t once the summer comes around again. I refer to notes from the prior year and adjust the checklist when we get ready to pack.

In addition to a checklist to help you figure out what you want to pack, I recommend planning where you’re packing those items and how you’ll be traveling with them. How will you access them? Who’s in charge of what bags and what items? By planning what you pack by the bag, you can track these things and more. I’ve designed a Travel Worksheet to help you do that.

Here on some tips on using the worksheet to make the most of your packing and planning:

PACKING MINDSWEEP – Once you have a master list of all the items you’d like to pack, separate them out according to people traveling or by stop offs. Decide how you’re going to travel and what you’ll need when. Who’s coming with you? Who needs to access what? What kind of bags and suitcases will you need? For example, when traveling to Disney by plane, I’ll pack suitcases per person in our family and we’ll check those. However, when we are driving by car and staying in hotels before our final destination, I’ll pack a suitcase that has pajamas, clean outfits, and a hygiene bag for those overnights (so we don’t have to bring in all the suitcases).

TRAVEL BAG NUMBERS – Once you have an idea of the bags you’ll use, take your notes from master list and mindsweep and separate out the list by bag. Identify the bag number and the person who will be connected to that bag. This not only helpful for unpacking when you travel, but for packing when you continue on or return. It’s also great for designating responsibility for each bag.

TIP: Keep the worksheet with you when you travel so you can refer back to it. Or make copies and highlight the section of the worksheet that applies to each bag. Use it as a reverse checklist for when you pack to return.

If you have more to list or work through than will fit on one worksheet, or you need to create a main list to start, grab extra paper and attach to this worksheet.

Once you have your bags packed and you’re ready to go, make sure you’re ready with all the confirmations and details you’ll need. One easy way to do that is with electronics. Here are some tips for smartphone users:

  • Declutter your phone, just like you do with bags, purses, and wallets. Remove unused or cloud-saved apps that aren’t necessary for the trips. Download previous pictures, so you’ll have room for more.
  • Take pictures or screenshots of important information, such as email confirmations, luggage tags, and packing checklists. Save them in your favorites to easily access them.
  • When you need to conserve your battery, set the phone to airplane mode.

Safe travels this summer!