There was a time in my life when a four month long trip across continents would cause me to spend an hour or so chucking things in my suitcase the night before departure. These days - no. These days I arm myself with checklists and spreadsheets and start planning months in advance.
Admittedly, this trip is the most planning-intensive to date, and for good reason. There's the fact that we're going to be gone for over five weeks instead of our usual three, we'll be visiting three countries this time (more on that later), and of course we will be traveling with a 14-month old. And let's be honest, there's not much that has occupied my mind more than how to successfully travel with a person who is prone to willfully putting himself in dangerous situations, primarily communicates about books, ducks and animal sounds, will only sleep in his bed and expresses displeasure by screaming at the top of his lungs. Yes, a lot of thought has gone into how to keep him comfortable and happy for the three flights and 16 hours or so it will take us to get there.
At this point, my planning has reached the list making stage. I like to break things down into a few categories:
- Things to do: This involves everything from the absolutely essential like "figure out how to get to the airport and back" to the more mundane and obvious like "place mail on hold" or "clean out fridge". Basically, if it has to be done before we leave, it goes on the list.
- Things to buy: Snacks for Espen, chocolate chips for my sister-in-law, a flag for Cheryl (!), whatever things we're bringing for family and friends, or will need while we're gone. Thankfully, the new iPad made the list :)
- Things to pack: This category is all about making sure we have the essentials, and making sure we have them in the right bag in the right spot. And yes, Espen's carry-on is the most essential of all! :) I don't really worry about making lists of outfits in detail for the three of us, I just make sure that we can all make it through our longest side-trip without having to do laundry.
I sit down once to get each list started, then keep them handy so we can add or check off items as we go. It may seem like a semi-psychotic way to go, but for someone like me who frets and worries, it makes it so much more manageable to get it down on paper. And for pure organizational triumph, nothing beats a good old-fashioned checklist. Or three.
Me and the trusty green notebook - keeper of lists.