Here are some ideas that hopefully go beyond the “packing tips” that you can find everywhere else and will help make your trip run smoothly, especially helpful if you or your family have ADHD.

1) Use your mobile phone’s features. This is my Number One tip. This compact gadget has a world of incredibly useful tools at your fingertips.

* The alarm feature not only can wake you up in the morning, it can provide reminders throughout the day. For example, set it to remind you or family members to take medications, to phone for an airport taxi, or even to remind you that the Country Bear Jamboree begins at 11:00!
* Load your frequent flier numbers, airline flight numbers, reservation numbers and hotel phone/addresses in your contacts list in the event that you misplace your paper copies.
* Take advantage of the currency converter if you’re traveling abroad.
* Use the calculator to figure out tips or gas mileage. You can also add up receipts so you’ll know how much you’re spending.
* Use the camera to snap a photo of your hotel room number, in case you forget it. Pictures can also help you remember landmarks and intersections that include street signs, in case you get turned around in an unfamiliar place. You can snap a photo of a restaurant you’d like to return to later in the day (or even the menu by the restaurant door!). If you have a rental car, take a picture of it. There’s nothing quite like being in the Disney World parking lot and forgetting what car you came in! Ditto for the parking area signs – take a picture of the sign that has your section number or letter or name (are we Goofy?) as well as the number of your car’s parking space. Use your phone’s camera to record the license plate number, too.
* Use the voice mail service to send yourself reminder messages. For example, “Remember to confirm return trip home on Delta Airlines” or, “Don’t forget gift for Aunt Sue, the dog sitter, and the neighbor on the corner that brought dinner when Tom was sick.” You can also link your voice mail to your laptop, so that when you check your emails, your voicemails appear in your Inbox. One free voice mail service you may want to try is:

2) If you plan to fly, it’s no secret that the price will drop two days after you buy the ticket. I highly recommend, which is an airlines fare-checker. Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant (YAPTA) is a free-of-charge website that helps you check airfares for various airlines. It will automatically send you a note if/when the fares drop. (You purchase the ticket on your own.) installs free on your computer. The best news is that it continues checking the fares even after you buy your ticket, and you may be eligible for a refund. (Again, you contact the airline and negotiate the refund on your own.)

3) Create a pre-vacation to-do list that includes the following tasks:

* Stop the newspaper and mail (or arrange for someone to collect them for you).
* Arrange for someone to put out your trash and recycling containers, and to bring them back in after collection.
* Arrange for someone to take good care of your pets (feed and exercise).
* Clean out your fridge, and try not to leave too much in your freezer in case of a power outage while you’re away.
* Unplug appliances.
* Water household plants.
* Mow the grass and leave your yard, or entrance, so that your home will not appear to be abandoned for the time you’ll be away.
* Set motion-detector lights or light timers.
* Turn down the heat or air-conditioning.
* Copy your itinerary and contact information and leave it with someone you trust.

You may think of other items to add to your list that are particular to your family’s needs, or to your work, or to other special circumstances.

Here are a few out-of-the-ordinary items that I pack:

* Pillboxes for holding rings and earrings, stamps, paperclips, safety pins, even pills!
* Mesh laundry bags for hand-washing small items.
* A night-light.
* Extra-large plastic bags, like those from linen and bath stores, to use as laundry bags.
* Small plastic bags, like those from the grocery store, to put shoes in to separate them from clothing.

Again, you probably have some of your own out-of-the-ordinary items that you’ll include on your packing list.
So, start two check-lists: 1) the pre-vacation to-do list and 2) the things-to-pack list. Post them where you and your family members can conveniently add to the lists as you move towards your departure date. Before your trip, you’ll need to review your things-to-pack list and pare it down to absolute essentials.

You’ll be all set for a wonderful vacation. Bon voyage!

Author's Bio: 

Geralin Thomas, CPO-CD is a certified professional organizer specializing in challenges specifically related to chronic disorganization. She is the past President of the North Carolina Chapter of Professional Organizers and an expert on The Clutter Diet (

Geralin lives and practices in Cary, North Carolina. She owns Metropolitan Organizing.