I don't know about everyone else, but I know that for me a vacation is not truly a vacation. As a wife, mom, and homemaker, I spend hours preparing and packing for our trip, hours in the car keeping everyone sane (putting on movies, handing out snacks, and entertaining Luke), hours setting up shop for the week (putting away food, kitchen supplies, clothes, and toys), hours still cooking meals, cleaning up, and getting everyone whatever they need for each outing, hours cleaning up the place when we are done, hours in the car again, and then hours unpacking, doing laundry, and getting us ready for life when we get home. Does that sound familiar to any of you guys?
Well because I am so OCD and have to have order no matter where I am - home, hotel, or beach house - I have to be really organized. It does make things run a lot smoother and I do get a little more down time as the crew knows where everything is and can [sometimes] fend for themselves.
It all starts a few days before we leave for our vacation. I do all of the laundry and clean up the house. It makes things a lot easier when you have clothes to pack and a clean house to go through and get what you need. I also have a packing list on my computer that I print each time we go somewhere. I print it out the day we pack and tweak it. I add things that need to be packed in addition to all of our regular stuff. That saves me so much time and headache. There is nothing worse than getting somewhere and not having underwear or a toothbrush.
Then when it comes to packing, I use lots of different bags and bins. I like to organize things so that we can put bags or bins in their respective spot when we arrive at our destination. I use one bag for Luke's clothes and personal care items, one bag for my clothes and personal care items, one bag for Lee's clothes and personal care items, one bag for towels and sunscreen - my pool bag, one bag for beach toys as they get sandy and I like to keep them in a mesh bag to carry down to the beach, one bag for Luke's toys, one bin for dry food, one bin for kitchen needs, a big cooler for food when we get there, a small cooler for drinks in the car, and one bag for snacks and toys for the car. Yes, it seems like a lot, but it really isn't. It's more organized than cramming stuff in a bunch of bags.
I pack each area/bag/bin and bring it all to a certain spot so that Lee can load it all in the car. This way he sees how much we have and how he should load everything up. If you have stuff all over the house, you might have something heavy that ends up on top or have to take stuff out and reload. This saves time and frustration.
When we get to our destination, we can just put each person's bag where they are sleeping, they toys/entertainment in the area where we will be hanging out/playing, the beach/pool stuff near the door so we are ready to go at a moment's notice, and the food and kitchen stuff in the kitchen. It is really nice. It also makes it possible to not have to unpack as stuff is where you need it.
When we get done with our vacation, we just load everything back up, repack the car, and when we get home, we just put stuff back where it goes pretty efficiently. One note - when we are packing to come home, we pick a couple of suitcases to put all the dirty stuff in and one to put all of the clean stuff in (inevitably we pack too much). The dirty suitcases go to the laundry area and the clean suitcase is unpacked. Super easy.
I hope this helps. Enjoy your vacations. :)