Packing organizers can save time as well as sanity by making it easier to pack. Some can even help keep your packed items organized and easily accessible while you’re away.
Here are three different types of extremely effective packing organizers:
- Packable Shelves is a compact polyester organizer consisting of two open shelves and one zippered shelf, designed to fit inside a 21-inch carry-on suitcase and also hang on a closet rod. To pack, you simply hang the shelves in your closet or over the back of a door, then place your clothes, shoes and toiletry kit on the shelves. Then you drop the Packable Shelves, clothes and all, into your suitcase. When you arrive at your destination, unpacking is a breeze–just lift the organizer up from the suitcase and hang it in the closet or over the door. Your clothes stay organized and ready to wear.
- The Pack This! Checklist Notepad is a 6 x 9-inch pad of 60 pre-printed sheets, each providing a comprehensive categorized checklist that’s a thorough inventory of what to pack. It lists everything from specific items of clothing and toiletries to travel aid and documents so you won’t have to worry about forgetting anything you might need while you’re traveling. The ultimate reminder list for travelers, the notepad even has slots at the top for Destination, Days, Special Events and Local Weather, and includes ideas for necessities you might not have thought of.
- Mesh Packing Envelopes are moisture-resistant, semi-sheer zippered cases that let you easily pack and organize all types of small items, from toiletries to receipts. The set of seven includes a variety of sizes ranging from 6 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches up to 13 x 10 inches. The PVC mesh material makes the contents viewable so you can pass through security checkpoints with minimal inconvenience.
For more packing tips, read my post on travel toiletry organizers.
Board games are such fun…right up until it’s time to put them away. Corralling all those pesky little game pieces and cards–not to mention the boards themselves–can take the fun out of game night.
Whether your game collection consists of crumbling cardboard containers housing your heirloom Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit games, or you’ve got mainly display-worthy game boxes, there are several simple solutions for keeping your board games in order. Here are three types of handy and helpful board game organizers:
- When it’s time to replace those old cardboard game boxes, sturdy plastic Game Savers storage containers are a good choice. Specifically designed to hold board games such as Monopoly, Life and games of similar size and contents, these organizers feature dividers to keep the game pieces organized, pre-printed game labels, and a snap lid (especially useful when traveling or camping). They fit game boards up to 15.75 x 10.5 x .5 inches, the size of a single folded rectangular board.
- You can “file” smaller game boxes by storing them upright in a cabinet, using a wire bakeware rack to keep them neatly separated and easy to access.
- If you prefer to stack your games, the Black A-Frame Shelf features three shelves sized for storing and displaying many types of boxed board games (each shelf is 30 x 15 inches). You can stack up to five game boxes on each shelf.
Nowadays there are multiple types of car organizers available for each area of your auto: glove compartment, seats, dashboard, visor, floor, doors, and trunk. Some have a specific purpose (such as sunglasses holders that clip onto windshield visors and notepad-and-pen systems that attach to the dashboard), while others are more versatile, such as:
- The Trunk Organizer with Cooler has three roomy compartments for typical trunk stuff plus a removable cooler that can be used separately–great for groceries, picnics or travel.
- The Automobile Catch-All Organizer makes it easy to store and access all the usual front-seat clutter culprits. It has a roomy storage section with a movable divider on the inside and mesh pockets on the outside.
To help prevent your vehicle from filling up with discardable debris, I recommend keeping easy-to-use car trash containers handy in both the front- and backseat areas. Trash receptacles come in two styles: stay-open and closable. Which type you choose depends on the types of trash you create — and in which area. For example, let’s say food-related discards regularly create compost in the backseat. A sealable container that attaches to the back of a front seat (facing the backseat) may be a good solution. If papers or other trash pile up in the front seat, an open-topped minibin that sits between the seats or on the floor may be the best bet.
But no matter how wonderful your trash-stashers are, they’ll quickly become useless if you’re not in the habit of dumping out their contents frequently. So establish a regular ritual: Each time you stop to get gas, take a moment to empty the trash.
The best way to maintain an organized, clutter-free car is to move stuff out of it. To lighten your load, adopt this simple strategy: At least once a week, remove everything that doesn’t belong in your vehicle.
Just make sure all that stuff doesn’t end up in your garage.
There’s no place like home, as Dorothy famously proclaimed while returning from her “travels” to Oz. Of course, Dorothy was lucky to come home to a place where everything was in place, even after a tornado. But for many returning travelers, the happiness of homecoming is tainted by the dread of facing a mess that was left behind in the frantic whirlwind of departure.
And even if you aren’t in the habit of leaving your home in disarray when you head off on a trip, it’s common to return with a certain amount of clutter in your baggage. Let’s face it–no matter where you go, it’s hard to get away from paper even with all the current electronic options. Tickets, checklists, brochures, receipts, maps, notes, postcards…these are the ingredients of “travel piles.”
So, whether you tend to leave your vacation mess at home or carry it with you, here are some tips to help you come home to calm instead of chaos:
- Include “housecleaner” in your travel budget. If possible, schedule an appointment for a housecleaning service to clean your home within two days before your departure date. This will force you to get your house in order–and on time, too. That old saying about “cleaning up before the maid comes” actually describes a useful process: clearing clutter off of most horizontal surfaces makes it easier to clean them quickly and thoroughly. This is true whether you get a housecleaner or do all the cleaning yourself.
- Transform disorder to “dis-odor.” Don’t worry about making sure everything’s in apple pie order before you leave. What’s more important is to get rid of those leftover apples. Plan to banish any potentially odor-producing items ahead of time. Typical sources of smelliness include forgotten fruit left to molder on a kitchen counter, wet laundry mildewing in the washing machine, dirty dishes in the sink, an un-run garbage disposal, un-emptied kitchen trash pail and, of course, the “fridge from outer space” filled with mysterious furry substances. (Note: Pet owners and parents of babies obviously have additional areas to address.)
- Prepare for the paper trail. A few simple, inexpensive supplies will make it easier to keep papers organized during your travels. Transparent envelopes in different sizes and colors, sheer document folders (also in various colors) and clear plastic page protectors can help you separate or categorize the seemingly inevitable accumulation. Unlike opaque envelopes and folders, these products allow you to see contents at a glance. A pad of small Post-it notes or some self-adhesive tags are also useful for creating temporary labels.
- Make packing and unpacking easier. Travel accessories such as packable shelves (designed to fit inside a 21-inch carry-on suitcase and then hung on a closet rod) can save time as well as sanity by keeping your packed items organized and easily accessible while you’re away, and easier to unpack when you get back home.
But if the mere thought of packing–or the expense of travel–are more than you can handle, a “staycation” could be what you really need. Check back next Friday for tips on making your backyard into an oasis of order for your home vacation.
Giving your guests a comfortable place to sleep requires more than just a bed and bedding. It’s thoughtful to provide some type of nightstand or bedside surface for holding eyeglasses, tissues or other necessities within easy reach. Keep in mind that a standard-size night table may be too high for lower guest beds such as trundles and air mattresses.
Storage stools, hassocks and ottomans combine seating and storage functions at just the right height for guest night stands. The Striped Gamer Ottoman is a good example–it has a lift-off lid and multiple storage compartments, so you can use it for hiding away whatever you might pile on the sofa bed during guest-free times.
A more classic option that combines a night-table surface with hidden storage is this Walnut Storage Table .
A three-shelf rolling cart can be rolled wherever it’s needed, doing double-duty for guests by serving both as a night stand and a place to stash toiletry kits, cosmetic cases and personal items.
Magazine tables — the kind with a flat surface above an area designed for storing publications upright — are another perennially useful multipurpose furnishing. Small and unassuming, this type of table works well day-to-day almost anywhere to keep your reading materials handy, and then instantly transforms into a guest night-stand. The Dakota Wave End Table, designed specifically to hold magazines, is an interesting variation on this theme.
After your guests have left, you may feel ready for a vacation yourself. Check back next Friday for tips on how to get organized for traveling!