Reduce Summer Travel Stress with a “PAGO” Plan

I joined my wife last weekend in what became a scramble to get out the door for a family pool day. Missing items, forgotten tasks, lost swim goggles — it was an experience filled with stress and one clearly needing organization.

It’s ironic how a relaxing day had the origins of chaos. But, like most parents, we tend to organize our work lives much better than we do our family lives.

So, in the wake of my hectic experience, I sat down with my planner and created a family vacation PAGO (pack and go) plan.

Regardless of your activity this summer, here’s a blueprint for starting your trip with better organization and reduced stress:

1) Make a Pack List:

Having a Pack List can easily eliminate most of your travel stress. Create a list of all the necessary belongings: sunscreen, towels, chairs, tote bag, novel, juice boxes, snacks, band aids, and anything else the weather might require. Now nothing is overlooked, there’s no having to turn back, and there’s no need to buy items you forgot. We could have begun preparing for our family pool trip the night before because all our travel needs were clearly listed.

2) Communicate a plan:

Set your expectations up front. The morning of your trip, write out a simplified version of your daily schedule – this is especially helpful for those of you with 2 or more children. Include your chosen times to leave, to start packing, and to have any meals, and then post it on your refrigerator or bulletin board. This is the PAGO schedule. Communicating your plan for the day keeps everyone on the same page.

3) Delegate responsibilities:

Create a to-do list and assign each member of the family a task, no matter how simple. A child can easily be tasked with finding their swimsuit and goggles. A father’s job can be checking the weather online, even while at work. The key is to make sure they know they are ultimately responsible for this project. A family is a team – Mom shouldn’t handle all the PAGO responsibilities.

4) Establish organization:

As the old saying goes “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Organization cuts down on time wasted while searching for objects and information. Define specific areas where items such as swim goggles and lawn chairs are always stored. For example, hang a low hook in the laundry room and label it “beach towels.” This way, the PAGO process is simplified, and your kids will have an easier time finding their items for the next trip. That’s setting your team up for success.

That’s my game plan going forward which, as in all plans requires follow-through and discipline. But one thing I know is that our pool trips will have a better chance for success.

Do you have a planning process for organizing your family trips? Please share with us by commenting.

5 thoughts on “Reduce Summer Travel Stress with a “PAGO” Plan

  1. Reblogged this on Enough Time Moms Blog | by Day-Timer and commented:
    Where are the swim goggles? Did you remember the sun block? What’s your trick for getting out the door during your summer break?
    Over at the Day-Timer Blog you will find a helpful blueprint for the old “pack-and-go” drill.
    Four steps outline your secret to success.
    Please comment and share how you stay in control of this stressful time.

  2. I keep 2 PAGO bags already packed at all times for travel & outings. One I call the “bathroom bag” all of the standard toiletries (tooth brush, toothpaste, travel size shampoo & body wash, etc)that you need anytime you travel. You can add more specific items just before the trip from your PAGO list. The other is the “beach/swim bag” I keep it packed with sunscreen, lip balm, aloe lotion, insect repellent wipes, sunglasses swim accessoreis) & a couple of beach towels. That way all I have to do is grab & go. I also keep a first aid kit that can go anytime. My sons are grown now & they do this too!
    JBrannan

  3. I have a permanent PAGO plan in my planner. Made a master list and inserted it into a top load paper protector made for my size planner. Any additional items get jotted on a sticky note and posted on the outside of the protector. Never have to worry about what I need not being packed or done.

  4. I travel in an RV in the summer, as my husband and I have a Bluegrass band. I set up a master list in Excel, using columns to check off what is loaded as I load it for each trip. Since we have a refrigerator and freezer, I have another list for food for each trip. I just go down my list for each trip. That also gives me my basic grocery list. It becomes a no-brainer and that greatly reduces my stress. I can use the same lists for general getaway weekend trips, too.

  5. Good ideas, but I would determine the schedule for leaving a few days or a week in advance and post it on the refrigerator. Waiting until the morning of the pool day doesn’t seem designed to relieve stress as well as having the info a few days in advance.

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