Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Traveling with Kids - Week 5 Organization

About 5 weeks before we leave (if not sooner) we purchase a small 3-ring binder. This binder will stay with us throughout our trip.

It's purpose? To help us keep track of all things related to our trip.

I have never before used a binder and I found it to be extremely helpful in keeping us organized. We just kept it in our backpack and pulled it out whenever there was a question or we needed the paperwork. One example is in Berlin. In order to go visit the Freitstag building you must be pre-approved and show the email to them at the entrance. No email no entry. Or the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Tour in London requires pre-purchase of tickets. Using a binder dramatically reduces the stress level when traveling with kids as well as giving parents a peace of mind that everything is there ready to go.

It is helpful to have the following information handy and organized so no one is scrambling during the trip to remember where to go, the hotel name or what day and time we need to be somewhere.

What do I put in the travel binder?

  • Hotel, hostel, resort reservations - in case of mix-ups we have the confirmation with us.
  • Paperwork to pick up transportation cards in other countries - In London the kids get discounted or free travel if we purchase Oyster cards for them at least one month before our travel dates. This is done on-line and then we choose where in London to pick them up when we arrive and what date we will pick them up. Trying to remember all the details without the binder would be difficult because we are trying to remember so many other things at the same time. there are museum passes and city cards that work the same way. 
  • Venue reservations - Because many are pre-purchased it is important to know when we need to be there. We would hate to miss our play in Prague because we weren't organized.
  • Itinerary - Convenient to have an idea of what we would love to see and what else is available to us in the area. 
  • Emergency phone numbers / Insurance information - Friends in the area, family members back home, etc.
  • Hotel addresses and phone numbers - To call a day before to double check the reservation or if we are going to be checking in later than we are suppose to.
  • Receipts - It is so nice to keep track of how much money is being spent. I found that as I researched into how much it would cost our family to do a trip to Europe I found only 1-2 people who actually knew. I find this info helpful in the future to know how much we need to save to go.
  • Budget - Knowing how much we have allocated in each country or for each day alleviates excessive over spending.
After deciding what you are going to keep in your binder, you can start putting everything in it as you go.