First I'll start with this week's travel photo, taken during our recent vacation to Louisiana. Just for fun, I had picked up some little craft painting sets at Target in an after-Christmas sale. I pulled them out on New Year's Eve for my kids and their cousins to have a fun project to do. There were enough little figurines for the adults to participate as well, and when we were finished we even had a "contest" for Most Precise, Most Creative, Biggest Risk Taker, etc., as judged by the adults who hadn't joined in with the painting. Here's a photo of the winners:
Can you guess which one got Best Overall? Answer is at the bottom of this post.
Now on to the topic at hand, how to travel neatly...
This is the single most important clean travel tip I can ever give you:
Whenever you reach the hotel room/condo/etc. where you will be staying, immediately establish "ZONES". These are the various areas where you will be keeping your possessions for the duration of your stay.
For example, when I stay in a hotel room for work purposes, I set up the following zones:
- a KEY ZONE, where I will keep my room key plus any other non-valuable, similar items I'll be carrying around in my pockets, such as pocket change, itinerary, etc.
- a SECURE ZONE, where I'll keep my purse, jewelry, and medications
- an ELECTRONICS ZONE, where I put chargers and equipment for my phone, camera, laptop, Kindle, etc.
- a FOOD ZONE, where I'll keep any snacks and beverages I want to have on hand
- a BEDSIDE ZONE, where I'll put those few things I'll want at bedtime, such as Blistex, dental floss, whatever book I'm currently reading for fun, and a flashlight
- a MAKEUP ZONE, where I'll put my beauty/hair products
- a PAPERS ZONE, where I'll dump any important incoming papers
- a SPORTS ZONE, if I have brought along any sort of equipment such as goggles for the pool, a tennis racquet, etc.
- a DIRTY CLOTHES ZONE, where I'll throw clothing after I've worn it
Even in a small room, it usually isn't too hard to find a separate place for each of the above. Every time I travel, I try to use similar locations for these zones. Thus, even though the various hotel rooms my differ in size and shape, I'll learn the habit of looking to certain areas for the things I need, both when I'm retrieving them to use and when I'm putting them away again. For example, here's the above list of zones, with the rules of thumb I usually follow when choosing where each will go:
- the KEY ZONE is usually on top of or near the television
- the SECURE ZONE is usually inside the room safe, or, if there isn't one, somewhere discreet that your average thief likely wouldn't notice (and that's all I'm sayin' here, haha)
- the ELECTRONICS ZONE is usually on or near the desk. Depending on the number of electrical outlets there, I may have to split this zone into two, moving my camera and phone chargers to a different outlet elsewhere in the room. When that happens, for example if my phone charger is in a plug in the corner, I always follow a handy "reminder" tip so that I don't forget and leave it behind. More about that in a future post!
- the FOOD ZONE is usually on/near/in the fridge, if there is one, or the ice bucket/coffee maker area if there isn't
- the BEDSIDE ZONE is, of course, either on the bedside table, if my trip is a brief one, or in the bedside table drawer, if I'll be staying there for 3+ days
- the MAKEUP ZONE is usually on the bathroom counter or near the best, most well-lit mirror in the room
- the PAPERS ZONE is usually on or near the desk or in my briefcase
- the SPORTS ZONE is usually on the floor of the closet
- the DIRTY CLOTHES ZONE is also usually on the floor of the closet, at the other end, or in an empty suitcase if I happen to have one
Be sure to come back soon so you can learn even more about the zone principle of clean travel.
Answer: Winner for the Best Overall ornament in the photo, above, was the white snowman with the red hat in the center, 5th from the left, which was painted by my very talented niece Sarah! (If you're curious, mine is 2nd from the right.)