4 Lists for Stress-Free Travel

Willis Tower / Sears TowerMy recent trip to Chicago reminded me just how important having a list is when traveling. I know it sounds super nerdy – but doing a little homework before you leave will guarantee an easy and stress-free journey. I usually start crafting up my lists a week in advance (or more if I’m really excited about the trip!).

These are the 4 travel lists I NEVER leave home without:

1. Itinerary

This is an itemized list of everything you will do on your trip. Run through each day in your mind and visualize what you’ll be doing. Then write down a brief description or note about each event. That way you can prepare by making reservations, packing the appropriate clothes and making the most of the time you have at your destination.

2. Packing List

Probably the most important list you can make before you leave on a trip is the packing list. It is an inventory of absolutely everything you will need while you’re away. And I mean everything! That means you must write down things like toothbrush, eyeglasses and wallet. It seems like a no brainer – like you’ll never forget these things, right? You will because you have a million other things going on in your life. Be safe and write them down anyway so you can check them off your list.

Consider what activities you will be doing on your trip and what the weather will be like. I use my itinerary along with the packing list and I pack by outfit. That way I don’t over pack. Well not usually, at least.

I also make a “last minute” packing list. That includes all the stuff you need to pack right before you leave – like your boarding passes or your sunglasses.

3. Restaurant List

I’ve wandered around too many cities and ended up in too many bad restaurants to not make a restaurant list every time I travel. It will save you time and money spent on subpar meals, and you won’t find yourself having to take out a
personal loan to finance the rest of your trip.

I always research using Yelp.com, Menupages.com and the Zagat Guide. I also ask friends and family for recommendations. You can even ask your Facebook friends or twitter tweeps. Is that even what they’re called? Regardless – you’ll be happy you did. Hang on to the names of your favorite places for the next time you’re in town.

My trip to see Oprah was so much better because we ate at phenomenal restaurants. Add these to your “Chicago Restaurant List:” The Purple Pig, The Girl & The Goat and Riccardo Trattoria.

4. Sightseeing List

I always make a wish list of the places I’d like to visit before leaving the city. I add the ones I’ll have time for to my itinerary and make sure each attraction will be opened during the time I’m visiting. This is important – you don’t want to show up and get turned down.

Doing some research on tripadvisor.com or another city guide will help you figure out exactly what the destination has to offer. Sometimes I even go to the bookstore or library and thumb through travel books for recommendations. Of course, I take my reporter’s notebook and take notes so I don’t forget anything I’ve read.

Having a list of all the spots you want to hit will help you to be more efficient with your time. That way you will get to do more of the things you love on this trip!

Happy traveling!

8 replies
  1. Maude
    Maude says:

    It is hard to find educated persons on this subject topic, but you sound like you are aware of exactly what you are posting about! Appreciate it

  2. Zoe
    Zoe says:

    So funny because I do this too! I create what I call a “Cheat Sheet” for expeditions I go on with Chris (The Medicine Hunter) but also any industry events we go to together. People have learned about these lists and even ask me to send them a copy! I put everything on it, like you do. Not just by day/date but by general time (specific if I have it!) and key phone numbers, flight numbers, booth numbers for trade shows… you get the picture. You know what they say: “If you want to make God/Goddess laugh, make plans!” I totally agree this is true, and it seems that’s what happened to you at Oprah… that said, what my Cheat Sheets do for me is give me the illusion of order in chaos, and it also makes quick shifting of plans so much easier, because I have a structured base to work with.

    Love your blog, Paula! It makes me feel I’m not alone in this obsession…


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] I always make a brand new packing list for every trip. Some people keep a template of items they use often but for me I like to start from scratch and really customize my list.  Having the list helps to make my trip less stressful. […]

  2. […] handy when trying to narrow down your choices. Once you pick your destination check out my list for stress-free travel as […]

  3. […] to looking for restaurants.  I make a restaurant list whenever I go to a new city. (Check out my Chicago picks.)  By doing a little research beforehand — you end up with a delicious experience! Share […]

  4. […] us with a slew of list making tips at her site The List Producer, from the hows and whys of a travel list, moving list, a grocery list (no more rotting food in your kitchen!), and […]

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