With the enjoyment and busyness of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations behind us, we are now entering that time of year when I start to get antsy for a vacation. There aren’t any major holidays for a few months and though I definitely love the winter weather, there are times when I feel like getting a quick dose of summer in the middle of the season. With no vacations on the horizon and our trailer winterized until spring, now is the time to start planning ahead, getting prepared and giving myself a vacation to look forward to. By taking the time now to secure a location, get a jump start on my packing list and update the trailer’s inventory, I can then look forward to our vacation with ease knowing it’s all taken care of.

Booking Your Location

To plan your vacation, you obviously first need to select a time and location. With State Parks and popular campsites filling up months in advance now is the time to start booking your trip. State Parks have already opened for reservations and though it’s sometimes hard to plan so far ahead, if you don’t you’ll be wishing you had. Last year my husband and I got our trailer at the start of the summer and trying to find open sites was a challenge. When we did find openings, many didn’t offer hook ups and you couldn’t find an open site with consecutive days. Take a few minutes to look at your calendar and get this booked as soon as possible. When you book far enough in advance you have your choice of sites so you can pick your favorite spot rather than being stuck next to the bathrooms. Friends of ours have picked their favorite site along the water and vacation there so frequently they call it their beachfront property.

Washington State Parks Reservations

Oregon State Park Reservations

Another thing to keep in mind when booking your location is to plan according to your interests. If you want to go searching for shellfish, remember to check what days are open for crabbing, clamming, etc. Also, you may want to look online or purchase a booklet on the tides where you’re vacationing. While you’re at it make sure to buy any passes you may need for your trip such as a state parks or discover passes, fishing or shellfish licenses, etc. Keep these in your trailer or vehicle ahead of time so you don’t chance forgetting them.

Plan and make reservations based on the things you like to do & check to see if licenses are needed


Don’t wait until the last minute to make your packing list. Making your list ahead of time gives you the chance to slow down and think things through, reducing your chance of forgetting important or helpful items. We’ve started keeping a master copy of our packing list and it has been an amazing help and a great time saver. (Printable copies included below). On the list write out some basic categories, include items you always or often need, make your list individualized for each family member and remember to include some blank lines. Typing your list in a document is great because it keeps things clean and allows you to easily edit throughout the years if needed. When your trip approaches simply print off or make a copy of your list. Cross off any items that you don’t need and write in any additional items required for your specific trip (ex: cold or warm weather gear, sporting equipment, etc.) in the blank lines provided. This will enable you to get your packing done quickly and completely without being left thinking “I feel like I’m forgetting something.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve said that to myself in the past. I once heard it said that by cutting down the number of decisions you need to make in a day you can accomplish so much more in the same amount of time. You’ll appreciate the time it saves not having to create the same list over and over for every vacation. Putting in a little time upfront to create your master packing list will help you minimize the time it takes to get out the door and on the road.

Make a Master Checklist of Things to Pack

Checking Inventory

In your efforts to be adequately prepared for upcoming vacations, don’t forget to do a quick inventory check in your trailer. Now’s the time to check that stock of toilet paper, soap, salt, etc. Do a brief once over of all your consumable items refilling each item as needed. Make sure to keep in mind the number of days you’ll be gone in case you need to increase your normal inventory supply. It’s also a good time to make sure everything has been returned to it’s proper place. Those sheets or dishes that you brought in the house to wash after your last vacation, those coats or shoes that you were wearing after your last trip. Taking the time now to review those things will save you the headache of rushing to do them as you’re trying to hustle when vacation time comes. Once you’ve ensured everything is in place, making a little effort to freshen things up will start you off on the right foot for a relaxing experience. So take the time now to make up the beds, set out new towels, or quickly wipe out the refrigerator. Once you leave the house you’ve earned the right to be in vacation mode and don’t need extra chores getting in your way.

Replace the things you brought in after your last trip

I hope these simple preparations will keep you at bay until your next departure knowing you’ve put in a little work upfront so you can be ready for a relaxing getaway. With your vacation booked, your packing list made, and your trailer inventory in fresh supply you can enjoy the benefits of a well-prepared vacation without all the stress. Who said vacation planning had to be exhausting. I wish you the best of luck as you get ready for your next adventure.

Don’t forget to check out your free printable master packing lists - His, Hers, and Baby’s

Emily Helgeson
Author: Emily Helgeson
Emily Helgeson lives with her husband and son in Eastern Washington. They enjoy adventuring together and are learning how to use their RV to continue this lifestyle with their growing family.

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