Travel Strategies From Military Mom Susan Santoro of Organized31
By Spencer Selhi
Most people would likely agree that military moms know a thing or two about organizing. As a veteran myself, I know what it's like to pick-up and quickly make a home in a new location. Susan Santoro, though, takes it to a whole new level. Susan has moved into and out of over 25 homes, and as a member of NAPO, she has the organizing credentials to back-up her experience.
Given her professional organizer credentials, I asked Susan about some of the things she does to ensure her trips go smoothly. Not surprisingly, she says it all starts with planning. "I begin planning my packing about two weeks before departure. I check weather forecasts, my itinerary and amenities at my hotel to plan what I need to take. I also use travel checklists to make sure I don't forget any key items."
To make packing and unpacking easier, Susan makes extensive use of packing cubes.
Susan saves precious time while traveling by organizing all her outfits and personal items in packing cubes before departure. "I love using packing cubes. They allow me to pack items together so that they make sense for my trip. Most often, I pack every item for each day in separate packing cubes. Each day I know exactly what I need and don't have to dig around looking for individual pieces of the outfit."
This strategy pays big dividends when you're tired. "When I'm jet-lagged, the packing cubes also make it quick and easy to unpack at my destination. I simply place each packing cube in the drawers or closet. I put the dirty clothes back in the cube at the end of the day so no items get misplaced or lost during the trip."
Another strategy Susan employs is structure. Whenever she's away from home, she uses structure to stay organized throughout her journey. "I'm very structured in where I keep items so that I never misplace them." For example, she always keeps items in the same pockets in her travel bag. "I also use smaller zippered utility bags (or Ziploc bags) to hold categories of items, like one for tech gadgets, one for snacks, [and] one for receipts or travel documents. This prevents individual items from getting lost in the chaos of a bag or suitcase, and of travel."
Using structure also saves her time, as she always knows exactly where every item is no matter which hotel, state, country or timezone she is in.
When traveling, there are always a few items Susan likes to keep nearby. "I always travel with a nightlight (I don't like waking up in a strange place and not knowing immediately where I am) and eye drops." She also likes to travel with a set of paper cups so she doesn't have to rely on unsanitary hotel glasses.
Do you like these tips? Have any of your own? Share your ideas in the comments section below, or send us a quick note: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Santoro is a professional organizer and founder of Organized 31. She's also a veteran and mother of three children, a dog and leopard gecko. Her husband is on active duty which means she's moved a lot. Susan has moved into over 25 homes and, at one point, moved five times in six years.