Archive for the ‘Organized Travel’ Category

Organizing Your Car – The Essential Spring Cleaning Guide

Friday, March 21st, 2014

So many of us feel like we “live in our cars,” yet we don’t pay nearly as much attention to maintaining them as we do our homes. Now that spring is finally in sight, it’s time to wash all signs of winter off our vehicles. You can get your car organized, too, with these tips for bringing the fresh start of spring-cleaning outside to your ride.

If you’re a person who enjoys getting in some outdoor physical activity and saving a few bucks at the same time, then you may be familiar with the DIY carwash routine. Whether you do it yourself or bring your car to the pros, once you’ve got the outside washed and the paintjob shining, follow these easy steps to get an organized interior to match:

Gather a few baskets or bins for inside your car, and a few more for the trunk; small individual containers with lids work best. And you’ll need a visor-clipped CD holder (if that’s how you roll). Next, remove everything from the interior or the car that isn’t tied down and throw away all garbage. Go through whatever is left, and determine what needs to be kept in your car, and what should be stored elsewhere. Use the bins to carry those items inside your home or office, returning them back to their original storage location.

Sort and group everything that is to be returned to your car into the following suggested categories:

  • Emergency roadside supplies: first-aid kit, jumper cables, flashlight, etc.
  • Sports gear for your regular gym visits or scheduled games
  • CDs, kids’ toys
  • Occasional items: a blanket, umbrella, reusable grocery bags
  • Essential items: pens, paper, tissues, hand sanitizer, vital records (registration, insurance)

Start by organizing the prime real estate that is your glove compartment. This space should be reserved for your most important items, and kept clear of clutter, so you never have to dig for the following items when you need them:

  • Proof of insurance and car registration
  • Car’s owners manual
  • Garage door opener
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Small flashlight
  • Pen and paper

If you have a center console, you can use it to stash personal items such as tissues, hand sanitizer, gum, and a coin purse with loose change. Use one of the lidded container or a zipped pouch to organize smaller items, so they don’t migrate into cracks and crevices.

There’s a fine line between having what you need on hand and getting overrun by STUFF! Keep clutter at bay by setting boundaries: allow your kids two items (OK, maybe three) each and store them in a designated tote, seat back or door pocket, where they can be easily accessed. Similarly, set limits on your non-essential items, and put a cap on the number of CDs you carry in the car at any given time. Better yet, just use your mobile phone to play music and ditch the CDs all together.

Items that can be stowed neatly in a bin or basket that will be returned to the interior of your car include occasional items like an extra baseball hat or umbrella, and a collection of reusable grocery bags for any impromptu shopping trips. Use the remaining bins to keep your trunk in order, separating roadside assistance and emergency items like jumper cables and flares from gym bags and sports gear.

As with any area of your home that you wish to keep organized, the best way to maintain a newly organized space is a little at a time. Each time you stop for gas, take a few minutes while the pump is on to gather any collected trash and toss it! Then make it a habit to spend five minutes at the end of the week to remove any items that don’t belong in your car and put them away in their proper place. Make sure whatever remains has a designated bin or bag it belongs in.

Extending your spring organizing efforts to your vehicle will help you get jump on the season. If you have any tips for keeping your car clutter under control, please share them in the comments below.

Planning Your Spring Break Road Trip

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

When you’re thinking about getting away this spring but the idea of air travel is less than enticing, remember that there is no better way to see this beautiful country than by taking to its almost 47,000 miles of highway. You may prefer to getaway on your own; just you, alone, on the open road, or perhaps your ideal road trip involves a convertible overflowing with friends, or a mini-van with just you, your spouse and kids. Whomever you choose to travel with, there are a few things to consider if you want to ensure that a good time is had by all.

Get together with your travel buddies to discuss the timing of your trip. Once you have mutually agreeable dates, determine how far you can travel in the allotted time by rolling out a map and perusing it together. Pinpoint all your potential destinations based on the criteria that matter most to you: budget, desirable driving distance per day, people or places you may want to visit, or attractions you’d like to see.

With countless places worth visiting in the US, deciding where you want to go will help you determine the best way to get there. There are plenty of sites like Expedia, Booking, Hotels, and so on, that will help you book your rental car and accommodations, while offering insights into each location and the best places to eat, visit, and shop there. For a road trip, however, there are a few sites that can take your planning to the next level. When you’re choosing your destination, RoadtripUSA is a great place to start, offering a detailed view of eleven classic US driving routes, from coast to coast, and from Canada to Mexico.

When considering your budget, lodging and meals are the categories with the most flexibility. Decide whether you want to camp out, crash with friends, “rough it” in bargain basement motels, book on AirBnB, or experience a different luxury hotel in each city you pass through. Mark off your intended accommodations for each night and adjust your budget accordingly. And if you want to avoid subsisting on fast food and gas stations snacks, checkout TVFoodMaps for the Food Network’s guide to great eats nationwide.

Unless budget is of no concern, it’s a good idea to consider every possible expense, starting with the big three: gas, food and lodging. TravelMath is a website that will help you assess the cost versus time for each route option for you, while FuelMyRoute will help you find the cheapest places along your chosen route to fill up your tank.

Once you’re on the road, having a GPS is a great and comforting resource, but it should not replace your paper maps. In fact, it’s best to print out everything before you go – directions, reservation information, rental car info, etc. – so you don’t have to rely on available cell signals or WiFi to find what you need. Create a binder with all your travel details and put the pages in order of your journey. Also, make sure to sign up for AAA or an equivalent nationwide roadside assistance program.

Lastly, be sure to add these essential items to your packing list, both for road safety, as well as for the pleasure and comfort of your passengers:

  • MP3 and DVD players, along with headphones or ear buds
  • A blanket, football, Frisbee, etc., so you’re prepared for an impromptu picnic lunch
  • A cooler and freezer packs to keep snacks and beverages handy
  • Bathroom tissue, garbage bags, and Wet Wipes to make it a bit more comfortable when nature calls and you’re in the middle of nowhere
  • A first aid kit with all the basics for minor injuries, headaches and car sickness
  • Small pillows and a blanket or two for anyone who needs to catch some shuteye
  • A couple of flashlights and extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • A spare tire and jack
  • A second set of car keys

Once you have your companions, budget, route, destination and supplies sorted out, the best thing about a road trip is the feeling of freedom it conjures, because with the planning taken care of, there’s nothing to worry about but having a good time.

Have you ever taken a truly fantastic road trip? How about the one you wish you’d never taken? Please share your experiences in the comments below, and let us know your best tips for planning an epic, awesome road trip this spring. And, next time you see me, ask about my moving myself from Kansas City to Washington, DC. #Nightmare

Professional Organizers Recognized For Excellence in Los Angeles

Thursday, February 19th, 2009
January was a busy month.  I spent time traveling to California to work with my clients who live there.   While in California, I had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles.  The National Association of Professional Organizers, Los Angeles Chapter on January 30, 2009 hosted the 4th Annual Los Angeles Organizing Awards.  This red-carpet event was held at the beautiful Luxe Hotel off Sunset Boulevard in Bel Air, CA and sponsored by Office Depot.
Best described by NAPO-LAThe Awards recognizes the best in the professional organizing industry. Professional organizers who set the standard for home and business productivity will be acknowledged for their accomplishments, along with those products and services that help consumers and businesses organize anything and everything.”
I had a great trip to LA for the Awards.  During the day, I had the opportunity to lunch with the Northeast Organizing Diva, Krista Colvin who was a finalist for Best Organizing Blog, Organizing in Style.  That evening, once everyone was dressed to the nines, everyone had their red-carpet moment.  After having my photo taken, I enjoyed cocktails with NAPO-NY’s Past President Janine Sarna Jones, Organizing Expert and Life Coach on “Dr. Phil Show” Dorothy Breininger, David Bertnick, President of The International Association for Private Service Professional and NAPO‘s President, Standolyn Robertson.
TV Personality and Stand-up Comedian Hal Sparks was the emcee.  He kicked off the evening by ‘losing’ his jokes.  After emptying each suit pocket, he found the jokes stored in a plastic baggie, appropriately labeled ‘Jokes’.  Each joke was numbered and organized.  Hal has worked with a Professional Organizer in the past, so he created the perfect spoof to kick-off the Awards Ceremony.  Hal was a great hit and a wonderful addition to the evening.

Other celebrities in attendance Sam Saboura, Jodie Watson, Gia Russo of Real Simple, Real Life, and Brady Bunch childhood celebrity, Christopher Knight aka Peter Brady now of Green Plug.

Congrats to each individual and company for their recognition.  For a complete list of those nominated visit the official nominee list on the NAPO-LA Organizing Awards website.  Below is a complete list of the award winners.  Please check out their websites and products – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
And the winners are:
Best Organizing Product Retailer
Best Closet Design Firm
California Closets
Best Garage Design Firm
The Green Award for Most Eco-Friendly Organizing Service
No Wire Hangers
The Green Award for Most Eco-Friendly Organizing Product
Bamboo Laptop Stand from KangaRoom Storage
Best Office Organizing Product
Shelf Conversions by ShelfGenie
Best Home Organizing Product
Shelf Conversions by ShelfGenie
Most Helpful Organizing Technology
Microsoft Outlook
Best National Organizing Television Show
Real Simple. Real Life.
Best Publication Featuring Organizational Information
Real Simple Magazine
Best Organizing Website or Blog
Most Valuable Educational Resource
At the Awards ceremony hosted by the NAPO-LA Chapter, individual members of their Chapter and LA-based organizations were recognized for their achievements in their profession, their volunteerism, and service to the professional organizing industry.
Best Organizer as Coach or Mentor
Jean Furuya, The Office Jeanie
Most Innovative Organizer
John Trosko, OrganizingLA
Most Supportive or Organizer-Friendly Charity
National Council of Jewish Women
Volunteer of the Year Award
Heidi Chianta, Your Project Manager
The Leading Edge Award
John Trosko, OrganizingLA
The Office Depot Special Recognition Award
Stephen Covey

My iPhone Saved Me Over A Thousand Dollars!

Friday, July 25th, 2008

I recently had drama with US Airlines while trying to return home from my vacation, but my iPhone saved the day and a huge amount of cash.

I tried to check-in for my flight online the day before my return flight but received an error message saying the system was unable to process my login and to call US Air. If you’ve ever called US Air customer service, you know this is not a pleasant experience. Their customer service is outsourced to locations outside the US. When I finally reached a representative, she explained that the number of people allowed to check in online had been reached, thus requiring me to check in at the airport. The agent said this was due to a T.S.A. regulation. I believe you save time at the airport, if you check-in online. Although I had not heard this maximum number of people reached rule before, I could only believe what she suggested and planned to check in at the self-service kiosks in the morning.

I arrived at Miami International Airport around 6:30 AM and walked directly to a kiosk. Using my reservation confirmation code, the computer could not find my reservation. I tried to pull it up with my flight numbers and last name–still nothing! I grabbed my bags and headed for the short line to speak to a human. Well, wouldn’t you know it, they were having computer problems. Although there were only three people in line, it took almost 25 minutes before I reached an agent. It’s now 7:20 AM and I’m leaving at 8:15 AM. The rather frazzled-looking agent looked for my name in the computer. Within seconds she found me and said my flight had been canceled. She told me there were still seats available and that she could get me on the flight, but wanted to find out why my seat was canceled.

She started talking about change fees of $150 and paying the full fare for the flight, which was hundreds more on top of the change fee. The US Air agent then told me my flight was canceled because the computer reported it was on the 16th, not the 17th. Now, I may be blond, but I do check details, especially when spending hundreds of dollars on a flight. I knew there was a glitch in their system.

I pulled out my Macbook and looked in my email for the US Air receipt, but realized it was on my home iMac. Since the airport doesn’t offer free WiFi, I couldn’t use the ‘Go to my Mac’ feature on Leopard OS X. I was starting to sweat, thinking she was going to charge me over $1000 to fly home. I asked her to waive the charges, because I was certain the computer was wrong and I was correct. She promptly told me that was not possible, as there was no way for her to override the system.

Racking my brain, I finally realized
I had my new 3-G iPhone in my pocket. I pulled it out, went to the US Air web site using the Safari web browser that comes on the phone. I was able to log in, pull up my travel schedule and prove to her that yes, I was right–my travel was on the 17th! So, the iPhone saved me over $1000.00. It was amazing how she was able to suddenly override those charges when she learned I was right.
Because this process took an hour from my arrival, I lost my original seat and the flight was full. I firmly yet politely insisted she put me on the flight, because I purchased my ticket long ago and it was their system error. I ended up in the back of the plane, sandwiched in a middle seat between two very large men. One guy joked how he “should either fly first class or loose 100 lbs.” I thought he should give me $100 because he was sitting in at least that much of my seat.

So, lesson learned. Do print out those confirmation emails (just recycle them when you’re home) and have an iPhone so you can have instant internet access to save your ass from US Air’s faulty reservation system. Having the iPhone paid for itself that day, three or four times over.

Marriott, Toilet Paper, and Excess

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Can you ever been so organized that it is too much?  Do you know anyone who has labeled everything in their house?  Personally I think you can go too far with a label machine and today I learned the Marriott is label happy.

I arrived at the Marriott Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida and had some time to relax.  So, I was taking my time to unpack my belongings.  As I was arranging my toiletries in the bathroom of my hotel room, I reached for some toilet paper to blow my nose when much to my surprise, I saw a label (see photo) on the sink basin.  Perhaps they thought the toilet paper was out of view, or perhaps the housekeeping staff was going overboard with their label machine?  Either way – I thought it was a little redundant.

Do you know anyone who’s gone overboard with labels in their home?  Can you ever be overly organized?

Save Time When You Travel

Monday, July 7th, 2008

The Transportation Security Administration has actually done something right! They’ve approved a new laptop bag which will allow laptop owners to run computers through security without the extra step of removing it from the bag. The T.S.A. will allow the new cases as soon as they’re available on the market. Being developed by Targus and Pathfinder Luggage, both companies estimate these cases will be available in September or October.
According to an article in the NY Times, “the new cases include either a fold-down section in a bigger briefcase or a stand-alone protective sleeve that contains no extra clutter and can be readily viewed through the scanner.” This maybe helpful to the 70% of business travelers who feel rushed when trying to catch their flight or to the 60% of travelers who worry that security checkpoints will prevent them from boarding their flight on time.
I know I fall into the category of Americans who travel with their laptops, which according to a recent survey is nearly 25% of all airline passengers. I’ve always been concerned about the damage possible to my laptop when putting it on a moving conveyor belt or when the bin is pushed on its side because the subsequent luggage rams into the bins that have backed-up because people were trying to put their shoes back on. That’s another time waster I can’t bother with in this post!
I’ve also feared my laptop might walk off if I’ve been held up by the T.S.A for another scanning or pat-down. According to a recent survey by Ponemon Institute, I should be worried! Business travelers loose more then 12,000 laptops a week! Yes, 12,000! LAX leads the pack, averaging 1200 lost or stolen laptops weekly. Here in Washington, DC, DCA travelers average 450 lost laptops weekly and at Dulles more than 400 disappear each week.
With these new laptop bags, hopefully travelers will feel less rushed and be more aware of their belongings, since 40% of the lost computers occur at security checkpoints. The bags will have a retail price around $39 for a backpack style up to more than $200 for a rolling case. Either way, the function will be the same – protect your laptop and save time by not having to remove it from the bag. Now, if you truly want to save time, buy Clear, the only government-approved screening process. The company estimates you’ll spend no more then 14 seconds in line at airport security. If I traveled more often, I would happily pay the $128 annual fee for this fast pass.