Best Laid Plans

BLP Ep #97: Digital Planner Peace, Work Notebooks, and Vacation Planning & Packing

June 6, 2022

Planner Peace: Microsoft Edition

Catherine uses ALL digital products, and almost all Microsoft/Outlook based! It sounds like it all integrates quite nicely. I have always been intrigued by the ‘tasks’ area of my work email but have never actually used it, so it was nice to hear it CAN be done! Thank you for your submission, Catherine!

She was even gracious enough to make me a ‘non-private-info’ version of her calendar to share! Here it is below:

Color coding is my love language

Request for Work Notebooks

Ideas: Miquelrius (spiral or 1839 versions). Loved these many years ago, and they are a great option for those that want a lot of pages or sections!


Blackwing Slate (JetPens)

Papier (Referral link gets you $15 off and me a small credit)

Vacation Planning & Packing

Rapid fire outline style 🙂 Here you go:

  • Think about main goal of vacation!  Is it to relax?  Do active things? See friends?  See sights?
  • What do you want to get home feeling like you have accomplished?
  • Any specific experiences you want?  A hike?   Cool mountain morning air (just me?). Specific treat (shopping, food, etc) you can’t get at home?
  • Think about exercise!  Not saying you have to do exercise but reflect ok whether you’d like to take an intentional (and restorative!) break vs get in a run or two or take a yoga class at a resort etc
  • My current practice: go day by day through paper planners with sticky notes and think about what you’d like to do and when
  • Personally I like to plan in lazy down time!!!! Like, truly lazy – sitting around hotel rooms or Airbnb on screens or with books or napping.  Zero shame in this.
  • Good time to do this planning – a  month or so prior, if you can. That way you can make any reservations needed and confirm plans w friends.  You can tentatively plan in outdoor activities with a rain date.
  • Traveling w kids? Have at least a loose plan for each meal.  Or stock your kitchen and make it run (local grocery store, everyone picks a vacay snack).  TripAdvisor is my go-to for restaurant perusal.
  • Thennnnnn once the above is done (and only then) make packing list!  Best packing I’ve done is when I actually write out planned outfits.  Seems silly but one less thing to think about and ensures you won’t under or overpack.
  • Keep a list of “don’t forget” in apple notes or otherwise.  (Forgot razor AND hormone-stabilizing medication on my last trip — DOUBLE OOPS, won’t do that again!)
  • Kids: pack at least one more outfit think you think you’ll need
  • Random side note: I find baby wipes highly useful past the baby phase
  • Sunscreen and bug spray on every summer trip
  • Rapid Covid tests … sadly can come in handy
  • Daily rituals: think about what you’ll want to continue and what to take a break from 

Packing list notes example:

Full Focus Planner I am currently using (affiliate link here; use SARAH10 for 10% off.)
I will earn a small commission any time link used to purchase

(I’m so sad my romper won’t make it on my trip, I think it will be too cold esp at night!! Oh well.)

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  • Reply Elisabeth June 6, 2022 at 12:22 pm

    I second your baby-wipe comment. They are useful for everything…forever…but especially while on the road! I always have a set in every bathroom and the car even though my kids are long out of the baby stage.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns June 6, 2022 at 2:39 pm

    I do use a packing list, but it more so like a ‘don’t forget’ list because it’s not comprehensive but it includes things that are REALLY essential, like sound machines for our kids (we do not leave home without them!), medication, my running watch, wipes, diapers, bibs, cups for our kids, chargers etc. But we are in the very little kid stage and the places we are going aren’t necessarily close to a Target or something like that! So it is nice to have a list to go through every single time to go somewhere whether we are flying to another state or driving 3 hours to my parents! I find it easier to pack things I personally need because I just think about my day from start to finish and what I need, but it’s harder for me to remember what all the kids need!

    And we always come back a day before we have to go back to work so we can grocery shop, do laundry, etc. So we nearly always come back on a Saturday unless we travel near a holiday and have Monday off – then we will come back on a Sunday. Some people want to maximize their vacations and do as much as they can with their time off, but my husband and I both need a day to get caught up so we are not jumping right back into work and the craziness of life, etc!

  • Reply Louise June 6, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    I always use a packing list. I have several digital versions – beach, city, UK weekend, etc. – but most importantly I update them when I come back with anything I missed or didn’t need. It’s very detailed! I once met someone at a Kids Club in a hotel in Greece who, it turned out, had had my packing list for that holiday (it was our 3rd visit) shared with her through a friend of a friend – she was very complimentary about the level of detail!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 6, 2022 at 7:02 pm

      wow that is amazing! it’s famous 🙂

    • Reply Cb June 7, 2022 at 2:33 am

      That’s incredible! I love that. We did a UK break for the jubilee and I kind of want to book the same place every year, something nice about the familiarity.

      I’m gradually filling up my closet at my parents’ in Portugal so I can just bring stuff for my son… figure a few extra H&M pieces that live there is worth it in comparison to extortionate RyanAir baggage fees.

  • Reply Chelsea June 6, 2022 at 6:25 pm

    We’re wrapping up our last day of vacation! I’m feeling luck that we get out of school so early because it wasn’t crowded at all. We don’t have an official packing list but did do a lot of thinking through what to pack and double checking what we wanted to bring, The only two things we missed were 1. Underwear for one kid (who doesn’t actually like wearing underwear, so it wasn’t a big deal) and 2. Plastic grocery bags for car sickness. 3/5 of us ended up with a 24-hour stomach bug yesterday and Mr. No Underwear is still at the age where there’s no warning when he’s going to blow. It would have been helpful to… contain some things.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 6, 2022 at 7:02 pm

      i am SO sorry you guys got sick! the WORST.

  • Reply Cb June 7, 2022 at 2:30 am

    We just got back from a 4 day weekend and it struck me how light we can travel now, versus the diapers phase… we have an eastpak backpack and can get clothes for the 3 of us in one bag. We were in the car so it didn’t matter but it was just nice to pack light. Versus the time my poor husband went to London on the train with the buggy, travel tent, slung, and assorted stuff. We did have a full backpack of books for kiddo and I and board games and a Lego set. What we missed out – tylenol and covid tests, which made for a frantic dash when kiddo spiked a fever and began complaining of a sore throat. Luckily negative lateral flows, and weirdly the no tv/no Wi-Fi cottage was perfect for a sick kid? We’d normally resort to screens, but this time, we just cuddled and read stories, because we didn’t feel any pressure to be getting things done….

  • Reply Amanda June 7, 2022 at 9:04 am

    Just heard about this and I’d love to hear it reviewed.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 7, 2022 at 10:13 am

      Ooh very intriguing! I will consider ordering for research purposes!

  • Reply ndelacroix7 June 8, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    Loved the planner peace segment. I use Outlook for work (and still have a hotmail acct, don’t laugh), so I’m always looking for new tips.

  • Reply Krista June 9, 2022 at 8:06 am

    Second baby wipes; I would also add ziploc bags and utilizing Google search for “playground” – we’ve done this when our kid needs a break from the car and it can be a life saver. Seems to work internationally!

  • Reply Erika June 9, 2022 at 8:58 am

    If anyone needs an alternative, I’m going on a decade plus using the Rhodia Meeting Book for all my work notes and I couldn’t possibly love it more. I use the 8 1/4 x 6 1/4 size and it’s spiral bound, smooth paper, and looks good after months of being thrown in my bag. Highly recommend!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 9, 2022 at 11:19 am

      Ooh!!! Great option!

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