At Ease

At Ease

Here’s how to have a stress-free vacation.

By Aisha Mickens

Wondering if you paid the light bill as you rush to get out the door? Scrambling for your passport at the last minute, making your vacation more stressful than relaxing?

Before you pack your, check out these helpful suggestions from organizing guru Rosemary Chieppo.

Arrange for a pet-friendly hotel so your pooch can have an enjoyable vacation as well. Log on to, a website devoted to pet travel, for a list of hotels that allow animals. If you decide to leave your pet behind, check out the American Boarding Kennels Association to find a legit kennel, or visit to find a professional pet sitter.

Pay bills due before return. Many service providers offer automatic bill pay, which allows them to withdraw the due amount from your account every month. To set up automated online bill pay with the phone company, you will need to give the company a voided check and one or two forms of authorization.

To avoid overpacking, plan outfits ahead of time. Choose a color palate and pack a few interchangeable pieces. For example, black pants or jeans can be worn multiple times with different tops. Choose travel-friendly fabrics like knits, gabardine and denim. Add some fun accessories to spruce things up.

Don’t carry a lot of cash. Chieppo suggests bringing a small amount of cash and withdrawing what you need, using your debit card as you go. Travelers checks are also a good option because they are insured and can be replaced.

Don’t wait until the last minute to renew or apply for a passport. During the summer months it can take up to 10 weeks to get a new one. In general, expect to wait at least four weeks from the time of application, but check with the U.S. State Department for travel updates.

Have each child pack a “survival kit” with games, books or iPods. Avoid packing pens and pencils; opt for crayons and washable markers instead. For road trips, cookie sheets and breakfast-in-bed trays are good flat surfaces for eating on, sticking magnetic toys to and coloring on.

Get your car ready. If you’re hitting the open road, remember that car maintenance is always less expensive than emergency road service. Check the condition of tires, belts, battery and spark plugs before any road trip. Always keep an emergency kit in your car with (at least) a flashlight, flares, tire changing tools, jumper cables and a blanket.

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