Now that we're alone...

Our boys are gone. One has graduated and if off living on his own. The other is back at college. Now, we are “empty nesters.”  Two fewer schedules to coordinate and finally some time to think about getting away. Our favorite getaway? The Jersey beach in September. It is not crowded, the weather is fantastic, and the water is warm. Where will your travels take you?
If you are going, here are some tips for making your next vacation a great one.
Before you go…
Even if you’re only headed across the state to Pittsburg, a packing list is a must. How many times have you left home and arrived at your destination, only to find that you forgot your most comfortable walking shoes? Or your swimsuit? Put everything on this list, even if you think you would never forget it. A toothbrush is easy to replace when you get there – your prescription medication isn’t. (My mother’s approach was to lay out what you wanted to pack and cut that in half. She also suggested doubling the money you planned to take along.)
Be sure that you have printed itineraries for everyone in your party, and make color copies of important ID documents as well. Keep the copies in your bag, separate from your passport and other IDs. It’s also a great idea for each person to have a list of emergency numbers, either for them to call or for someone else providing assistance.
Of course, packing light can make travel a lot more enjoyable. Who wants to lug 100 pounds of luggage through the airport? Not us. Here are some ideas to help you lighten the load:
•Do laundry at your destination. Nobody wants to do laundry on vacation, but if you’re willing to sacrifice a little time, you can pack far fewer items of clothing.
•Easy on the shoes. If you can, pack only one or two pairs of shoes. It’s best to wear the heavier pair during travel if possible, and pack the lighter one.
•Ditch the books. Consider using an e-reader instead of packing actual books – that way you can carry hundreds of books on your trip! If you don’t own or want an e-reader, you can buy books once you reach your destination. Thrift shops are great places to find inexpensive books.
Next time, some tips on what to do once you are there.