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As a father of 6, I have quite a bit of experience at trying to get our family of 8 out the door to anywhere on time. So, over the years I have learned a few tricks about how to speed up the process. I thought I would share a few of my ideas in the hopes that they might help you and your family. And while the main idea of this article is getting out the door on time for vacations and trips, many of the same ideas work for being on-time to just about anywhere. Hopefully these tips and tricks might help you to get where you want to go when you want to get there

Make a plan (and write it down)

Like most things in life, having a plan is an important part of getting stuff done. And writing it down is another important step – this can help make sure that everyone is on the same page. And many times, actually writing it down either on a physical piece of paper or electronically can help you realize parts of the plan that you need to adjust. If your flight is at noon, then you want to be to the airport by 10:30. It’s a 30 minute drive to the airport, plus you have to allow time to park or take a parking shuttle. So you plan on leaving at 9:30. So you want everyone to be ready and the car packed by 9:15, which means the kids have to be up by 8 and having breakfast, etc. etc. You can see how each step informs the next step, and if you are trying to keep all of these times in your head, you’re setting yourself up for trouble.

A packing list is key

I am also a big believer in creating a packing list. We usually set it up in a shared document like Google Docs. That allows both my wife and I to see what is on the packing list and add things that the other might have forgotten. As our kids have gotten older, we can also share the packing list with them so they know how many outfits and what other items they need to pack. A day or two before our trip, we’ll print out the packing list along with bringing up our suitcases or other packing items. Then, as the items get packed, they’re checked off the list. Anything that can’t be packed until the day of travel gets circled so we know not to forget it before we leave the house.

The reason a packing list is important is because one of the biggest contributors to not being able to get out the door on time is that you suddenly remember that you forgot something. So then you start scrambling to get it packed in the moment. Or even worse, you’re already on the road and you have to turn the car around to get it. Over the years, we have kept a “standard” packing list as a shared Google Doc – this shared packing list has been updated and added to over the years, and we can adjust it for any individual trip depending on how long it is or where we’re going.

Prepare the night before

Another great tip is to prepare the night before. This is especially true if you have an early flight or are trying to leave on a road trip early to miss traffic. We will usually take our packing list and start packing items a day or so beforehand. Usually we will just put them out in the middle of our family room, though when we were planning a surprise trip to Disney World without telling the kids, we had to put all of our suitcases in our bedroom and lock the door.

(SEE ALSO: Disney surprise trip video: How long does my daughter scream when she finds out we’re going to Disney World?)

There are always things that can’t get packed the night before. These are usually things like medicine, our white noise machines, the kids’ special stuffed animals and anything that has to be refrigerated. Those things get circled on the packing list so we know to make sure and remember them in the morning. But having the majority of the packing done the night before removes a lot of the stress of travel day and also reduces the chances of forgetting something. Then when we’re ready to leave, we pack up the car and off we go.

Give yourself buffer time

Another thing that you’ll want to do is give yourself buffer time. If you think you need to leave at 7:00 to get to the airport on time, plan on leaving at 6:45 or even 6:30. And if you have someone in your family that always seems to struggle, give THEM even more buffer time. If we’re planning to leave at 2:00, I might tell my daughter that we’re leaving at 1:45. That way when she’s ACTUALLY ready at 2, we’re still on-time. And while you don’t want to be one of those people that wastes their lives in the airport or gets to the gate 3 hours before boarding, getting there a little early can help reduce stress. And if you have Priority Pass or other airport lounge access, it’s not an unpleasant experience. Personally, I would much rather be at the airport an hour earlier than I need to than deal with the stress of sprinting through the airport.

What about you? What are your best tips to get out the door on time? Leave them in the comments

Points With a Crew has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points With a Crew and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Other links on this page may also pay me a commission - as always, thanks for your support if you use them

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