07/08/2013 05:26 EDT | Updated 09/07/2013 05:12 EDT

I Lived By My Packing List...Then My Computer Crashed

I'm a list maker. In fact I love making lists. I'm not the most organized person in the world but the one thing I do well is make a mean list! I make Christmas card lists, grocery shopping lists, to-do Lists, and over the past decade, I've become especially proficient at making packing lists. So much so that prior to our last jaunt, I had actually planned to write an article about it, and include links to some of my personal packing lists, to save other busy parents like myself some time creating one.

Now my husband -- he's a wing and a prayer kind of guy, typical by most male standards, he assures me. No need for lists. Grab the basics, work with what you got, buy what you need if you forget something, and if you can't, Keep Calm and Carry On my friends. But as time and luck would have it my computer crashed two days before we left on vacation and I couldn't access any of my packing lists. I was terribly busy with work and didn't have time to start over so 'to heck with it' I thought. I can do this.

Given that we've travelled quite a bit over with our "large family," I figured I could pull this one off, sans my signature checklists. I call a friend with whom we'd be travelling, an expert cottager, and noted a page full of the basics she said we'd need. And with that, I packed, into the night and well into the morning of our departure. I felt calm and confident despite the exclusion of my destination-specific, double-columned lists (yes, double-columned so that I could check off what needed to be packed for both our departures -- to and from our destination). Brilliant! I was packed and we were on our way.

Our journey was somewhat unremarkable except we had brought a single DVD movie (the one left in the player), had left behind the art and activities bag, with their new traceable art book inside, and neglected to pack a variety of snacks and drinks. You know, whatever, don't want to overwhelm them on a single car ride.... save something for our next trip, right?

We arrived and unpacked. Beds were made, kitchen was organized and fridge was stocked! Whew! I donned my sun hat and glasses, pulled up a beach chair and settled into my beverage of choice while the kids readied themselves for their first boat ride of the week. Nice! Pardon, what? No life jackets? Water shoes? But, I thought you packed them? YES, they were obviously on my list, you know, the one I couldn't access! The nearest Canadian Tire is how far?

It was the first of many reminders of how desperately I apparently needed, and relied on, a simple piece of paper and a pen to keep the show moving at our house. Later when the absence of water shoes resulted in a clam shell injury to one of my daughters' feet, and we realized that the first aid kit, newly loaded with all sorts of band-aids, ointments and first-aidy stuff, was left sitting on the kitchen counter, because it wasn't checked off the list, we learned the hard way that the small town neighbouring us didn't have an actual pharmacy in town.

But we managed. And we had a great time filled with fun, laughter and memories. So what that we forgot things like saran wrap, foil, oregano, and pasta, things that would have clearly been noted, and checked off, on my list. I can let go, be more like my hubby, footloose and fancy free....NOT! While there, I made notes, adding items to my phantom list for next time, and have now emailed my recovered packing lists to myself so that next time my temperamental computer gets the better of me, it won't get the better of my planning!

If you'd like to see or print off my generic cottage packing list, I've posted it to my personal travel blog, WEplusTHREE...or More . Feel free to share it or personalize a copy for yourself. Have suggestions? Please share with me @lrgfamilytravel.

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