In this month’s article, we’ll take a look at a few top tips for vacation packing that will help make getting ready for your next holiday a real breeze.
There’s nothing quite as replenishing as a well-earned vacation. That moment when you take some time off from work, go off to some exotic island with the family, and maybe even sip some mojitos as you enjoy the sunset…. Sounds good, right?
Yet the reality is that some people find prepping for vacation stressful: it requires a fair amount of deliberate planning and smart packing. We’ve got some ideas to help. You’ll enjoy your vacation more knowing you didn’t forget your essentials like your camera or that swimsuit that always brings out your best features—so let’s get started:
1. Create a Vacation Packing List
A list will help put structure to your packing. Channeling your imagination will allow you to think of all the necessary items you need, reduce panic packing—and help you get excited, too!
Whether you use pen and paper, Google Sheets or your favorite Notes tool, set time aside to think about your planned activities. Consider what you’ll need by category: e.g., clothes, shoes, tech, toys, and medicines. Ask yourself:
- How long is the trip?
- How will you be traveling? Plane, train, large car, convertible, motorcycle?!
- What do we need for this specific vacation? Think about the activities you’ll be doing, and specific shoes, clothes and supplies you’ll need. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast, too. (Okay, so what do we really need?)
- How can I group or sort these items for easier packing?
2. Get the Right Suitcase
Now that you have all your essentials on the list, the next challenge is how exactly to fit them inside a suitcase. This mainly depends on the nature of your trip. For example, if it’s a camping trip, you’ll want a sturdy backpack to carry your hiking gear.
The right suitcase and packing technique will help you maximize space so you can fit all the luggage you need in the suitcase(s) that you have. These questions should help you decide on the best one for this holiday:
- If you’ve used this suitcase for travel before, how convenient was it?
- Do you need it to be more durable (e.g., to withstand luggage handling machines), or squashable (e.g., so you can fit more in, and/or fit it more easily into the trunk)?
- Would individual suitcases or several small ones be easier to handle or load in the car?
- Does the weight of the suitcase matter, either for you to carry or for airline limits?
- Can you lock it safely?
Tips for How to Maximize Suitcase Space
Once you’ve picked the right suitcase, it’s time to start packing.
Clothes: Our golden nugget for packing clothes is to fold bulky garments such as pants at the bottom and ranger-roll light tops and shirts on top of the bulky clothes. Combining the two techniques allows you to maximize and create pockets of space for other essential items.
It’s also key to overcome ‘over-packing syndrome.’ One of the best solutions is to plan for mix-and-match outfits. Color coordinated and versatile, this approach will help you pack the optimal number of clothes for each family member.
- Which clothes do we really need? Can you create mix-and-match outfits? (Remember that accessories can help change your look.)
- What fabrics work best for this particular destination?
- What specialty outer wear or underwear might you need?
TIP: You’re probably stuffing lots of things together into a suitcase that you wouldn’t ordinarily keep together. Help avoid shampoo-spills and similar accidents by using bottles to store all your essential liquids, packed into a zip-sealing plastic bag. Keep a fresh bag available for wet clothes (and be sure to dry them out ASAP you can unpack to prevent mildew!).
Shoes: Shoes are both heavy and bulky, so try to limit the number of pairs each family member brings. Use shoe bags to keep them from smudging your clean clothes inside the suitcase. For maximum stability, pack them at the wheel-end of your suitcase.
Tech Gadgets: For many of us, especially if you have children, packing the entertainment gadgets is almost as necessary as the suitcase itself! The easiest way to carry tech items, including laptops and extra batteries, is to put them in a separate duffel bag or pack them on top of the clothes in the suitcase. If you are traveling by vehicle, place the gadgets bag at the corners of your car’s trunk to avoid potential damage or personal injury.
Camping gear: Packing camping gear should not be the nightmare that it’s usually perceived to be. The hack here is to use clear totes with lids. These reusable containers not only help you to arrange the items needed in a certain camping area together but are easy to pack in a car. Plus, you can easily see everything! To avoid any accidents or leaks, consider sealing the tote lids with packing tape.
3. How to Maximize Trunk Space
If you’re driving to your vacation destination, the next and last part of the packing jigsaw puzzle is the car. The secret is to first lay everything that you have packed before you. You can then pack the heavy luggage or gear first. Then, set aside those things you may need along the way, and/or immediately upon arrival. Fit the rest into your available spaces, leaving the easy-access items for last.
These top tips should help save time. They’ll help you pack only the absolute essentials with the least mental stress—so you can enjoy your whole vacation.