I love to travel. Unfortunately, the hubby and I haven’t had much time to travel over the years because of having so many babies so young and because of med school and moving all over the country.
Fortunately, we’re done with having kiddos, they’re getting older, and we’re officially done with med school and residency and finally settling down into a regular routine life and routine.
Recently, the hubby had some time off and we booked a trip to Vegas with some friends. It was so nice to get away for a little while and have a little time to ourselves without all the kiddos running around.
That trip was about a month ago but I thought I would share with you some of tricks I use when I pack. We already have a few other trips planned in the next couple months because of job interviews and conferences and I’m planning a trip to Napa for my mom’s 60th birthday.
I’m usually a big procrastinator but over the years I’ve learned to get myself packed and ready to go the day or two before so I’m not running around like a crazy pants the day of. Plus, I tend to get a little anxiety before traveling so getting packed early and well makes me feel a little better.
Also, I’ve been (and still am) a notorious over-packer and using these tips has helped me pair down what I bring while also still having enough outfits to choose from when I’m there – ya know, just in case plans change or weather changes.
So here’s all my tips for easy packing…
As soon as I figure out where I’m going and when, I check the average temperature so I can start planning out my attire.
If it’s somewhere I’ve been before this part is easy. However, if it’s somewhere I’ve never been then I make sure to try and plan or figure out things that we are going to do so I know how to plan outfits accordingly.
For our trip to Napa, I have a whole itinerary of things to do and places we’re going and I’ve done some research on what is recommended to wear while we’re there. Now I have a better idea what to pack for during the day wine tasting and what to pack for at night.
Make a List
Once I figure out what we’re going to be doing, I make a list of everything I think I’ll need for those activities and how many days/nights we’ll be there.
Usually this just looks like:
- Pool day: bathing suit and coverup
- Shopping day: shorts and t-shirt
- Fancy dinner: nice dress or skinny jeans and blouse
This way I can have a little mental note of things that I already have and things that I might need to purchase in anticipation.
I also make a general list of toiletries, chargers, and cords that I’ll need based on how many days I’m staying.
Lay It Out
This is another of the million reasons I love my king size bed. The day or two before we leave is when I do all my packing. Now this might seem like much to a lot of you, but I try on all the outfits I plan on taking to make sure that they fit properly and they work together. Then I lay everything out on the bed in the outfit with the undergarments, shoes, and accessories so I can see it all.
If anything doesn’t fit or doesn’t quite look right I can change it out then instead of having an outfit on the trip that I can’t wear because I don’t like it.
This also helps keep me from overpacking (to a degree) because I try and plan several different (maybe two or three) tops to wear with the same bottoms and same shoes. This is sometimes difficult to be strategic with the outfits but it saves space and pounds for all that shopping I’ll be doing while I’m on vacation. Haha!
Also, I always pack at least two bathing suits when visiting somewhere tropical so there’s always one dry when I’m ready to head to the pool or beach.
After trying everything on and laying it all out I do another round of editing and elimination if possible. Most of the time I’ll swap out a top or two or sometimes I’ll add a last minute top in case something gets stained or the weather changes, etc.
Shoes and Makeup Bags
Once all my outfits and shoes are planned, I start packing. Shoes and toiletry bags always go toward the bottom of the suitcase. Not the back/bottom while the suitcase is laying down but the bottom near the wheels so when you stand your suitcase up nothing gets smashed and wrinkled.
If I have a super nice pair of shoes, I sometimes pack them in their own bag so they don’t get ruined by anything else. Or the shoes don’t end up ruining anything else in the suitcase. The cloth dust bags you get with purses work well for this.
I usually always pack my toiletry bag the day I’m leaving for the flight so I’ll leave a space at the bottom between all the clothes where it will fit.
Belt and Hat Trick
If I’m packing a floppy hat and/or belts for the trip I will always pack them together. I’ll roll the belts and place them inside the hole of the hat with some undergarments and place that down first even before the shoes. Then I’ll pack the shoes around the hat.
Layer the Clothes
After getting the shoes in, I’ll layer the clothes… structured things, silks and knits, and more structured things. I want to protect the delicate items so I layer them between more structured items that hold their shape better when traveling.
Fill Dead Space
After all the main clothes are packed, I fill the rest of the dead space with my undergarments and socks. Then I strap it down with the straps in the suitcase. It’s not perfect but it at least holds things in place a little so it’s not a huge mess when unpacking at your destination.
Consider Packing Cubes
With all the traveling we have coming up, I’m actually considering investing in packing cubes. I see them everywhere and hear great things about them. I really think it would help with my OCD packing techniques and then I would be able to keep outfits together in each cube. This set looks like a great option.
If I go this route at any time I’ll definitely update this post and let you guys know. Of if you’ve used them and love them let me know in the comments!
Invest in Travel Size
I don’t know why it took me so many years to do this but I finally pulled the trigger before our most recent trip and it has been amazing.
Before I would just hope that the hotel had decent shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc and not pack those things. Then of course I would get there and be sorely disappointed. I finally went to Meijer and raided their travel section. I bought all the travel size everything and keep it in a big basket under my sink.
I haven’t quite pulled the trigger on buying travel size of all my makeup but I’m starting too. Mostly haven’t because some of the travel size things are the same price as full size and I just can’t bring myself to buy a smaller size for only a dollar or two less.
However, any of the free samples or free gifts with purchase I get all go in travel basket.
This is also super important if you are trying to pack everything for your trip in a carry-on. You need to stick to the strict TSA rules of less than 3.4 ounces of liquids, gels, and aerosols or else your stuff will get confiscated. And we definitely don’t want that to happen.
Lighten Up Your Carry-On
I hate lugging a large suitcase through the airport and security. Even though I have TSA Pre-Check it’s just still such a hassle. So, I try and pack as light as I can in my carry-on.
I only pack the essentials that I will need on the plane along with my chargers, my laptop, and my camera… that definitely does not go in checked baggage. Then I’ll leave room for random things I’ll purchase in the airport like water or a book/magazine.
I’m also not a fan of carrying on two bags through the airport so I usually make sure that my purse is packed away in my carry-on bag and I just have one bag to worry about while in the airport.
This bag that I bought for the hospital is what I used recently and it works perfectly.
There you have it… that’s all my OCD tips for easy packing that I can think of that I follow. Hopefully some of these will help you for your next trip. If you have any tips I didn’t mention let me know! I’d love to hear them and try them out.