If you were to ask me my absolutely worst domestic task, it would be laundry, followed quickly by packing for vacations. If procrastination had a face, it would look like me. Its funny, because last year, I averaged at least 1 trip a month, so you would think I’ve got this packing thing down pat. But I’m typically found, on the floor of my bedroom, sometime around 11pm the night before a flight leaves, paralyzed by fear that I will forget something. So, instead, if I just don’t pack anything and try to postpone the inevitable, it will all go away.
But it doesn’t.
So how do I break my vacation packing paralysis? With these vacation packing tips, sure to help anyone get out of their biggest dread of packing.
No really – tell yourself it’s going to be OK. If you can pack your suitcase, you can get on the plane, and to your destination for some fun. It’s worth it, right?
I am a list-lover. I found this list online, that helps my family and I organize our priorities. I also like, that I can fill in the quantities per item so I can decide if its a dressier occasion (conferences) or more casual (beach vacay). If you are just going for a couple of days, and think you can squeeze by with just a carry-on, try using this list instead.
This is the other list I like to use, as it let’s me plan each day – very helpful for work trips. I can specify outfits for each day based on the occasion.
Lay out your clothes based on outfits. If you are packing to mix up your separates and bottoms, pick a color theme and stick to it, so all pieces go together. This is what helps me get over the overwhelming feeling. Color theme examples I use: grey and coral; navy, mustard and black and white; and black, white and red. When I am selecting my outfits, if the clothes don’t fit in the color range, I leave them out.
This also helps with accessories, when you can mix and match your accessories within the color range. Pick gold or silver; classic or statement; and your favorite pieces that make the outfit.
I’m a firm believer that the rolling method of packing (where you roll your clothes into burritos) helps to get more clothes in a smaller compartment WITHOUT wrinkles.
But, if you are a frequent traveler (4 or more trips a year), I’d recommend investing in travel compression bags. These packing sets, from Eagle Creek, are a great starter kit – and just enough for my carry-on. I’ve also bought packing cubes for longer trips, that help the rolled up clothes stay in one place. The folder is great for business attire (trousers, dresses, blouses) that are harder to roll. When I arrive at my destination, I either hang up my clothes or put them in a dresser at the hotel.
And what about the socks and undies? I place my undergarments in a smaller cube so they can consolidate down and have a little “privacy” in case TSA wants to search my bag. For the socks, I also roll them up and place them inside my shoes.
After I have gathered everything on my list, and rolled all the items, I take a break. I go watch a 30-minute sitcom, take a shower, or do something else I find relaxing and fun. This break also gives me a moment for my brain to think of all the things I may have missed. For that, I keep a notebook and pen next to me. Any items that come flooding my brain, I just write down. I don’t seek them out that moment, I just write them all down. After my 30-60 minute break, I then re-attack the packing, with the new list in hand. Meds-check. Chargers- you betcha! (these are regularly on my most commonly missed list).
Fill your bag, starting with shoes and difficult shapes first. Here are a few tips for the items:
– Shoes: wrap them in grocery bags to not dirty up the rest of your bag. I tend to bring 2-3 pairs: flats, converse/Toms, and sandals or boots depending on the season.
– Jewelry: place each item in individual baggies (the snack size) and then in a larger bag – like a cosmetic bag or just a gallon-size baggie.
– Cords: I use an electronics carrying case for my cords, but in lieu of one, make sure to wrap them up and tie with a hair tie (bonus hair ties!) to hold the cords in place.
– Makeup: separate your liquids and powders and baggie up the liquids. I tend to downsize the amount of makeup I take, so use color palettes with multiple eye shadows or blush/bronzer sets to minimize space.
– Carry-on liquids: don’t forget to separate your carry-on liquid pouch with your favorite products. I subscribe to Birchbox, so this traveling offers me an opportunity to try new things in pack-able sizes.
Place the rolled up clothes on top and around delicate items.
Here are a few extras that I always travel with, no matter how silly it may seem to be:
– Plastic baggies and grocery bags: the return trip might need some new ones, and you never know when you need to repackage a gift or item
– Makeup wipes: they can be used as spot cleaner on clothes
– Bobby pins:- whenever I travel, my hair goes bonkers, so these hold it back in place
– Pillow: If I’m traveling with just a carry-on, I tend to skip this (I can deal for a 3 day conference), but if I’m going on vacation, I bring my own pillow.
– Yoga pants: I don’t do yoga, but I always have these for the off chance, in the middle of the night, the fire alarm might go off. (It’s happened to me in several hotels, and having quick easy on pants is great)
– Face mask: I love the face masks in a pack and they are perfect to travel with, especially if you just got off a delayed flight, are tired and your skin is dry as dry can be!
– Umbrella: I can’t tell you how many times the forecast has been “clear skies” and I run into rain or snow. I have an umbrella that fits in a purse and goes on all my travels, just in case.
So what happens if your worst fear comes into play while you are ON vacation and you realize you forgot something? Read step 1 above (Breathe).
If you forgot cords to plug in your phone or toiletries, ask your hotel front desk. Many hotels are carrying extra amenity items for their guests for these “forgotten” items.
If you didn’t pack enough clothes or don’t have an event appropriate outfit – go shopping! It’s a great excuse to pick up something new! Unless you are vacationing in the backwoods of Arkansas, you are likely near civilization and can get to a store. And if you are in a rural location, I’m not sure why an LBD is necessary.
It’s going to be OK. If you can pick yourself off the floor, you will be able to get packed and on to your destination!