I love packing. Every time I have occasion to travel, I try to be just a little more efficient. I want to make sure I have everything I need, but I don’t want to over pack. Sometimes it’s tough to balance the two.
I wanted to share some of the things that I do:
1. Keep it Simple. There are some things that I leave in my suitcase all the time. Take a look at this article in Travel Necessities and you’ll see what I mean. No need to list them all here.
2. Organize with ziploc bags. I’ve been packing my clothes in ziploc bags for a few years now and find that it works well for me. In one bag, I can put what I need for that day – capris, shirt, undies, and even jewelry. After I put everything in the bag, I squeeze and roll it up so that I get as much air out of it as possible. It’s a simpler version of those bags where you have to use a vacuum to condense the size of the bag. It’s cheaper, too. I can usually find a package of 5 at the Dollar Tree. Another plus is that once your clothes are dirty, you can stick them back in the bag until you’re ready to wash.
In the colder months, I generally pack one or two pair of jeans, and in that case, I will lay them out the length of the suitcase because they’re so bulky. Then I put a couple of shirts and undies in each bag. Squeeze and roll.
3. Take a skirt. I always take a skirt, just in case. This time my “skirt” was a swimsuit cover up. I just wear it with the gathered part around my waist.
4. Travel Organizers. Last year I was just itching to buy the nice zippered travel organizers. I bought an orange set that came in small, medium and large. I like being able to separate my clothing, but they don’t allow you to “shrink” the thickness of the contents. Instead, here’s how I used them:
a. I used the large organizer for everything I’d need at the beach. Swimsuit, beach towel, sunscreen, flip flops, and even a spray bottle with a fan. Everything fit and I put it in the bottom of the suitcase. The nice thing about these organizers is that they have handles, so I could have actually used this for my go-to bag that day.
b. I used the medium and small-sized organizers to put some of the items I mentioned in the Traveling Necessities article – bandages, allergy meds, ponchos, umbrella, etc.
5. Coordinate. Try to coordinate your clothing so you can mix and match. We usually pack light because we have access to a washer and dryer. On this trip, I took 3 changes of clothes and knew I’d be washing. Each of those shirts matched all of the pants, so I didn’t have to wear the exact thing again. I really could have gotten by with 2 outfits instead of 3, and I never did wear the skirt.
6. Shoes. Keep it comfy. When you’re coordinating clothing, keep your shoe choices in mind, too. I have a pair of lime green Keens I wanted to wear, so everything I took was neutral, tan, brown, or a complementing green. I also took a brown pair of Skechers that look like Birkenstocks. Turned out that those Skechers were the most comfortable shoes, so I wore them every day that we did a lot of walking. The flip flops were good for the water park and for those days we got to relax. I didn’t take tennis shoes because I knew I’d be too hot in them. Don’t waste your space on shoes. Wear a pair and take a pair. That’s it.
7. Don’t forget your pj’s! I took just one pair and shrink wrapped them in a ziploc bag. I think my daughter takes a pair for every day, but I figure one pair will do when I’m doing laundry so often. (BTW, I LOVE to do laundry, so this isn’t a chore for me on vacation. I don’t like having sweaty clothes lying around.)
8. Toiletries. I have a nifty toiletry bag that I use every day, even at home. I do it that way so I don’t really have to stop and think about it when I leave home. I like having the hanger so it will hook on any towel bar. I have pockets for all kinds of stuff.
9. Makeup. I don’t wear much makeup to begin with, and on a vacation where you have sweat or water dripping in your face all day, it’s just better to wear sunglasses and a hat and fuhgettaboutit! Here’s all I take: eyebrow pencil and brush, eyeliner, a dab of base to hide the dark circles from too much park hopping! I keep the base in a contact case. I use those little cases for LOTS of stuff, including broken lipsticks, coconut oil, moisturizer, facial cleanser, etc. They take up hardly any space, and believe it or not, are big enough to hold a week’s worth of just about anything. They have a tight seal and I’ve never had a lid pop open in flight. Here’s my makeup “kit” in a little jewelry bag. Nice plug for Helzberg Diamonds!
10. Use little bags. Fortunately, I don’t take any medications. If I did, I would leave them in the prescription bottle and carry them with me. I do, however, carry allergy pills, vitamins, melatonin and magnesium. Instead of carrying big bottles, I use little ziploc bags and count out a little more than enough for the length of my trip. You can find these at Hobby Lobby near the jewelry-making items, or just pay attention to some of the things you already have at home … like this nifty velvet bag. I have another bag that’s smaller than this one and I use it for a couple of pair of earrings.
11. Get rid of the big bottles! Even when you’re checking your bags, don’t waste valuable space with family sized bottles of shampoo! Buy some travel size bottles or empty some bottles you already have at home. Whatever size you take, it’s a good idea to put them inside a ziploc bag, just in case the pressure change opens the lid. That trick has saved me on a couple of occasions.
12. Don’t forget the corners! Even after my bag was packed, I noticed that I could squeeze a few things down in the corners. My sister likes to roll her clothes when she packs, and she’s an awesome, space-saving packer!
13. Wrap the sensitive stuff. I don’t really “wrap” it, but I like to put my toiletries in the bag with a pair of flip flops on top to protect them. If you have things that are likely to get broken, and can’t carry them with you, fit them in the bag with clothes all around them. Use your shoes for small items. Don’t leave any spaces!
14. Swimsuits. My smart friend, Jane, and I went kayaking a few years ago and she wore men’s swim trunks and a t-shirt. She said that’s all she uses for a swimsuit anymore because you don’t have to have a cover-up and you don’t have to sit like a lady! I learned from her and that’s what I do now, too. I feel SO much more comfortable and it sure makes it nice when you have to go to the bathroom. I bought a couple of rash guards that are SPF 50+. I have one that’s long sleeved, and another that’s short sleeved. I can play in the sun all day and not have to worry about getting burned or reapplying sunscreen. I’ve found that it’s easier to wear a lightly padded bra or a bikini top under the shirt instead of a one-piece swimsuit, again for the ease of not having to practically get undressed to use the bathroom. You see so many women who wear shorts on top of their suits, it makes you wonder why swimsuit manufacturers don’t make some attractive swim trunks/shorts for women with matching rash guards.
I remember reading something one time that said, “I don’t understand why people go buy new clothes to go on vacation when they’re going to be with people who will never see them again.” It’s important to take a look at what you’ll be doing when you get there. I knew it was going to be in the 90’s and I knew there was a chance of rain. I knew I wanted my most lightweight capris and not denim.
I did my research and planned accordingly. I chose the right things to take and stayed as comfortable as a human can be in a sea of people who were also trying to endure the high temperatures.