Vacation Packing Tips and Tricks
Spring Break is right around the corner and if you’re like me, you’re busy counting down the days until you can jump on a plane and head out of town. What better time to share some Peach Blossom tips for successfully organizing yourself before you go? Before we dive in, I should mention that I hate packing and I’ve never been very good at it.
The way I see it, the problem is that I’m easily overwhelmed by all of the unknowns that come with traveling and my desire to be fully prepared (and outfitted) for every possible situation…
- Are we dressing up for dinner?
- Every dinner?
- If yes, can I get away with the same pair of shoes each night?
- But what about all of the other fun shoes in my closet? Won’t they feel bad if they don’t get packed?
- How can I look cute touring around but still be comfy?
- Should I try to get a work-out in while I’m gone? (which will require a whole extra pair of shoes!)
- Am I really going to want to work-out while on vacation?
- How many swimsuits should I bring?
- Would it be super-boring to wear the same cover-up everyday?
- And the same flip-flops? (they’re small and bendable, surely taking two or three pairs couldn’t hurt…)
- If I ditch the work-out shoes, how much more space will that buy me?
- What if we run into George Clooney and Amal and they ask us to dinner? Will I have something fancy enough to wear?
Okay, I could probably take that last one off the list. But I did run into Josh and Amanda from Bachelor in Paradise fame at the airport back in October, so I’m not completely off-base.
(side note: they were both very nice, and Amanda is just as sweet in real life as she seems on TV. She asked about my kids and didn’t seem too weirded out when I threw my phone at my husband and made him take a picture. They stuck around for a bit after this shot was snapped and we chatted about our travel plans. Sadly, this is them in happier times…You can click here to read all about how their journey to find love ended in heartbreak.)
Anyway, back to packing. The good news, and the reason why I feel like I have something of value to offer in this department, is that I’m finally learning how to minimize. Actually, I’m being forced into it – but that’s okay. My husband’s new job comes with stand-by travel perks for the family, which means carry-on suitcases for all of us. I’m incredibly grateful to be starting this new chapter of our lives that allows us the opportunity to really start seeing the world, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a huge learning curve involved in combining my always-be-prepared tendencies with my brand new 22 x 14 x 9 suitcase. For those of you who can relate to wanting to take it all with you, but are trying to embrace the simplicity of traveling with a carry-on, here are some tips and tricks that work for me:
As much as possible, it’s important to know ahead of time what you’ll be spending most of your time doing. Do you envision numerous exciting excursions, followed by hours of sightseeing, topped off with fancy dinners at exotic restaurants? Or will your vacation involve long hours lounging by the pool, followed by a shower in the late afternoon and a quick costume change for dinner? For those kinds of trips, a few swimsuits and going out to dinner outfits would be sufficient. But if your plans involve tours of Mayan Ruins or hiking through the Appalachians, the outfits choices are obviously going to be a bit different. Knowing your itinerary ahead of time makes realistic planning of your wardrobe much easier.
try everything on:
Once you choose the potential outfits that you think might be making the trip with you, try everything on. Yes, everything. I know it’s a pain, but it’ll help you feel more confident about what you’ve selected and help you resist the temptation to throw more back-up outfits in your suitcase “just in case”. Now’s the time where you can really assess whether or not one pair of dressy sandals could work for all of your nighttime outfits, and if you could get away with wearing work-out shoes while you sightsee. (It’s a look I just can’t pull-off. I do like my feet to be comfy if there’s going to be a lot of walking involved, though. Keds, Vans or Converse seem to do the trick.)
mix and match:
Believe in the miracle of mixing and matching, and the power of accessories to change a look! One pair of black shorts can easily be taken from daytime touring to a nice dinner out by changing from a sneaker to a wedge sandal, and swapping out a casual tee for a dressy top. A simple black maxi-dress could go from daytime lunch to a night on the town by adding a pendant necklace and earrings to fancy-up the look. (You can find more inspiration for creating different looks for a beach vacation here.) For colder destinations, leggings can be worn with flats and a sweater during the day, and dressed up with nice boots and a scarf at night – an easy way to add some interest to an otherwise simple outfit.
fitting it all in:
If you’re heading to a beach destination and bringing a sunhat (your skin will thank you for it), try packing it upside-down on the bottom of your suitcase, and then filling the inside with smaller items – rolled up swimsuits, socks, undies, bras, etc. You can also roll up shorts, tees, pjs, and cover-ups and pack those under the brim of the hat to help support it. I own a really cute packable hat that has so far survived two beach vacations and still looks great. Use protective shoe bags (plastic grocery bags work, too) to protect your shoes and the items around them, and pack those along the sides of your suitcase so that nothing gets crushed. I usually stack my make-up bag and heat tools on the bottom of my suitcase (next to my sunhat), and then add a layer of folded clothes over the top (I’ve discovered that wrinkle resistant items like t-shirts do better rolled, and more wrinkle-prone items, like dress shirts, do better folded. But there seems to be great debate on this in the world of packing experts). I’ve also found it helpful to use a jewelry roll to keep my earrings organized and my necklaces from getting tangled. I’ve also been thinking about getting a set of these to help keep everything compact. Have you tried them? What do you think?
Plan on wearing the same travel outfit on the way to your destination and the way back home, especially if you are leaving a cold weather place for a warm weather location. Who wants to pack an extra pair of jeans and a sweater just to wear on the airplane ride home, when that space could be devoted to a sassy sundress or your favorite white capris? Also, if you know that you want to take a pair of dressy boots on your trip, wearing them on the airplane with jeans or leggings and a comfy sweater will save valuable room in your suitcase.
Consider having your second, smaller carry-on item be a tote that can double as a beach bag if you’re headed somewhere tropical, or a sporty backpack if you’re planning to go on a lot of outdoor excursions. Stash it with snacks, books and magazines for the airplane ride, as well as your phone, wallet, and any passports, tickets or travel information you need. Gum, mints, tissues, and hand sanitizer are also a good idea. Large ziplock bags are a great way to keep everything organized inside, including any charging cables you need to bring. This is also where you’ll want to keep your quart-size TSA bag so you have easy access to it when you go through security (tips for managing a hair and make-up routine while sticking to TSA regulations coming to the blog soon).
write it down:
Make lists! I am all about writing things down while I’m in the process of packing so that I don’t stress about what essentials I might be forgetting. To help me stay organized and eliminate all of the little notes I used to write to myself as I thought of things I wanted to remember to pack, I decided to create a couple of Packing Checklists. To keep things simple I made a Warm Weather Edition and a Cold Weather Edition, and it’s been a real lifesaver to be able to refer back to these as I’m getting everything set out in the days leading up to a trip. Click on the pictures below to print your own free copies. Happy packing!
Are you headed anywhere over Spring Break? What are your favorite ways to stay organized when you pack? Comment below and let me know!