stress-free vacation packing experience & timeline
I know … stress free packing may sound impossible but trust us it can be done and we are here to help! Packing for vacation is filled with mixed emotions such as excitement, stress, anxiety, exhaustion, happiness, franticness, gratitude, sprinkled with the occasional, “I don’t have anything to wear” sometimes in that exact order! Vacations and trips are a gift and packing for them should be part of the fun and an adventure in itself! Please use this as a guide to packing for your spring break, weekend away, or a full blown vacation!
45 Days Out … Consider how you’re traveling.
- Traveling by train or plane? Be sure to check on luggage fees, weight limits, and carry-on regulations.
- Traveling by car? Think about everything you will have to pack in the vehicle other than luggage so you have an idea of what your personal packing limits are. Remember … if you have extra room, that doesn’t mean you need to fill it with stuff! :)
45 Days Out … Decide what you are going to use for luggage.
- Take inventory of your current luggage. Do you need to buy something new to fit your needs? Options … a suitcase, duffle bag, carry-on tote, backpack, purse (messenger, cross body, or hobo handbag). Use a small suitcase or carry-on if you can. If you need a larger suitcase make sure it has wheels (4 are the best). If you don’t have enough room you’ll be forced to eliminate the unnecessary but that can be a good thing.
- Are your bags in sufficient condition? High quality luggage allows you to pack lighter, smarter, and easier. Pieces should have an adequate amount of pockets and storage as well as reinforced seams. If your current luggage does not do that, then it may be worth the investment to replace. Note … if you do purchase additional luggage, make sure it fits your ethical standards such as made in the USA, fair trade certified, or made with recycled content and/or organic fabrics. Also, be sure to properly recycle, donate, or sell your old luggage. Just because it doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean it won't work for someone else! :) While you're at it purchase some luggage that has a crazy cool pattern or color so it’s easily recognizable at baggage claim!
30 Days Out … Reflect on what you plan on packing. Did you check out our post on packing the essentials?
- Think about your trip activities. What percentage of the trip will you be hiking, laying on the beach, shopping, touring, etc. This will get you thinking about the kinds of clothing you will need.
- Pack the bare minimum! If worst comes to worst and you forget something you can buy it. Vacations and travel are supposed to be fun and relaxing but it’s a downer if you’re weighed down by tons of luggage and unnecessary stuff.
- Make your own travel size toiletries by purchasing small glass containers to fill. You can reuse them when you return and you are avoiding plastic containers.
- Pack items that you love to wear and that make you feel good! For maximum versatility make sure your clothing, accessories, and shoes are all mix and match.
- Write it down. Make a list of everything you need to pack in your suitcase, carry-on, and purse.
- Tip … On one page sketch in general terms what you will be doing for each morning, afternoon, and evening your gone (including travel time) then make your packing list according to your timeline.
- Tip … We’ve found it helpful to write a little note next to each item of clothing or accessories to remind us of its status. For example: Ready, Wash, Replace, or Buy. Better yet, make a Pinterest board of what you’re packing and/or buying!
10 Days Out … Take a look at the 10 day forecast.
- Make changes to your packing list accordingly.
10 Days Out … Take action on tip #2 from above.
- Lay out your clothes and items that are ready to go so you don’t wear or use them between now and time to pack. Wash, replace, or buy items if needed.
5-7 Days Out … Time to pack!
- Carry-on/Purse: Keep the chargers/cords for the electronics you will have with you wrapped and packed in a wristlet or zip clutch! You’ll avoid a tangled mess and you’ll have what you need in case there is a delay.
- Suitcase: Like the chargers/cords issue mentioned above, you may have a jewelry tangling issue. Do the same, pack them in a wristlet or zip clutch. Save room by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. Pack fragile items in your shoes or roll them up in your socks. Clean the bottom of your shoes so you don’t get your clothing dirty. Last … leave some room in your luggage for souvenirs!
- *Note … It is common for people to use zip lock bags for items like chargers and toiletries but it’s best to avoid waste and instead use beautiful little bags that add style to your life.
2 Days Out ... Home Stretch! (Yes, 2 days out so you are not stressed out the night before.)
- Get cash, charge your tech, double check your tickets, bags, itinerary, reservations, and any other travel arrangements. Download tickets or reservations to your phone (print if you must). Lay out your travel outfit and set your luggage by the door.
The Day Of … Don’t Forget!
- Don’t forget to pack your toiletries in your suitcase and grab your phone and purse. Double check to make sure your have your identification, passport, cash, credit cards, and insurance cards.
There is something liberating about leaving all the unnecessary items behind and packing only what matters and is needed.
Comment below and tell us your tips, tricks, and nuggets of wisdom about packing.