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It’s that time of year in the northern hemisphere…people are gearing up for summer vacations! I always find heading out of town to be super exciting! However, packing for a getaway is sometimes super stressful! I’m often asked how to make the task of packing less daunting. I’m happy to assist! I LOVE packing for a trip. Love it! I have been lucky enough to travel quite often in my adult life. As a result, I’ve fine-tuned my packing style to reduce stress and have me ready for ‘wheels up’ in no time!
Soon, I'll be heading out of town for two weeks. I’ll be in New York City, Pennsylvania and Virginia Beach. Want to follow along on my travels?
I'd love that!
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Okay, here are my top tips to make packing easier and more efficient...
It all starts with the proper bag. If you have a great bag that fits your needs, that’s half the battle. I like a rolling, carry-on-sized, soft suitcase.
There are lots of other options; duffle bags, hard-shell suitcases, garment bags, larger check-only pieces...but I’ve learned that those don’t work best for me.
If you’d like to know more about the other choices, I’d suggest that you ask someone you know who travels often, talk to the salesperson in your local travel store and read travel blogs for ‘expert’ opinions.
I use a Travel Pro suitcase. I purchased it at a luggage store in Exton, Pennsylvania about 6 years ago. It cost around $130....probably the best money I've ever spent on travel supplies! It is light when empty, well-made, durable and holds what I need.
I’ve recently discovered that there’s a Travel Pro Outlet website. Also check your local travel store or even Home Goods, Marshalls and TJ Maxx, as I've seen the brand there.
A small detour in this post:
I've been shopping for a new suitcase. Wow, they are expensive! My daughter is heading off to an internship and she'll need to transport more stuff than she takes for a typical vacation. I wanted to find a larger suitcase that she can check through to her destination. I didn't want to spend $15o+
Yesterday, I stopped at my local Salvation Army store after work to see if they had any decent suitcases.
The universe had my back...I scored a Delsey rolling garment bag for...
$14.99. This bag looks brand new! No odor, no wear, no stains. It's perfect for our needs right now. Don't underestimate the treasures that can be found at resale shops:-)
Okay, back to the real post...
Here are my tips for selecting a carry-on suitcase-
1. Make sure it fits in overhead compartments - The correct size bag allowable as carry-on luggage is usually labeled as ‘suitable for carry-on’ and ‘FAA approved’.
2. Pick one with 'spinner' wheels - This might be my top tip! These bags have four wheels instead of two. They are much easier to manage and they don’t seem to tip over as easily. My back and neck tend to strain when I pull a suitcase behind me...spinner bags can be pushed upright at your side. Game-changer.
3. Bag Basics-
Select a bag with some pockets and compartments, but not too many.
I like a big, flat zippered pocket on the outside to hold magazines and flat shoes/sandals and a few compartments/pockets inside- I tuck jewelry pouches and a lint roller into these small pockets.
An expansion zipper to make the bag larger for when you return home with some extra items and need more room:-)
A sturdy, easily collapsible handle.
A bag that's lightweight when empty, so you aren't carrying any unnecessary weight.
And...I like a color other than black so my bag is easy for me to recognize.
Also...carrying your luggage onto the plane makes it last much longer because it isn't being bashed around with all the other bags.
What’s inside -
Divide and Conquer
Use packing cubes! They are incredible and...if you happen to be a container junkie like me...they actually make packing fun. The ones I use are from Ikea. They are called Upptacka. A set of 4 different sizes is about $9. You can buy them other places, but for the price, Ikea's are the best quality I've seen. Marshall's and TJ Maxx also have cubes at a decent price. I’ve found that Target and travels stores tend to be a bit more expensive.
Packing cubes make it easy to organize your clothing. I use one for undergarments/swimwear/socks...one for t-shirts and tanks...one for scarves, sweaters, workout clothing, etc.
I often pack what I'll need the first night in one cube...that way, if I'm exhausted when I arrive at my destination, I have everything in one place.
Jewelry often comes in a soft pouch when purchased. Never turn down these little treasures! I love these pouches for packing jewelry for travel.
Create a capsule wardrobe for your trip. Keep in mind, in most cases you don't need to wear a completely different outfit every day. Plan to wear most pieces at least 2-3 times during your travels. I find that I rarely change my clothes as often as I think I will. Many days, I'm in the same basic outfit from breakfast through dinner.
Accessories- Scarves and inexpensive jewelry will make outfits more interesting.
Layers- Be sure to have proper coverage for visiting religious spots. A few extra layering pieces will make it easier to dress for sudden temperature changes.
Dark colors are more forgiving with drips and spills.
Quick dry fabrics- Pick socks and undies in fabrics that can be rinsed out in the sink, if necessary and will dry quickly.
Comfortable shoes! You shouldn't need more than three pairs of shoes. They take up a lot of room. Be sure all of the shoes you take are very comfortable for walking all day...even if they aren't the most stylish shoes you own:-) I pack my shoes in plastic grocery bags. I have flannel shoe bags, but I find they don’t slip into place as easily and they take up a bit more room.
My go-to summer travel shoes are white low-top Converse and a pair of simple, comfortable sandals in a neutral color. And...I always pack running shoes...a drag with a size 10 foot because running shoes take up a lot of room!
Space savers: Always fill your shoes- I stuff mine with socks, hair brushes, jewelry pouches. Place belts around the inside edge of your suitcase.
Want more tips? Check out this video and this post.
Coming soon! I'm going to give myself a KonMari Check-Up! It's been almost a year since we decluttered our home using Marie Kondo's methods...it's time to re-evaluate:-)
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Vacation time for you? Safe and happy travels! I’d love to know where you’re heading...and what tips make your trips easier. Please share!
Let me know if you have any questions- firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much for reading!