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Packing for a Vacation

As a young child I always dreamed of leaving for our annual beach vacation early in the morning. Climbing into our car, while still dark, seemed like an exciting way to begin a vacation. But, my father, being the perfectionist that he was, spent hours arranging and rearranging the suitcases before he tied them to the top of the car. Much to my disappointment, we would eventually pull out of our driveway mid morning with the sun shining brightly in the sky. My poor mother had to keep an eye out on my now exhausted father, afraid that he would fall asleep while driving!

Packing for a trip can be stressful, especially if left until the last minute. While traveling by air versus by car may require different research and preparation, the following general packing tips will provide great ideas to give you an organized start to any vacation!

Prepare a packing list ahead of time and eliminate unnecessary items by researching what may or may not be provided by your accommodation. For example, is it really necessary to take a hairdryer when your hotel room provides that item? To avoid having to recreate this, keep a copy for the next time that you travel. Also, remember to get a local weather report a few days prior to departure. Adding a sweater or jacket to your list will prevent you unnecessarily purchasing one at your destination if the weather is going to be cooler than expected.

Lighten your load by purchasing travel size toiletries and store them in a travel bag. The example below shows one that folds up compactly for travel and then unfolds to hang on a towel bar, hook or doorknob in your hotel bathroom.

Reduce the bulk of carrying full bottles of medications and vitamins by using Medicine Storage Boxes that contain seven or fourteen mini compartments. If you are flying, make sure to carry your medications and other important papers in your carryon bag.

Prevent wrinkles by using dry cleaner plastic bags. Pack one hanging item per bag and your clothes will arrive wrinkle free! Use plastic grocery bags to isolate dirty shoes and Ziploc bags for shampoo and other items that may leak. Take a few extra plastic bags to accommodate dirty clothes on your trip home.

Roll your non-hanging clothes to save space and reduce wrinkles. For jeans, fold them lengthwise, so that the legs are stacked on top of each other. Starting from the bottom, roll them all the way up. For t-shirts, place them face down, fold the arms back so that you have a long rectangle, fold again lengthwise and then roll up. Another option is to plan ahead exactly what outfit you will wear each day and roll or hang an entire outfit together!

Use a nylon mesh bag to store your under garments and lingerie. Stuff your socks or other small items into your shoes to save space.

Pack your suitcase as if it is a clothing jigsaw puzzle, with no empty spaces. Lay your bag flat and pack the heaviest items like your toiletry bags on the end of the bag that becomes the bottom once it is standing upright. In this way, it won't crush your clothes and it will prevent your suitcase from becoming top heavy and falling over.

Consider using a portable packing system (see below) that will allow you to unpack in seconds since your clothes are already organized on “shelves”. The shelves collapse when packed and then unfold as you hang the system on a closet rod or on the top of a door.

Plan ahead for the security line at airports by wearing easy to remove shoes, as little jewelry as possible and store electronics in an easy to access pouch. To eliminate a sore shoulder or back while walking around the airport, consider a carryon bag with wheels.

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