Packing Tips

By Christina VanGinkel

If you are planning a vacation of any length, packing for it can quickly become an unpleasant task at a time when most things about it should be fun. It is what is often referred to as a necessary evil. Nobody really likes to do it except for an odd few, but most would not mind it as much if they at least had an idea of how to accomplish it. To try to bring some semblance and less stress to the activity, there are steps to take to make it as simple as possible.

Make a List

Make a list outlining how many days you will be gone, where to, and if you have any idea of schedules or stops, include those details too. A list maker by habit, for me, it makes it easier to plan if I have a visual in front of me for reference to work from initially. From this list, I will build my secondary and most important list, from which I will pack. For example, if I know I am going to be spending three days pool side, I know I need my swimsuit, and if I am going to be living alongside of the pool for that same span of time, I know two suits is much more reasonable. I also know I need my flip-flops. If dinners other than room service are planned, I consider the types of restaurants we will be frequenting, and consider if they have a dress code. I also leave the list out in an accessible spot so that I can add to it easily in the days building up to my trip. This way, it is much harder to forget to bring something along.

Lay it all Out

Once I have my packing list complete, I lay out everything in similar groups. Items such as shoes are individually bagged, even if they are clean going into the luggage, just in case they are not on the way home. I go over the contents of my toiletry bag, and double check that I have separate containers for anything that might leak. I actually use heavy-duty Ziploc freezer bags. That way if anything does leak, it is contained and the chance of it leaking through and staining anything else in my luggage is decreased. As I pack, I then check items off the list, and in this way, I am assured that I am not forgetting anything important.

Tag It

If I am packing abnormally shaped items, or anything fragile, such as my laptop, I double-check the zippers and locks to make sure all is in good order. I also make sure everything is labeled and tagged. My sister-in-law always makes sure each bag has a similar, but odd zip tie. They can be different colored, but otherwise all the same. For instance, I forgot to add anything to my son’s luggage on his recent trip to visit her, and when he arrived, back home, each of his bags had a small woven ball made to loop through a zipper’s end. They were in various colors, but they made it easy to spot each of his bags on the turnstile at the airport.

Pack and Extra Bag

If my destination is a place that I am likely to bring home extras from, I also pack an extra bag itself, something that can be easily folded up and tucked into the bottom of my luggage that I am using until I need it. This way I can avoid the cost of having to purchase a bag at the last minute for more than I would normally be willing to pay. I also will tuck an extra bag that could be used as a carry-on, a bit bigger than my usual small bag. Again, if I find myself heading home with more than I left with, I do not the worry of finding a bag or two that will be sufficient for my needs.

The biggest thing to remember is that a bit of planning where your packing is concerned will go far toward having a good trip. There is nothing more annoying than arriving at your destination and realizing that you forgot something basic and needed!

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