A little planning goes a long way for a happy vacation.
by Amanda LeBlanc
If you make it through the chaos of May with graduations, recitals, school programs and other activities, you deserve a break, maybe even a little vacation, but packing can be a chore. The good news is it doesn’t have to be!
Phase 1: The pre-plan
Like many moms, I pack not just for myself; I pack for the whole family. So how do I do it without wishing we weren’t even going on vacation? Well, I’ll tell you. My family and I are going on a trip in July. We will be gone for six nights and seven days. I have to pack for me, my husband and two kids. I begin the process with a notebook and pen. I know that we will each need seven outfits, one for each day and possibly three more for evening activities. I write each person’s name and a number from 1 to 10 on a piece of paper. If you are really organized, you can create a spreadsheet. I then write out the outfits next to each number. I try to reuse articles of clothing when I can. My kids may be able to wear a pair of jeans a couple of times to limit what I am packing. I also know that on a family vacation we will be taking a lot of pictures, and I want us to look good, so I try to make sure we are all wearing outfits that work well together and don’t clash. Listen, we are not the Von Trapps, but I don’t want my husband wearing orange stripes while one daughter is in pink flowers and the other daughter is in navy plaid. OK, I may be a little extreme, but it’s not like you didn’t know that! These family photos will be around forever, so take a few extra minutes to think about what you want them to look like.
After each outfit is written down, I write next to them anything I need with each outfit; e.g., shoes, jewelry, special undergarments, etc. After all of my outfits are written down for each person, I know what needs to be ready for packing. You can take that list into the closet to make sure those items are washed, dry cleaned or ironed. If they need to be cleaned, you want to have plenty of time before you need to pack to get that taken care of. How horrible to find out your favorite white pants are at the cleaners the night before you leave town!
The next list is a standard packing list I made years ago. I have this list on my computer, and every so often I update it. This is a list of toiletries, electronics and toys that we take on every trip. With these two lists, I can pack with ease, but that’s not the end for me, and it shouldn’t be for you either.
Phase 2: Putting it all together
OK, so now you have your lists and your suitcase, and it’s time to pack. Do you know what else you need? You need zip-lock bags! They come in every shape and size, and I love them all. I had a client years ago who showed me how she packs for a family of four in two suitcases with zip-lock bags. I was amazed and immediately had to try it. I pack undies for each child in small bags. I write each child’s name on the front of the bag along with the contents. Socks go in another small zip-lock bag. Then I take several small categories that go together like undergarments and place them in a larger zip-lock. I squeeze them all tight to press out the air and make the packing smaller. This saves a good bit of room in the suitcase. Another way to use zip-locks for packing is to place everything you need for an outfit in a bag and label it by day or outfit. Either way, this is a space and time saver when traveling. My kids know exactly where to get items from the suitcase, and with a list I have checked off, I am sure not to forget anything. Safe travels!