Vacation Preparation Part 2: Packing

You’ve made it through part 1 of the vacation process and now you are feeling ready! The dates are set, hotel is booked, transportation arranged, and you are probably starting to get excited for the upcoming trip, regardless of how far out the actual destination is. I am a firm believer that you should always have something to be looking forward to, and what is better than a booked vacation when it comes to that! Next step comes the packing, and I know what your thinking, I don’t leave for x number of days/weeks/months, I’m not ready to start packing am I?? We’ll you may not be ready to start physically putting items into those suitcases, but it may be a great time to start thinking about what you need to pack for the trip.

I know, more planning, right? But I promise you that having an early planning game, including on packing, will make things easier for multiple reasons in the future, here is why…

1. Cost Savings

Items purchased at nearly any vacation destination, even if it’s just to a local hotel, will come at a premium cost. Bringing the essentials, and even some unessentials along with you in your luggage will likely save you a pretty penny. Meaning that you will have more money in your pocket to check out some additional extras, or even save for your future vacays.

2. Space is limited

I know this seems a little counterintuitive after looking at item one. But unfortunately, it is rare, even if you are planning to drive to your destination, that space is unlimited. And if you are flying you can probably forget about it. This is why up-front planning for packing is crucial. Especially if your family essentials include things that others may not have to worry about, like specific foods fir your picky eater, medicines or must have security items for comfort. Plan to save on space and weight that will give you the biggest return, like shoes and bulky clothes. For your bulkiest items plan to rewear or wash when you can or try and wear your heavier items on the travel down. It is rare that I go anywhere without bring at least a light jacket and one pair of long pants because I am cold blooded, and kids tend to run cold as well. But wearing our one set of lengthier items and bulky tennis shoes means lots of saved space and weight in the luggage. Also, distributing weight and shifting packed materials to “personal items” can help with this as well. Always plan to maximize what you use as your “personal item” on a flight since it is one of the few items you can get at no extra cost. Hence, don’t waste your personal item on a small bag or purse, book bags are a must more efficient use of your space. 

3. Items that take time to get

I am not a huge fan of buying souvenirs and a lot of stuff on property, especially when I can get the majority of it somewhere else ahead of time (ahem…item one). But on the other side, I am one of those mom’s that loves the somewhat over the top, matchy-matchy outfits and things of that nature for our crew. You know the kind of stuff my husband shakes his head about when he finds out I have ordered. Generally, for those who intend on acquiring items like this, whether you are going through a place like Etsy or someone local that is able to create what you are looking for, it will take some time to get it. So, plan ahead and order with plenty of time to arrive with even some extra wiggle room for mistakes when you can.

4. Day of travel essentials

This is another big area that will benefit from some good preplanning, especially for small kiddos and our kiddos on the spectrum. Personally, the day of travel, both to and from are the hardest and most stressful of the whole trip. So have items ready to deal with this accordingly. For our trips I always pack each child their own individual backpack. I put extras that are helpful for packing purposes in the bottom and make sure any items they would want to use during the travel time are as easily accessible as possible. Bring plenty of snacks, entertainment items such as toys or electronics, things to help with sensory inputs like noise cancelling headphones, etc. giving each child their own individual bag of needed items you eliminate the issues of them not being able to access what they need right away and potentially causing a meltdown. There is no extra searching and whichever adult we have seated near the child knows that they have direct access to what may help the child in the child’s associated bag. No extra searching, waiting, or stress required.

I personally like to have everything I plan to need for a trip on hand at least a couple weeks out from departure time and  start physically packing all that I can about a week ahead. Overpacking is a superpower of mine so giving myself that extra time to pack means I have time to see that I have went a bit overboard and decide what I can pair back on. I still normally pack too much, but I can proudly tell my husband it is always less than I started with. Certain destinations lighten the packing load a bit. Driving vs Flying, Domestic vs. International, laundry available vs. not, all may play a role in what you will consider “essential” to be packed as well. What I hope you take away from this is that procrastination on packing can easily make for a very rough start to a trip. Do yourself a favor and do what you can now to make for a less stressful packing situation later.