Although I love saying, “Have toothbrush, will travel,” I need more in my suitcase than oral care tools and a passport! If you find packing for vacation scary enough to put you off leaving your house, check out how I pack with ease, then start planning your next vacay.
Pack the Right Clothes
Packing a suitcase efficiently depends upon the best choices in your clothes. I start by laying out more than I will need. Then, I pare down using our activities and resources as my guide, picking lighter and wrinkle resistant fabrics. Will I be staying somewhere with access to laundry, an iron, or sports equipment rental? Will there be stores, and will I have the time, to purchase what I might forget? How often can I repeat outfits, using travel-sized deodorizers to freshen my clothes? I repeat each pair of jeans or trousers twice, but not on consecutive days, using a variety of tops to obtain different looks. For destinations with warmer days and cooler nights, I bring one or two wrap around sweaters, instead of one for each night. I take one or two extra day’s worth of clothes just in case. If you’re a big shopper, do the opposite. Leave lots of room for new purchases. Keep your receipts for customs, and be aware of travel limits.
Make It Fit Without Sitting on Your Case
Most airlines allow for one suitcase per passenger. Use your child’s allowance to your advantage and travel with an additional full sized suitcase. A younger child’s clothes take up less room. Why waste space by giving your kid his own suitcase? Mix and match your family’s belongings in each of your bags. Here’s an added plus: if your luggage is misplaced, one person in the family isn’t completely without clothes. This insightful gem came after a flight to Zurich, when my son’s suitcase was sent to the wrong city. Thankfully, we stayed with family and he wore his older cousin’s clothes in the interim.
Start by laying out long pants along the bottom of the suitcase. Leave the lower third (or upper third, depending on your preference) hanging out of the suitcase. Use both ends when you have more than one pair of pants. When you’re done packing, flip the remaining part of the trousers over the contents of the suitcase, zip up, and you’re on your way. Some people promote tight folding, but I prefer to roll clothes to pack with ease. Tightly rolled clothes wrinkle less and provide more space in your luggage than loosely folded items. The increased stiffness of rolled clothes also helps protect breakables, which I store near the middle. Tuck smaller items like underwear, socks and travel-sized bottles into shoes, or even in the curve of padded bras. Use shoes to protect fragile items by placing one on each side. Pack bulky shoes far apart from each other and wrap with plastic for cleanliness as needed. Nest a small suitcase within a larger one if your shopping trip includes bringing back extra baggage. Then you only pay the excess for one direction of travel.
Have Suitcase, Will Hurl
Luggage isn’t treated gently once it leaves your hands. Between the jostling of luggage handlers to the expansion of air pockets during the flight, I like to plan for the worst. I squeeze out the air from bottles of liquid soaps and reseal caps tightly to reduce the risk of leakage. I wrap the containers in a plastic bag, even if they are in a travel kit, to keep spills away from the rest of the luggage. I pack toiletries next to items of clothing that won’t be ruined by accidental mess, such a t-shirts or shorts. If we’re staying in a hotel that has soaps, lotions and shampoos that I enjoy using, I don’t pack my own supplies.
Give Us Dirty Laundry!
If you don’t have access to a launderette during your trip, pack a few dryer sheets in a sealed baggie. Put dirty laundry together with the dryer sheet in a plastic shopping bag. This keeps smelly odors away from cleaner clothes. If you don’t like dryer sheets, use facial tissues sprayed with your favourite perfume or deodorizer.
Don’t Forget Those Pesky Rules
When we travel to the UK for Christmas, we take pre-wrapped presents for family and friends. These don’t pack very economically. However, upon our return, we’ll then have space for gifts we’ve received. Airport security asks whether or not you know the contents of your luggage. If you have wrapped gifts, you may be caught off guard. Ask gift givers to write down what they’ve given you and put in an envelope. That way, you have proof of the contents available for security and customs. Gifts count toward the total amount of valuables that you may bring into a country. Be honest and say that you have presents. Security expects it during certain times of the year. Keep in mind that regulations prohibit the transportation of any replica or real weapons (without proper documentation), including toys. Carry on fluids are still limited by volume and content. You should always check with your airline or government transport website (Canada / USA) for the latest regulations.