I’m not sure exactly how old I was the first time I flew on an airplane, but I believe it was around six months old.
And due to my family moving overseas as a little girl, I’ve had my fair share of trips in my relatively short lifetime since then. I’m not what one would consider an expert on packing for a trip (that would be my husband), but I have picked up on a few tricks that have helped me tremendously in my travel preparations.
These will mostly apply to shorter trips, not necessarily long-term packing. However, I hope they’ll help in some capacity for the next time you need to prep for a trip.
1. Pack Your Cosmetics Right After Using Them
A few years ago I realized that I would almost always forget one of my essential cosmetic items, whether that was eyeliner or a blush brush. So, instead of relying on my sometimes sketchy memory, I decided to “pack as I went.” Meaning, right after the last time I would need to apply my makeup before traveling, I would use it and put it straight into my cosmetic travel bag (this is especially helpful with makeup and hair tools).
As an add-on to this, I also keep a travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, and any other toiletry I might need so that I’m not scrambling to try to get them into travel-sized containers right before heading out the door. It’s been a lifesaver.
2. Pick Out and Pack Outfits Early
This tip has especially come in handy with kiddos. It’s easy to wait until the last minute to pack, only to discover some essential clothing item is missing. Then it’s an all-night laundry marathon. Now, some of this can’t be completely avoided, but I’ve found it really helpful to pack the clothes we’ll need a week or so early, and only wear the clothing that isn’t coming with us. That way if it gets dirty and there isn’t time to wash it it’s not as big of a deal.
I’ll also do this with diapers and wipes. I pack these ahead of time so that I’m not scrambling to have enough right before go-time. Sometimes I have to re-stock before we leave, but it’s a relief to know all the ones we’ll need for a good part of travel are already accounted for (and I know there will be a supply waiting for us when we return).
3. Coordinate Outfits
I’ve been guilty of both over-packing and underpacking. But one way I’ve discovered helps me to streamline my packing is to have somewhat of a capsule wardrobe; meaning, most – if not all – the clothing you bring can be mixed and matched. It assures you that you will have outfit options as well as no random clothing items that don’t match anything else. Sometimes this isn’t totally possible, especially if you are going to need workout clothes and a formal outfit, but sticking with that as much as possible really comes in handy. I also try to do this with my shoes; I try to find one or two pairs that will go with all my outfits. Shoes are bulky, so it also helps to conserve space.
If you enjoy variety, you can pack accessories that don’t take much space, but can help to change the look of an outfit.
Now, I need to add a caveat to this point: for the essential items (especially shirts and underwear), it’s a good idea to pack just one more than you think you’ll need. Too many times in the name of being streamlined in my packing (especially for my kids) have I found myself in a situation where there are no extras when extras are desperately needed. So, pack practically, not just for space, but planning for the unexpected as well.
4. Less is More
When it comes to knick knacks for entertainment during travel, it’s so tempting to pack a whole bunch of things to try to keep ourselves or our kids busy. But I’ve regretted those extra odds and ends every time we’ve leaned on the “more” side, whether it’s a million toys to try to keep track of or the five books in my carry-on I was sure I would read that just end up causing a stiff neck.
So, instead of packing 12 books I pack 1 or two in each child’s backpack that I know are the favorites. Or, I pick out a brand new coloring book or small white board that can be used over and over.
When deciding which few items to bring for my kids, I ask myself this question:
Is this something (or similar to something) that has already shown to hold their interest for a long time? This helps to provide a filter for which items I bring and which I leave behind.
So, there you have it! My top four packing tips.
I also want to add a little endnote to this. I know how much information is out there for planning and organizing and decorating, and how overwhelming it can all be. There can be a huge bait for discouragement when it looks like everyone else has all their little ducks in a row from a post like this. Well, let me encourage you: you don’t need all your ducks in a row to rest in Jesus. Yes, these tips can have their place to enable greater organization. But our organization in life is not where our worth lies. And, even when it looks like everyone has it all together, remember this: Jesus is the only perfect person who has ever lived. We can learn from one another, but we should never idolize each other, remembering each of us are growing and learning (and just to set the record straight, there are shoes all over our living room and a pile on the counter that needs to be sorted). I’m learning right along with you as we seek to live our lives excellently for God’s glory.
If this post was helpful for you, would you consider sharing it? Many thanks!