Get Packing!


Aug 24, 2010

When I am going on a trip I like to start packing 4-5 days early so I can reduce my travel stress and avoid over packing.  Chris and I share the large bag and then we each have our own carry on.

I typically don’t put anything in them until 3 days prior to my trip but having them out and open helps mentally prepare me for the pack.  The first things I pack are things that can easily be forgotten like pajamas, work out clothing, and my swimsuit. Three nights before I begin to lay out some outfits and two days before I will pack the shoes and accessories.  On the final day before I leave I take a final pass through the suitcase to remove things that might be duplicates, add things from the laundry, and on the morning of the flight I will pack the last of my cosmetics and head to the airport.

I love traveling with sample size cosmetics to save room in my suitcase and avoid losing anything too expensive if my baggage gets lost. As you can tell I am a sucker for gift with purchase!  I keep all of the little goodies in those gift packs in a little bin in my bathroom so I can easily pop them in my cosmetic bag for overnight trips.

What do you do to prepare for a long trip?  Do you have any tips for organizing your suitcase and determining what to pack?  Please leave a comment in the comment section and enjoy more of my packing and travel tips…

  • Coordinate your outfits so the larger items like jackets, sweaters, and shoes can be worn more than once.
  • Create a travel calendar and write down the events you are planning to attend.  Once complete, organize the events by casual, dressy, sporty etc.. so you can determine how many outfits you actually need.
  • Create a travel checklist, jot down all of the items you need to bring and check them off while you pack, this will help you stay on task.
  • If you need to purchase a few items for your trip do it two to three weeks in advance.  When you leave the shopping to the last minute you risk over spending and buying items that you will never wear.
  • If you need someone to get your mail, watch your pets, or water your yard while you are away, coordinate it at least 3 to 4 weeks ahead of time.  Create envelopes for each service and tuck cash inside so you can pay your helpers right before you leave or after you get back and avoid spending your travel money.
  • Create a travel budget and try to pay for as many things ahead of time so you don’t come back from your trip with a huge credit card bill.
  • Make double batches of easy meals like soup, macaroni and cheese, and goulash that you can freeze ahead of time.  Defrost them for healthier inexpensive dinners the last few nights before your trip.  This will help you avoid any pre-vacation bloat because you won’t have to order take-out.


  • Yvonne Ohumukini Urness

    I use small (4×4 inch and smaller) heavy-duty ziploc bags for liquids such as shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, cleanser, lotion/moisturizer, etc. I label each one and they fit easily into a quart-sized ziploc bag for carry-on travel. Because they're flexible, they fit around any other hard plastic containers (i.e. hairspray) in the quart-sized bag. And since I usually only pack what I need for the trip, I can toss the small ziplocs and travel lighter on the way home (though I most often reuse them).

    I also create a spreadsheet that lists the days I'll be traveling at the top and create rows for Daywear (top/bottom/shoes/accessories) and Eveningwear (top/bottom/shoes/accessories). It's easy to see where there are opportunities to use the same items so I don't overpack.

    I once went to a week-long conference in Honolulu with just a carry-on!

  • Jena Mattison

    Good tips! Lately my husband and I are coming up with clever ways to reduce the amount of shoes we need to pack. They take up so much space and can really “heavy up” a suitcase. Planning outfits that can be worn with the same shoes helps and wearing the bulky ones on the travel day saves space too. We've also learned (the hard way) to pack appropriate socks to go with your footwear options – contrary to man rules, white socks are NOT wedding attire!

  • Narf

    We're heading to Poland for two weeks next week and love to travel. I discovered the joy of the Very Large Zip Loc bags for all my clothes. I stick to solid-colored skirts–khakis, black, etc. and mainly solid shirts too.

    I roll the skirts and place them side-by-side in the bag, and then suck the air out of it with a straw. Do the same thing for shirts, although I fold them and stack them three to a bag. Suck air out of them too. Underwear goes in the bags too.

    Don't over pack. You can always buy something at your destination. Too, I take a soft, cozy blanket for the plane.

    I love your blog Mandy. Fran

  • Sourkraut

    Great tips! I especially like the one about preparing meals ahead of time. I'll need to try that next time and leave myself a few extra for when I return and am too tired to cook or find there's no food in the house with which to cook. Spotted your link at Fingerprints on the Fridge.

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