I dislike packing so much, that I am not enjoying writing the topic very much either. Wait. Don’t go anywhere. Just because the topic of packing makes me a bit grouchy, doesn’t mean it’s not an important one to discuss. Behind every other travel tale I’ve ever written about on this blog, is a well-packed suitcase. Or two.
I was never good at packing before I became a mom, and my shortcomings were only aggravated when my little travel companion (along with all his kiddie stuff) came into the picture. But I had to rise above my inability to make a packing list, carry small suitcases, and bring enough pairs of socks. It has been a learning process, but I’m just becoming more of a packing ace with every trip we take.
I haven’t packed a suitcase bigger than a carry-on for each of us for the last few years, even for trips longer than 2 weeks. I know some of you are not impressed by this, since you can travel the world for years with nothing but a backpack. But for the rest of you who haven’t stopped reading this post yet, I’m going to offer up some of my expertise.
Here’s how I pack it up.
1. I’m addicted to packing cubes. Initially, I bought packing cubes because I was looking for an alternative to disposable plastic bags. They have turned out to be a great investment. I just roll (this step is key) the clothes, fill the cubes, and easily stuff them into the suitcase. I like that I can separate items of clothing for my son and that I have different colors for his and mine. As an added bonus, the packing cubes easily come out of a suitcase and into the dresser drawer of a hotel room.
2. I choose the outfits wisely. I am not a fashionista when I’m at home, so I don’t pretend that I’m going to be one while on my trip. I pick a few basic colors for my clothes, take few shoes, and try to choose clothes that will wash easily. Luckily, my son would wear his favorite shirt every day if I let him, so he doesn’t have a hard time limiting the outfits he packs.
3. I prepare for the inevitable laundry. There is no way to pack light, travel for a lengthy period, and get away with not doing laundry. If you know of a way, please do share. I can’t afford to have the hotel do the laundry for me, so it usually means a lot of Woolite and hanging clothes to dry in the hotel bathroom. If the hotel has a washing machine on the premises (or even better, in your room) then you’ve got it made. The keys to washing clothes by hand are: to take clothes made out of materials that will dry quickly and to use a travel towel to wring them out. I love my travel towel so much, I could write a whole post about it. Stay tuned, I know you’re eagerly anticipating that post.
4. Seriously, we don’t have to take every toy we own. This rule goes for both me and my son. I realized I could live without my bulky laptop and he doesn’t have to take his baseball bat (although it may have come in handy while we were in the subways of NYC this summer). When my son was younger, I would pack up too many of his playthings for fear that he would get antsy and whiny. He never played with more than a few things, since we were always too busy on our travels. Besides, I found that it’s better to save room in his backpack for a few souvenirs.
5. If I didn’t pack it, I can always buy it when I get there. This mantra was the hardest one for me to learn and follow. I came to the realization that there were very few things that I absolutely couldn’t leave my home without (medications, documents, and my phone), everything else I could do without or just buy when I got there. I learned the hard way, that I don’t have to take enough cotton balls to fill half my suitcase.
Feel free to share any of your packing tips in the comments below. I’m always looking to improve my skills.
Linking up to Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursday.