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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Summer Packing Tips

Do you ever see those travelers who have one bag – that’s not even bulging! – that look super put-together and get right off the plane and into a cab and you wish you could be more like them? So often I’m walking through a hotel lobby or past the check-in desks at the airport and watch families that seem to bring everything they own on vacation with them, and I wonder how much they paid in baggage fees and chiropractor visits. It was not all that long ago that I thought I couldn’t live without taking individual outfits and a dozen pairs of shoes either. Once I realized I never wore half of what I packed, I decided to downsize my packing. Then when airlines started charging for checked bags, I decided to downsize more.

packing light tips

When you fly to your destination, one of the easiest ways to save – time and money – is by traveling carry-on only. You don’t need much, even if you'll be traveling for a week or two, which means you can pack quickly, skip the airline counter check-in and ignore the baggage carousel upon arrival. I always have a packing list to help me keep the number of items down and also to make sure I don’t forget any of the essentials. I know when I get to my destination I can probably buy whatever I missed packing, but I’m adamantly against spending money for things I already have. Here’s how to build your packing list:

mix and match

Mix and match

As always, when you coordinate all your clothing, it’s super easy to pack in a carry-on. Three bottoms and five tops can make fifteen outfits. Don’t forget that what you wear in transit can also be rotated in as needed. And shoes! You should take two pair – max. Make sure they are both comfortable enough to walk in all day. I had a coworker who told me that she had 16 pairs of shoes she wanted to take with her to Mexico on a four day tripSixteen! I don’t even think that many shoes would fit in my carry-on and if they did, there would be no room for anything else, except maybe socks and underwear. Her trip was for a wedding, so aside from what she needed for the ceremony, she could have survived with a sun dress, a pair of shorts, her bathing suit and some flip flops. Learning to pack efficiently is important and can save you a ton.

That’s it. Think about what you truly need with you for three or four days and be realistic. Don’t play the “what if” game. What if I go out to a fancy dinner? What if it gets really cold? What if I want to go clubbin’? Did you plan for those things? Do you normally just change plans at the last minute? Sometimes it seems like it might be harder to pack for a short trip than a long one, but with some practice, it can be super simple. Just think, if you don’t bring something that you thought you could live without, by the time you miss it, you’ll probably already be back home.

Prepare to do laundry

I hear you groaning and whining, “But I’m on vacation!” I’m aware. I go on vacation, too. I also do laundry on my vacation. When you take so little, unless you want to walk around in dirty – and possibly stinky – clothes, you will want to throw them in the wash at some point. Most decent hotels and vacation rentals (my personal preference) have laundry facilities. You can pop your clothes in on your way to dinner or when you get back from sightseeing and just want to sit and rest your feet. It will take much less time than you think and then you smell fresh the next day.

If your accommodation doesn’t have on-site laundry, you will normally find a Laundromat nearby. I have hoofed it down the street for clean clothes. I take a book or game for my husband and I to play while we wait and then we take our freshly laundered duds back to the room and get on with our trip. If you are at a destination long enough to need to do laundry, you will have enough downtime to do it.

Downsize your toiletries

How long does it take you to go through a full-size bottle of shampoo? Two months? So why take that big thing with you on your vacation? TSA rules allow you to bring a one-quart plastic bag full of three-ounce bottles. If your problem is that you can’t find your same shampoo, conditioner, facial scrub, hairspray or whatever else in a travel-size container, make your own. Purchase small bottles, pumps, vials or jars and decant your favorite items into them. This gives you just the right amount you need for your trip and allows you to take them with you in your carry-on. If you’re one that needs to carry beauty tools with you, like a flat iron or curling iron, purchase a mini version specifically for your travel bag. You can normally find the same brand you use at home that works just as well, only smaller. I love my mini flat iron so much, I almost want to use it instead of my full-size one at home. It takes up half the space in my bag too. 

Streamline your beauty routine

Don’t stuff your toiletry bag full. Your objective here is to pack as little as possible. Look for make-up palettes and multipurpose products that will enable you to pack less. Here's how to perfect your 3-1-1 bag.

It’s really true what they say: Lay out all the clothes you want to pack and then put half back in your closet. I make packing even easier by creating a detailed packing list. This can help you see if you have way more than you really need, reminds you of the essentials – like underwear! – and helps you repack on the way home. When you travel with an organized carry-on, not only do you save money on baggage fees, but it helps your trips go smoother, so you only have to worry about what to do first when you get to your destination.

Where is everyone going on vacation this summer? We'll be off to Vegas and in the Fall we'll be taking a trip St. Thomas.

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