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After rummaging through the entire suitcase, I sat back and sighed. It was day one of our honeymoon, and I just discovered my husband forgot to pack his tennis shoes. Now, instead of sightseeing, we would have to spend a good chunk of the day shoe shopping (which I hate). This is what happens when you don’t know how to pack better for vacation.
Fortunately, I have learned some things over the years so this doesn’t happen now. Today, I’m sharing what I’ve learned with you.
Here are 9 quick and easy packing tips so you don’t waste time and money on your next vacation replacing forgotten shoes or fixing other silly mistakes.
#1: Use a packing list.
The first and most important way to pack better for vacation is to simply use a packing list. This way, you can ensure you don’t forget anything you need for your trip.
Now, if you don’t already have a universal packing list, then spend a few minutes thinking about what you need during your vacation. Write it all down on a piece of paper. Then cross things off as you put them in your suitcase.
Be sure you write everything on your list, including phone chargers, accessories, toiletries, and medication. If it’s not on your list, you are more likely to forget it.
And remember, once something is in the suitcase, it doesn’t come out before leaving for your trip. That’s how we forgot my husband’s shoes. He took them out of the suitcase and forgot to put them back.
If you travel more than once every 3 or 4 years, I recommend creating a universal packing list. This is the ultimate packing list that includes any and everything you would ever need for any trip. It contains winter clothes, summer clothes, and everything in between.
Once you have a universal packing list, you can easily print it off when it’s time to pack. Cross off the things you won’t need for this particular trip and add in anything special you need. Then start packing. It prevents you from having to create a packing list each time you travel.
#2: Pack a laundry bag.
Nobody wants to mix their dirty clothes in with their clean clothes. So, to prevent this and avoid forgetting your favorite shirt when it’s time to come home, pack a laundry bag.
Laundry bags fold flat and don’t take up much space in your suitcase. During your trip, you can store all of your dirty clothing in it. When it’s time to return home, throw the entire laundry bag into your suitcase.
Once at home, you can take the laundry bag straight to the washing machine, which makes unpacking super easy.
#3: Use packing cubes.
Packing cubes are very popular these days, and for good reason. They keep your suitcases organized, making it very easy to find what you need, when you need it.
They keep your clothes nice and neat, no matter how many times your suitcase gets tossed around in transit. And, if you are sharing a suitcase with another family member, they are an easy way to keep your clothes separated from each other’s.
I use Veken brand packing cubes, and highly recommend them. Each person in my family has a set in a different color. The Veken sets also come with a matching laundry bag. So, each person’s dirty clothes are also separated.
#4: Put liquids in Ziploc bags.
One of the worst packing disasters you can have is for your shampoo or lotion to burst in your suitcase, ruining all your clothes. You may not be able to prevent it from bursting, but you can prevent it from getting all over your clothes.
The solution is to put all liquids in Ziploc bags before packing them in your suitcase. This way, if one breaks open, the mess is contained in the Ziploc bag. And everything else in your suitcase stays clean.
I usually pack a few different bottles in each bag, but you could pack them individually. Once sealed in a Ziploc bag, I can put all our toiletries in the suitcase with confidence, knowing they won’t mess up our clothes.
#5: Pack an extra outfit for everyone.
Next on our list of ways to pack better for vacation is to pack an extra outfit for each person in the family.
You never know when the unexpected will happen. So, it’s a good idea to be prepared with an extra set of clothes (including underwear and socks!)
Then, if your child spills spaghetti in his lap, or you get caught in the rain without an umbrella, or someone gets sick all the sudden, you can easily put on clean clothes and avoid a mad dash to buy new clothes or find a washing machine.
#6: Check the weather.
One of the most practical ways to pack better for vacation is to check the weather for your destination. While it may sound obvious, many people forget to check and then pack the wrong type of clothes.
You never know when Mother Nature will throw you a curveball while on vacation. So, check the weather before you start packing to ensure you take the appropriate clothing.
#7: Pack a small first aid kit.
Many times while we are traveling, my husband will get hit with a migraine that stops us in our tracks. So, I’ve learned to pack a small first aid kit that includes band-aids, migraine medication, and a general pain reliever.
Then, when a small mishap happens, we don’t have to make a detour to a pharmacy. I can treat it in our hotel room without it interfering with our plans.
#8: Use shoes for extra space.
If you are like me, space in the suitcase is always at a premium. So, to pack better for vacation, gain extra space by packing things inside your shoes.
Shoes tend to take up a lot of space, but they make a perfect place for storing socks, bras, electronic cords, accessories, or even toiletries. Use that space wisely so you can get everything in the suitcase that you need.
#9: Pack extra Ziploc bags.
My last tip to pack better for vacation is to pack some extra Ziploc bags in a variety of sizes. These don’t take up any space in the suitcase and can be used for many different things.
I use them frequently to store wet swimsuits. They are also great for holding toys and games with multiple pieces, containing ticket stubs and other trip memorabilia, and more. I’m always glad to have them whenever the need arises while we are traveling.
Vacations with loved ones are fun, but not when you spend half your time running to the store to buy things you forgot to pack. These tips can save you time and money on your next trip by helping you pack better for vacation.
For more packing tips, see our genius packing tips for traveling with kids, how to pack for road trips like a pro, must-have unconventional travel items, and packing tips for Disney trips. And check out how to plan an epic family vacation. Happy travels!
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