Monday, February 8, 2016

7 New Packing Tips

Packing Tips
from our tribe of 6

1. Prioritize

Medical items and shoes that have already been broken in are a priority. 
International outlet adaptors may be a priority for you.
4 of us are women with longer hair, so we prioritize a single curling iron.

6 pairs of pants are not a priority. If things get dire, hit up a 2nd hand shop when you get there and buy a few new clothes. You may find a couple of things you love and want to take home. My eldest daughter has a beautiful blouse from our last trip to Los Angeles. She wears it constantly and it reminds her of our trip. As for everything else...

2. Share books 

Books are heavy.

Choose a book that nobody in your group has read - something that interests all of you. Pass it around rather than packing a separate book for each person! At the end of the trip, if everyone's read it, leave it behind. Put it on a bus bench or a chair in the lobby of your hotel and let someone else find it. You don't need to lug it around with you once everyone's had a chance to enjoy it. Having this kind of "Travel Book Club" will give you all something to talk about on your flight home and it will lighten everyone's load. 

3. Mail stuff home 

This takes a bit of time, so it's more of a last resort. If you're going to be away from home for 2 weeks or longer, it's wonderful to get to the point where you can start mailing home boxes of dirty laundry that you don't want to lug home in your bags. Just remember that unless your hotel has a mail service, you're going to have to arrange for pick up or take a trip to the post office in order to make this work. 

4. Plan do to laundry once a week while you're away

Pack your own detergent.

The Purex 3-in-1 sheets are my favorite.
They lay flat and can be tossed into your luggage in a large Ziploc bag or small wetbag.

Long trips are our specialty, but we don't pack enough clothing to last us for more than a week. That would be heavy and ridiculous! Most hotels or cruise ships have a laundromat. If yours doesn't, find a local laundromat and go spend a couple of hours there. It'll save you tons of luggage space and you'll get to wear your favorite outfit twice as much on vacation! Laundry time is a great time to catch up on reading or responding to the emails you've been avoiding. If you've got kids, let one adult take them swimming while the other does the laundry.

5. Each person does not need their own bag

In fact, each person shouldn't have all of their stuff in one bag. 

If you have your own bag, you will inevitably feel required to fill it. You don't need all of that stuff and you're going to lament that you should have packed less when you're lugging it to and from the bag check at the airport. Even worse, let's imagine for a second that your bag gets lost. If every single item you packed was in a single bag, you're going to have a miserable time. Each person you're traveling with should have at least one outfit in each bag your group is checking. Swimsuits should be in your carry-on bag. If you're taking a cruise, you may want to lounge at the pool while you're waiting for your checked bags to arrive in your stateroom. This is much easier if your swimwear is in your carry-on! You'll avoid the crowds by getting to the pool while everyone else is waiting for their swimwear to arrive. 

6. Do not buy trinkets you won't use

I don't take jewelry with me when I travel.

$8; street market in the south of Costa Rica

If anything, I tend to trade out my wedding ring for a plain silver band so I can leave my nice ring at home. Do I accessorize when I travel? Absolutely. I opt to buy a couple of nice accessories each time a travel. I don't buy many souvenirs. Our family doesn't believe in buying dust collecting items. If you'll use it, bring it home. If you won't, don't. Our favorite travel finds have been our ukulele (from a music shop in Maui, not from a trinket vendor) and some fun percussive instruments from all over the world. I love my jewelry from various places. I try to find one of a kind items. They make wonderful conversation pieces. I have been asked countless times where I found a piece of jewelry that I scooped up for less than $25 at a foreign marketplace. One of my goals for our day in Colombia later this year is to find a special neck tie and tie clip for my husband. Maybe your priority is kitchenware (handmade cocktail forks, anyone? One of a kind appetizer plates?) or frames for photographs. It could be a pair of beautiful shoes or some spices. Invest in what you will USE! 

Remember: If it's just going to sit around and collect dust, don't let it take up precious luggage space!

7. Wet bags

Luggage saving organizational wonders.

Can you tell that I prefer Planet Wise bags?
Planet Wise and Monkey Foot are the only two brands I trust.
They don't get ruined the first time you wash them.

I organize everything I can into wet bags when we travel. My first introduction to wet bags was when I adopted cloth diapering. They quickly became a staple in my life. They're like heavy duty, washable Ziploc bags! I use a small wet bag for my cosmetics; if something bursts, it doesn't end up all over our luggage. I use a small wet bag to separate any hygiene products for my kids; the bags aren't see-through so nobody gets embarrassed grabbing their bag from the luggage. The variety of available designs ensures that no two bags have to look alike! Going on a day trip? Throw your sunscreen in a wet bag. Going swimming? Bring a big one so you can haul everyone's wet stuff back to your room without dripping everywhere. I even use one to line my backpack during hikes. If everything inside gets gross, the backpack is still clean. You'll fall in love with wet bags. 

What are your favorite packing tips?
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