This past weekend, my family attended the wedding of one of my best friends.
But we didn't just 'go' to the wedding; we were ALL in it! It was a bridal party family affair - I was a bridesmaid, my daughter was the flower girl, my son was the ring bearer and my husband, who also happens to be childhood best friends with the groom, was a groomsman.
Even though we had such instrumental roles to play, I was pretty confident that we were ready to go. After all, we already knew what we were all going to wear! So I kept them in my closet so the kids couldn't get to them (aka, ruin them).
We planned to leave on Thursday, so I decided to start packing on Monday. But then Monday came and went, and life decided to send us for a tailspin. Our air conditioning unit produced too much moisture in our house, which raised the humidity and became the perfect place for mold to grow. As the contractors evaluated the damage, they found more and more issues (naturally), and we were advised not to stay in the house until everything was restored.
So this meant I was trying to pack for two kids, a husband (did I mention he was out-of-town this entire time?) and myself, while staying at my in-laws - who in turn had their in-laws staying with them - and carting things back and forth between my house and their house. All while gathering everything we needed to travel out-of-state and meet with contractors on their schedule. I think the packing-organizing gods really wanted to test my patience and skills.
However, as hectic as life became that week, it was my list and planner that kept me sane. It sounds so simple, right? But it actually was. Now, I used to get overwhelmed trying to remember everything I needed. But with my list, I could add to it as I remembered things and cross things off when they were packed - out of sight, out of mind. It really made a HUGE difference in keeping my sanity during what was otherwise an insane week.
But the good news is: I became a packing expert! (Trial by fire, amirite?) So whether you are packing for a short girls trip, a weekend getaway, a business trip or a family vacay, it is possible to skip the stress of packing. Here's how to pack the appropriate gear for the weather and ensure your clothes are clean and ready, no matter where you are going or who you're going with!
1. Make a List
This is an absolute essential! It forces you to think of what you will truly need so you can also avoid overpacking and ensure what you want to bring is clean and appropriate.
I suggest making two lists:
- A list for everything you need to do before you leave, like errands, working out, dry cleaning, meetings, etc. Break this down by day and use your planner as a guide.
- A list for everything you need to pack. I broke my list down by family member, per day. If you are packing for yourself, you can also break it down by toiletries, daily outfit changes and more.
2. Completely Empty All Your Bags
Figure out which bags you want to take and empty them all out. Yes, including your purse. Typically, you'll want to focus on bringing your:
- Carry on or personal traveling bag
- Make up bag
I had to borrow a suitcase from my in-laws and guess what I found. Toiletries from over 10 years ago! In the trash they went. So when you clean them out, put the extra stuff in the proper places, like papers/receipts in the recycling, toys in the toy box, old wrappers in the trash, loose change in the piggy bank, etc. right away. Trust me, you don't want to have to worry or come back to them later.
So as you empty your bags, you'll recognize what you need and don't need. In turn, they will become significantly lighter. Think about it; will you need your string of access key cards for the office taking up room in your purse if you're not going to be there? Or what about your check book? Do you plan to write a bunch of checks on your getaway ; )
3. Set Everything Out
Once you have cleared out your bags, start laying out your clothing. A visual once-over will help you determine if that item is really needed or not. Or if you can use it for another outfit, which leads me to...
4. Double Up Your Outfits
Try to pack outfits that you can double up on. For example, jeans can be more more than once, scarves can be worn in place of a sweater. Then, pack light on the accessories. No more than 2-3 shoes, 1 hat, 1 scarf, etc.
5. Pack Vertically
Think the KonMari folding method. It is surprising shocking how much you can fit when you pack vertically. Plus you can see everything. You know what you have before it ever goes in your suitcase.
6. Have Fun!
Ok, I probably didn't have to tell you that, but I want you to have fun! Vacations, trips, whatever it may be - traveling is an adventure. Make the most out of it and enjoy yourself. Your bag is light, you're ready to go and you can be confident you have everything you need, so enjoy!
7. Unpack As Soon As You Get Home
I know that the moment you walk in your front door, you most likely just want to jump into that comfy bed of yours and crash rather than unpack right away.
However, if you can get all the dirty clothes into the laundry room/washing machine, put your toiletries away and tuck the suitcase back in the closet, you will be able to rest more soundly. The more people you have to unpack for, the more necessary it is for you to unpack it all as soon as you can. By keeping your suitcase on the floor, taking up valuable floor space and breeding clutter, it's going to stress you out every time you see it. Instead, the quicker you unpack, the quicker you can return to your normal routine feeling refreshed and energized. And that's the goal of a vacation, right?
Check out my Instagram for more photos and tips on packing!