Pack It Up

Summer is just around the corner. Any travel plans on your schedule?

One thing that makes it easier to prepare for any trip is being ready to pack all the time. There are three things always in my suitcase:

  • Toiletry bag(s) — to hold travel versions or travel containers or duplicates (i.e., hairbrush) of everything; you may need to add a medicine pack, but there is a lot that can be ready and waiting
  • Charge cords pouch — duplicates of cords for charging phones and other electronics mean they are not forgotten and ready to use when you hit the guest room
  • Plastic laundry bag — always ready for use; when we come home, the contents are dumped in the hamper and returned to the suitcase

Using pouches for these things also means it is easy to switch to another suitcase if that were needed (bigger or smaller, depending on the trip). When it’s time to pack, all that needs to go in is clothes and shoes.

Note: It may help to have a list of things you need to remember written on a card that you keep in your suitcase. That would help you with the things that need to be packed that aren’t ready to go all the time.

Another help is to pack light. Really. It’s tempting to make sure you are ready for every remote possibility, I know. In reality, chances are slim that you will need all the extras, but it is guaranteed you will have to deal with all the extra stuff for your whole trip. You can save some effort by remembering this.

  • Go through your expected schedule and pack what you need. In reality, you will almost always be able to adjust with what you have packed when plans change.
  • If you are going for more than a weekend, plan to do laundry. It’s easier to get 1-2 hours free to do a load or two at some point than it is to drag tons of outfits and sort through them in the suitcase every day. Most hotels have a laundry room, most hostesses will have no problem with you using their facilities, and laundromats are all over if neither of those is available to you on a trip. Note: The more people in your group, the more this tactic benefits you.
    Pack 2-3 outfits for the activities you expect, and hit the road.

As you pack your clothes, use packing cubes or roll up your clothes tightly (like a taquito). You will maximize the space, and it will be easier to grab what you need.

Finally, if you will arrive at your destination (or an in-between destination) late at night. Consider putting pajamas and the toiletry bag at the top of the suitcase (or bag). You won’t have to unpack everything, just reach in and grab what you need for the night before falling into bed.

A Trip With Kids

Are you looking at hours in the car with your kids? Are you looking forward to the time together?

Long road trips with one or more children can be anything from great to difficult. Planning ahead can tilt the needle in the right direction, though, and set you up for success.

Pack snacks. Airlines know this: keep people fed on a long flight, and they will be more content to sit and wait until arrival.

Keep some snacks light and crunchy to add texture and interest, but keep variety in mind too. Individual portions will make the fun last longer. And, of course, remember that messy, gooey, or sticky will make it harder to clean-up.

Pack activities. Electronics will only get you so far. Multiple movies will eventually get boring, even though the time passes quickly that way at first.

  • Toys that are contained work well. Older kids can handle more pieces, but even babies can play with several items on a strip.
  • Children that can read and write can also enjoy games like I Spy or Find the Alphabet. You can even make up your own, like who can find certain trucks or animals or whatnot first or most. Be creative.
  • Activity books can also be a welcome relief. You don’t need a box of 64 crayons — a few will do.
  • Get a special set of toys or books that you introduce on this road trip. Novelty is a big draw.

Plan for breaks. Know that little legs need to stretch. Plan on taking longer than if you were driving alone and in a hurry. Keep an eye out for stops that have room to run or something to see, to make the most of the time off the road.

Know what you have. Make a list of potential activities and the supplies you packed. When it’s time to move to a new activity, you won’t have to remember the possibilities. You can just pick one off the list.

Finally, remember that you set the tone of the trip. Your attitude is contagious.