5 Ways to Not Get Overwhelmed When Packing for Your Next Vacation | From Overwhelmed to Organized: 5 Ways to Not Get Overwhelmed When Packing for Your Next Vacation

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5 Ways to Not Get Overwhelmed When Packing for Your Next Vacation

Do you find packing for vacation overwhelming?  Are those days leading up to your holiday stressful as you try to finish everything on time?

A vacation is something you look forward to, eagerly anticipate, and dream about.  But as your departure date gets closer, that to-do list grows.

Today I want to share a few strategies that I've found help me feel less overwhelmed when I'm packing for a vacation, which in turn helps me enjoy my time away more :)

1.  Start packing early. 

I usually start at least a week ahead for clothes and several weeks ahead for non-clothing items.  And if we're going somewhere warm when it's cold here then I start even earlier since we're not using a lot of our summer clothes anyway.

We usually do laundry once a week so the week before our vacation, as we're folding laundry, I set aside clothes that I know we'll want to pack, so they aren't worn that week.  If we need off-season clothing, I pull it out, check to make sure everything fits, and then set it aside. There are still usually some last minute items from the laundry to add in, but it's nice having as much as possible packed in advance, rather than packing everything at the last minute.

For non-clothing items, I set aside things as I come across them or think of them.  For example, we often stay in timeshares and find they don't give you enough dishwasher detergent or laundry detergent, so in the weeks ahead of our vacation I set aside detergent samples to bring along.  If I do this when I'm doing a load of laundry or running the dishwasher, then I don't have to make a separate effort to pack them later.  Simplifies the process and saves time. 

2.  Set up a packing zone. 

Because I start packing early, I designate a packing spot so those items don't get used between when I've set them aside and when we leave.  I also pull out our suitcases, duffel bags, backpacks, coolers/cooler bags, etc. to make sure everything still works (no broken zippers, tears, etc.).  That way I can toss things in as I gather or pack them.

In my home I usually have a pile in our dining room for non-clothing items and a few piles or bags in our bedroom) for all our clothes.

3.  Use a list. 

Before a vacation there are million little things going through my brain and it's really overwhelming trying to remember them all.  I've been using various versions of my packing list for years and it really helps make this process less stressful.  I know I'm not going to forget anything, which takes a lot of the pressure off.  I shared a few versions of packing lists last week.  If you missed them, click the picture to get them.

4.  Calculate how many days you need to bring clothes for and only bring that much (or less!)

If you're going for 7 days, then take 7 shirts, 7 pant/shorts, 7 pairs of socks, 7 underwear, etc.  Of course there are some exceptions.  Babies or toddlers usually need more than that. And if you're traveling for a wedding or special occasion you'll need dressy clothes in addition to your regular outfits. But usually you don't need to take more than that.

In fact you could take less clothing if you wear some pieces several times.  You're on vacation... no one is noticing what you're wearing :)  People often think they need extra clothes, just in case something happens. But they end up coming home with half a suitcase of unworn clothing.  Or worse than that, you're not sure what was worn or not so you end up having to wash everything.  Why create extra work?!

These are all my son's clothes for the 16 days we'll be away.  

For a longer trip consider doing laundry part way through so you can re-wear clothes.  We usually stay in timeshares and have access to laundry machines either in our unit or in the complex, so we always do laundry if we're staying for more than 1 week.  Sometimes we even plan to do it twice to reduce how much we have to take along.  For example, on our upcoming vacation, we're going for 2 weeks (plus driving time there and back). I'm planning to do laundry twice so we only need 5-6 days of clothes.  If you're staying with family or friends, ask if you can do laundry while you're there.  If you're staying in a hotel consider going to a laundromat during your trip.

And don't take "just in case" items.  Think about whether you can borrow or buy these things on your trip instead of packing them.  This reduces how much you have to pack, take along, keep track of, pack for the return trip, unpack, and clean up when you get home.  Too much stuff is overwhelming.  Less is more on vacation :)

5. Stick to one colour scheme for clothing 

This makes it easy to mix and match clothes, which means you don't need to pack as much, especially for adults. You can wear the same pants or jeans for a few days and switch up your shirts to have a different outfit.  Having less colours means less accessories to take along (think shoes, jewelry, scarves, jackets, hair ties, etc.).  Plus you'll have less stress while you're on vacation because you know everything matches.

These are my daughter's clothes, ready to be packed for our vacation.  Her favourite colours are pink and purple... with a little turquoise when Ariel is involved...can you tell?  I made sure to pack only plain shorts and skirts and capris for her so she can wear any of her tshirts and tank tops with any of them. We'll leave the multi-coloured shorts that only go with certain tops, and some other colours of clothes at home.

{We're going to Disney World so we packed every piece of Disney clothing she owned... right down to her underwear and pajamas!  She's beyond excited to wear her princess dress-up clothes too :) }

And, this is what a corner of our master bedroom looks like for a few days before our vacations.  Bags that are started and need other items added to them.  It's worth it when we have a vacation too look forward to :)

I hope these tips help you feel less overwhelmed on your next vacation!  I know I enjoy myself more when I'm not stressed before I leave :)

Last Friday, I shared other packing tips I found online.  If you missed them, you can read them here.

Which of these tips do you use?  Which ones will you use when you pack for your next vacation?  What other ways have you found to simplify the packing (and unpacking) process?

Happy organizing!

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  1. Great tips for packing and being ready for a vacation. Looks like your are so organized!

    1. Thanks Dawn! It's taken me awhile to figure out what works best for us, but these tips really help me stay organized!

  2. Great tips.. I usually pack way more than I need.. and I have found for longer trips you need a lot less then your really think you need. I even make a list but never stick to it and end up throwing more into it at the last minute. For my last trip I took 7 pairs of shoes and was gone a total of 5 days (2 of the travel days where I wore the same thing :))... But I do have to say that I wore 6 out of the 7 pairs of shoes...

    1. I think the longer the trip the less you need proportionately Marlys. It's so easy to just toss extra stuff in though. Lists help me plan so I don't do that... usually :)

  3. Love your ideas. We have 10 people in our family so packing far in advance wouldn't work quite as well for us, but your packing lists would. I usually write one out each time hoping I remember everything but a pre-organized pre-printable one would work even better. Thanks for that tip.
    Brelinskyville. blogspot. com

    1. Hope the lists help save you time Tara! I can't imagine packing for 10... I'd forget stuff for sure :)

  4. Love the ideas, we are leaving for a 10 day trip and that includes driving our and back. With two kids and staying in camp grounds, I plan on doing laundry so we have limited taking tons of clothes. I have a nice pile of things started already... we leave in 3 weeks.

    1. That sounds like a wonderful trip Anna and it sounds like you've got things very organized. Have a great time!

  5. My husband and I will be headed to a family reunion later this summer, so we'll have a chance to apply some of these tips. I especially like the recommendation to have "packing zones" where we can set aside items that will be packed. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You're welcome Shannon! Have a great time at your family reunion!


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