When I look back on my childhood years, I remember the great times we had traveling as a family. Now with my own family, I wanted to create those kinds of memories for my children. We love getting in the car for day or weekend trips to local places or even longer road trips to other states. We visit museums and zoos or stop at National Parks and historic sites. Seeing other areas of the country can be a great experience and we have created such wonderful memories to look back on!
Throughout the years we have learned the importance of packing for a trip. Weeks before we leave, I start pulling clothes from the closet that are needed for the trip. The key is to bring just the right amount of clothing to last the duration of the trip. We have learned over the years that less is usually better since sometimes we buy souvenir t-shirts and these can be worn during the vacation so that can eliminate one or two pieces of clothing. We do wear our jeans or shorts at least twice during a trip, so that keeps the amount of bulky items down to a minimum. The most important thing to remember is that you will be carrying those heavy suitcases! Also, before a trip, I will start a couple of lists of things we need to bring, one is a list of things to remember that we already own (camera, binoculars, etc.) and the other list is things to buy for the trip (suntan lotion, sunglasses, etc.).
Organization is very important when planning and packing for a trip. To start the packing process, ask yourself these important questions:
- Who is going on the trip?
- What is your destination?
- How will you be traveling to your destination?
- What time of year will you be traveling?
- What is the weather forecast?
All these answers will determine the items that you need to pack or purchase.
- Gather the travel documents – airline tickets, passport, maps, tour books, etc.
- Clothing – have at least one outfit for each day, including underwear. Make sure to pack comfortable shoes. Depending on the weather conditions of the travel destination, don’t forget to pack an appropriate jacket, sweater or coat.
- Put aside a set of “travel” clothes – be sure to select items that are comfortable and slip on shoes are easier for airport security or to take off/put on during long car trips.
- Sometimes it is a good idea to pack a dressy outfit for any unexpected occasion and don’t forget to pack the appropriate shoes and a simple clutch bag.
- Toiletries – use small leak-proof bottles for shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, body lotion. Don’t forget toothpaste and a toothbrush for each person, nail clippers, etc. Keep a small pouch for personal items such as: makeup or feminine products.
- A mesh laundry bag – this will help keep clean clothes separate from the dirty ones! Toss in some small plastic shopping bags for muddy clothes or shoes.
- Small first aid kit – include bandages, aspirin, thermometer, tweezers, etc.
- Emergency kit – include a small sewing kit with scissors,, pocket knife (Be sure to store any sharp instruments in check luggage or they will be confiscated by airport security)
- Small hair dryer or travel iron (check ahead because most hotels will have them in the room and these items will not be necessary to bring)
- Small backpack or travel bag for daily use.
- Don’t forget a phone, digital camera, etc.
Travel Tips and Suggestions
Keep important items in a carry-on bag and avoid bringing valuable jewelry. Never pack travel documents, money or credit cards in checked baggage.
- Before leaving home, remove unnecessary items from your wallet, such as a library card, department store credit cards, etc. If you don’t already, keep an emergency contact card in your wallet. Be sure to include the following information – name and phone number of emergency contact, medical and auto insurance information, phone number of your doctor and dentist, etc.
- When traveling internationally, don’t forget to bring conversion / adaptor plugs. The voltage in other countries can vary as well as socket sizes and shapes, so any small appliances you have pack might not work.
- When traveling keep all the prescription medications in the original containers and if possible bring the doctor’s prescription as well. This is a good idea for two reasons, it proves the medication is legitimate and the prescription can be refilled if required.
- If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to pack an extra set. I haven’t had to use them, but I am glad that they are there if I lose the ones I am wearing. Also be sure to bring a small screwdriver kit to repair any loose screws, this I have used to prevent the lenses from falling out of my eyeglass frames.
- Pack a supply of various sizes of Ziploc Freezer Bags. They are a little heavier than regular or generic plastic bags. These bags can be used to store items that can potentially leak, such as shampoo, lotions, etc. The bags are also an excellent way to store wet bathing suits. Another use for the bags can be a place to keep souvenirs such as ticket stubs, travel brochures, etc.
- Be sure to toss in a small packable duffle bag – this will come in handy for souvenirs or other travel purchases. This is a great idea especially if you have any fragile items to bring back home, the bag can easily become a carry-on bag for the airplane.
- Even if you are traveling to a warm and sunny place, it is always a good idea to pack a small travel umbrella or packable rain jackets with hoods for each person. Be sure to toss these items into the day pack or travel bag and you will be prepared for any unexpected rain shower.
- When awaken in the middle of the night in a dark hotel room can be unfamiliar and very disorientating, so it is a good idea to pack a small flashlight or nightlight.