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I love going on trips. LOVE it. I would become a nomad if I could just throw my clothes away instead of washing them. And if I had unlimited funds and could go from the Four Seasons to the Ritz to friends’ homes. And if I had unlimited funds.
But I digress.
I love traveling, but because I can’t just buy new clothes wherever I land, I have to pack. Few things are worse than packing.
I think I hate packing because I don’t want to over pack. I just want to bring a carry-on and not wait for luggage. I’ve landed without my luggage being on the same plane enough times that I like knowing where my things are.
To only have a carry-on, I need to be more precise than my natural tendency leans. I like to just throw things together and be happy. Carry-ons don’t allow this.
Additionally, I often go places with my kids. When this happens, I have to be precise for three extra people. The older I get, the less of my brain space is available to keep things straight. I also forget how long we will be gone for. I have to constantly stop and count (using my fingers) how many days I’m packing for.
To add to all of this confusion, I don’t bring the same amount of pants as days we are gone. I figure everyone can use their pants more than once. Depending on where we are going, I will pack fewer shirts than we have days – especially if there will be a washer and dryer where we are staying. The only things I have everyone pack to match the days we will be gone are underwear and socks. Sometimes, when I’m feeling wild and crazy, I have the kids pack an extra pair of undies and socks.
I used to write everything down for each child and myself every time we went anywhere. This became tedious.
Finally, using some of my diminishing brain space, I made
I’ve left the name of the child and the destination blank so I can fill that in each time and I have a separate list from the kids. (Generally, I bring things everyone uses.). I photocopy the master, fill it out and add anything I think each child may need.
(I don’t have a list for my husband. Once you hit 35, you’re on your own.)
There is a space before certain clothes so that I can add the numbers I want each person to bring.
I pack a laundry bag in each child’s suitcase so that they have somewhere to put dirty socks and underwear. (This also helps make sure no one wears the same pair all week…)
I always bring extra chargers and earphones. I also bring a plug that can charge five devises at a time.
Half the time I have the kids bring water bottles, they never use them. But when they do, we save so much money on drinks, it makes it worth the times we drag them around just to leave them in hotels. On this trip, I brought my water bottle and everyone shared it. When we went to Hawaii, the kids each brought their own bottles and used them constantly. I just never know.
Even with all of this laid out, I go through each child’s suitcase.
When I open them, I’m often surprised at what I might find.
I’ve asked for 6 pairs of socks to find one pair of normal socks, one pair of ski socks, and two separate socks. Even though I hand out a list, I’m often sending the kids back down to get something forgotten.
Then I put the clothes into packing cubes.
This helps me know everything on the list is packed and has a place. Once we get wherever we are going, the clothes are usually thrown all over anyhow, but it gives me a peace of mind for a few hours.
For MY undies, I use a double sided packing cube. (I apologize if this is TMI.)
I put everything on one side and then use the opposite side to put dirty underwear as I go. If I’ve done everything precisely, the opposite side should be empty on the way home. I’m almost never this precise, but it’s basically empty by the end of the trip. Unless I’ve done laundry. Then things can get really wild.
Those are just some of my tips and tricks. I don’t know if it saves me much time, because I still have to go through everything and make sure shorts aren’t packed when traveling to Iceland in January. But it does give my orderly and memory sections of my brain a break to focus on more important things.
Like whether or not I have room for a new pair of shoes.