I can never understand why people (including my husband and kids) wait until the last minute to pack before a long trip. Now, if you are called out of town unexpectedly at the last minute, I totally get having to pack the night before or even the day of your trip. However, most of us know well in advance when we are traveling next, giving us ample time to plan and especially, to pack!
For many years, it was very common to find at least one person in my family running around the house the night before our morning flight, frantically pulling together clothes, shoes and toiletries, only to stuff them all into their suitcase which ends up bursting at the zipper.
This strategy not only causes the planners-at-heart to shake their heads with that I told you not to wait until the night before to pack attitude, but it can also lead to overpacking or worse, forgetting items that you really do need.
Building on my previous post about traveling with only a carry on, there’s a simple way to avoid overpacking and forgetting the necessities while also fitting everything you need into the bag or suitcase you’ve chosen.
Enter the Practice Pack.
This packing strategy is more than just pre-packing items for your trip, it is the opportunity to really assess what you want to bring, ensure that it fits and that it is ready for your big travel day.
Whether or not you start from a packing list or just assemble items as you go, a practice pack can help alleviate some of the pre-trip anxiety that many of us feel right before we travel. And why is that? Let’s take a look….
Practice Pack in 3 Steps
Assess Your Trip Wardrobe – A first step in practice packing is to lay out all of the clothes and shoes you think you need for your trip. Similar to the strategies used for packing with just a carry on, this forces you to think about what you want to take based on the length of your trip, location, activities you engage in, weather, mood and more. This might take a little time, especially if you have seasonal clothes stored in hard to reach places (hence, one of the many reasons you should not wait until the last minute to pack!). Once you’ve laid out all of your trip clothes, now it’s time to try all of them on – did someone say fashion show? By trying on each item, you can assess each piece on it’s own and with others, and then decide what makes the cut based on whether it still fits, if it’s stained or torn, and if it matches other clothes you are bringing. This can also help you determine if there are items you still need to purchase (hello new bikini!)
Pre-Pack – Second…once you’ve assessed your wardrobe and have a good idea what you want to bring, take the time to carefully fold or roll your items and pack them into your selected suitcase or carry on bag. As I’ve mentioned before, I love using packing cubes to organize my clothes within my suitcase. The cubes keep everything tight and tidy all throughout my trip. But even in packing cubes are not your thing, packing all or most of your items in advance can help you determine if all of your selections will fit into your suitcase or bag. And if they don’t, you can either begin to deselect a few items from your list or use a larger bag.
Become Travel Ready – And finally….with your wardrobe assessment and your pre-pack complete, you can now determine which clothing items may need to go to the dry cleaner, need a good wash, fluffed in the dryer or mended in any way. For clothes that do not need cleaning or mending, you can now either keep those clothes packed (depending on how early you started your practice packing) or place them in an area of your closet where you know you can easily access them when it’s time for the real packing day.
And there you have it – practice packing in 3 easy steps.
Gotta run – time for my own Spring Break practice packing session!