Planning a vacation can be almost as fun as taking one. But when big dreams give way to concrete chores, things get a lot less fun. Packing for a vacation can be stressful, as you check and double-check to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Cramming everything into a suitcase or duffel bag can feel like a tricky puzzle. And choosing what to bring on your big trip can be an odyssey in and of itself. Should you bring that dress, or this one? What should you wear to your dinners out, and what should you pack for the beach?
Here’s how to figure out what to pack — and how to actually pack it — for your next big vacation.
Figuring out what to pack for your trip
Long before you can figure out how to fit everything in your suitcase, you need to figure out what you’re bringing on your big trip.
Do yourself a big favor and do this part ahead of time. If you wait until a few days before your trip to start figuring out what to bring, you’re going to get stressed out. Plus, you’ll probably end up planning your wardrobe an collecting your essentials at the same time as you’re stashing them in your suitcase or bag, which is a bad idea because it can get you confused and disorganized.
Planning and packing should be separate endeavors, and planning should come first. Begin with the non-clothing essentials. Set aside your toiletries and other basics that you don’t want to forget. Then start planning your vacation fashion. Before you choose a single clothing item, though, think over your vacation plans. Do you need a cocktail dress or a swimsuit? Pair activities with their clothing essentials: the Oregon Coast experience is incomplete without a trip to a casino or resort, say travel pros, so you don’t want to end up with nothing but swimsuits and flip-flops that effectively bar you from the nice restaurants and clubs. Think about which activities can share outfits — your nice dress, for example, might be able to work for both the nightclub on Saturday and the fancy dinner on Tuesday. And consider how clothes go together. If you stick with similar color families, you’ll find it easier to quickly assemble outfits when on the go.
Don’t be afraid to do a bit of smart shopping. Since you’re planning your packing so far ahead of time, you’ll have plenty of time to check out a hip online clothing boutique or two. Get the perfect outfit for one activity, or choose a high-quality basic that helps unite your whole travel wardrobe and makes quick outfit combinations easy to make on the fly.
How to pack for your trip
Once you’ve assembled the perfect packing list, it’s time to get it all into the suitcase. But that can be easier said than done. To make a bit more space in your suitcase, consider rolling some clothes instead of folding them. While you should be a bit wary of potential wrinkles, rolling clothes can help you stack your outfits like logs in your suitcase. They’ll take up less room in this state, and will compress well, too.
Make use of every little space. Tuck socks into your shoes rather than allowing that negative space to remain unoccupied. If you have extra room in your toiletries bag or in another sub-container, be sure to use it effectively.
And think about what you’ll wear as you travel or (if you’re flying) what you’ll carry onto your flight. You could fly in your bulkiest shoes in order to free up more space in your bag, for instance, and you could wear accessories that you don’t want to leave in a checked bag.
This is not an exhaustive list of ways to pack, of course. If you have a passion for using space efficiently, then you’ll be happy to know that there is a veritable treasure trove of efficient packing advice to be found online. But these basic tips will get you far, especially if you’ve taken the time to plan out your vacation wardrobe possible. With a clear plan, it will be easier for you to make smart cuts if necessary and still end up having everything you need on vacation.
Vacations are for having a blast traveling — not for stressing out about packing. So plan ahead and use space in your luggage efficiently. You’ll bring the right things on your trip and won’t lose your mind doing so.