10 Smart Packing Tips for Families
Here are 10 smart packing tips that will make all your trips go a little more smoothly!
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For me, how much I enjoy traveling depends a lot on how well I pack. Here are some tips for packing that might make traveling easier and more enjoyable for you.
First off, if you are traveling by airplane, it helps to know the airline’s baggage policy before you buy the ticket. I almost always fly with my family, so we know we are going to need a decent amount of luggage that we don’t want to have to pay an arm and a leg for.
It is helpful to be aware of the size and weight restrictions before you select your suitcase(s). I have had both hard and soft suitcases before. I realized that I prefer the soft cases, because they weigh less and they can stretch and expand if needed. A lighter suitcase means I can bring more things inside of the suitcase without going over 50 pounds.
It is also helpful to have a quality suitcase that handles the wear and tear of travel, and that is easy to move and handle!
Okay, back to packing. Here is a bit of my packing resume. I grew up in Sanford, North Carolina, but I went to college at BYU in Provo, UT. I flew to college. I had to pack everything I might need for a year of school into two suitcases, a carry-on, and a personal item.
After my first year of college, I went on a two year mission for my church, so I had to pack approved and specific types of things for a two-year period. During that time I moved every 4-5 months.
Now I travel for holidays, weddings, and funerals with my family, so we tend to carry a lot of things for to help us get by for a few weeks.
We can’t travel too often, so we usually try to maximize the time in different places. For each of these situations I had to pack differently. However, I believe most of my top ten tips for packing should be helpful in most situations.
Here are my ten tips for packing!
1. First, make a list.
Consider your activities and what you will need to accomplish them. What can you afford to buy at your destination, what will be available for free, and what can you do without?
Plan and prioritize and then make a list. I don’t trust myself in the chaos of the moment of packing to remember everything but maybe you are different.
In my opinion, the main goals of packing are to have what you need, have it easily accessible, and to have it in as close to the condition that you need it as possible.
Those goals are meet within time and money constraints that depend on the person packing and the goals of the travel.
2. Roll up you clothes instead of folding them
Or just chucking them in the suitcase. Rolled up shirts and pants will be less likely to wrinkle, and they will take up less space. If you don’t care about wrinkles, and you just want to fit as many clothes in a suitcase as possible then I think folding would be better.
Also, you could try packing aides that use vacuum suction to, basically, shrink wrap your clothes. If you are just going on a short trip and you don’t want to waste time with ironing clothes, then roll up your less wrinkle prone clothes and lay them on top of your more sensitive clothes.
Plus, to keep your dress shirts and such from shifting and getting wrinkled you can use something like a dry cleaning bag tucked over and into the sides of the suitcase. Use socks, underwear, and other properly sealed toiletries to fill in the empty spaces.
Think about how everything might shift and plan accordingly. Place books and other heavy items near the bottom of your suitcase.
3. If you are flying, make sure your valuables and important documents are with you on the plane.
Checked bags are at a greater risk of being lost or stolen. Additionally, if you want to avoid someone else confusing their bag with yours at baggage claim, try a brighter color or design for the bag itself or for something on or tied to the bag.
4. Make sure that liquids, gases, or gels meet the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule.
Basically, they have to be small travel sizes and in a clear plastic bag. For liquids and other items in checked bags that might explode due changes in air pressure during flights at least use a sealed plastic bag.
You can also put some plastic wrap over the opening of the bottle or tube and then screw the lid on top of the plastic. This should help prevent most problems. Katie and I were not always careful about this, and we paid the price.
5. Use your personal item wisely.
I don’t know what the official policy of most airlines, but I think the size of your personal item is mostly dependent on how well if fits under the seat in front of you.
I’ve packed a backpack full of heavy books, which has saved me from putting a lot of weight in my checked bags.
I’ve even brought my tennis racquet on board with me because it wouldn’t fit in my checked luggage, and I didn’t have a problem. I think I just stowed it up top.
6. Be aware that your bag might be searched.
If your bag is stuffed so full that you think it is a minor miracle that you got it to close, remember that the TSA official who might have to search it might not be so fortunate or careful.
Bags might rip, seams might split, or you might have to pick your bag up from somewhere other than the usual baggage claim area. Plus, the locks on suitcases have to be TSA compliant, or the might be cut off or broken.
If you don’t want some stranger touching certain things then put them in a clear plastic bag, so that the items can be clearly seen.
7. Consider what you can buy at your destination.
If you can avoid the time, hassle, and luggage fees by avoiding packing items you can buy at you destination (if you will have the time) then do it.
This includes considering laundry options. If you can do your laundry at your destination, then you can bring fewer clothes.
You could even try washing your clothes in a hotel sink, and then hanging them up in the shower to dry. If you have a child in diapers, just buy the diapers and wipes when you get to your destination.
8. Pack versatile items
I think smart phones are great for this. Smart phones can make it so you don’t need books, maps, music players, etc. They do need to be charged, so it might be good to have an extra battery pack if you depend on your phone a lot.
Using layers when dressing for different weather conditions is one way to make your clothes more versatile. Instead of a big jacket, maybe a couple of shirts and a thick sweater or light jacket.9. Pack some high calorie snacks
I hate paying the ridiculous prices of airports and certain tourist destinations. I can save myself some money with granola bars, trail mixes, and jerky. They won’t go bad sitting for a while in different kinds of environment, and you won’t freak out if you’re behind schedule and don’t have time to buy food.
Similarly, bring an empty clear bottle to fill up with water fountain or restaurant water, so you don’t have to buy overpriced water or drinks if you get thirsty.
10. Pack something for the trip
Sometimes people pack just for the destination, and they don’t prepare for the time and effort of the trip itself. Just makes sure you are taking care of yourself, so you aren’t too tired or upset to do what you need to do when you get to your destination.
By the way, make sure you actually bring your luggage. I only partly mention this in jest. When Katie and I were enjoying our simple honeymoon we were leaving the house we were able to enjoy for a few nights to drive a few hours towards the beach. However, once we got to the hotel we were going to be staying in, we realized that one of Katie’s bags wasn’t there. I had taken it down the stairs at the house we had stayed in, but I hadn’t actually put it in the car. So, once you pack to perfection make sure you actually take the bag with you!
Thanks for these tips, Forrest! I have always heard that folding your clothes isn’t as good as rolling them, but I still fold mine! I’ll have to try it next time!