Do you have travel plans this summer? Lisa Hess offers three strategies for packing your suitcase.
Now that vaccines are going in arms and masks are coming off of faces, it might just be time to dust off those suitcases. So, I ask you this: when it comes to packing, are you a planner or a last-minute crammer? Do you make lists and/or piles? Do you just sort of pile stuff up and choose as you go? Throw a few tops and a few bottoms into the suitcase and hope they kinda sorta match?
I must admit that most of those describe me. I make lists, but some are in my head and some are on paper. I create piles – mostly as I bring clean laundry upstairs in the days leading up to the trip – and decide what will go away and what might make the cut for the suitcase. I even sometimes do that last one, but mostly because I have enough solid color tops and bottoms that it’s not a very big risk.
In short, I'm a pack-as-I go kinda girl, which is a pretty perfect fit for my I need to see it personal style.
I have some things pre-packed always: toiletries (for every trip) and two large canvas bags with the things we routinely need for beach trips. I put my makeup bag together the day before I leave so that when I get ready on the day of the trip, pulling each item out as I need it, I'll know immediately if I forgot to put something in the bag. As for everything else, the plan is, as I’ve said, a bit more random.
If you're a planner, this post is probably making you twitch and, for that, I apologize. It's important to note, however, that everyone's definition of "planning" is a little different. As long as everything important makes it to the final destination in one piece, which form of planning is used to get it there is, in my opinion, irrelevant, unless someone else is depending on me to be a part of their planning. Luckily, we're all old enough to fend for ourselves around here.
Here are three key elements to my personal packing plan.
- Pre-pack. As I’ve said, I have duplicates of most of my personal items and the kinds of Mom things (toothpaste, bandages, tissues) that people usually ask for. These are packed year-round so all I need to do is grab the right bag and toss it into the suitcase (after a quick check that everything's fully stocked).
- Pre-plan. Long before I've packed a thing, I'm making lists and running clothing combinations through my head. As I do laundry (pretty much always a given the day before we leave), I lay out what needs to go in the suitcase and put the rest away, keeping the planned activities for the trip in mind as I do so.
- Prepare. This is the actual packing part. Once I have everything laid out on the bed (what did you expect from someone with an I need to see it personal style?), it's time to transfer it to the designated packing container. These things are connected. Until I have it all laid out on the bed, I don't know which designated packing container I'll need.
I can't say I never forget anything, but I usually arrive at my destination with the most important items, along with a few that never make it out of the suitcase. I'm not usually an overpacker (I leave that to my husband), but I typically pack an extra set of clothes and an extra outer layer in case the weather is unpredictable. Oddly enough, the recognition that, in most cases, I can buy anything I've forgotten, has made packing less overwhelming.
I'm not sure that packing will ever make my list of favorite things to do but preparing ahead of time makes me dread it less. And, it makes things go more smoothly when I finally stop procrastinating.
Procrastinating packers? That’s a whole other blog post.
Copyright 2021 Lisa Hess
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About the Author
Transplanted Jersey girl Lisa Lawmaster Hess is the author of a blog compilation, three novels, and three non-fiction books, including the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.