As we begin to move, in small steps, toward normalcy and activities start to reopen, travel is starting to be something we can plan. Like most of you, we haven’t traveled in almost a year and a half, since our trip to Australia to visit our daughter. (Want an armchair visit to Melbourne? Check out this post, this one, and this one.) I’m so looking forward to a five-day stay on the Big Island of Hawaii beginning this coming weekend.
I decide what to bring and start packing a week or so before departure (it’s must do this trip since we’ll be leaving at the end of my work day). I’m trying (sort of) to not overpack. Hence the photo above as I’ve decided I can only bring only one hat and am trying to figure out which one!
I’ve had this kind of rule for the past three or four years: plan some kind of getaway every three months to keep life interesting and enjoyable. Of course, this hasn’t been possible during the pandemic, although we did take a road trip to spend Thanksgiving with our children for Thanksgiving, and that counts, but it was six months ago. It’s important to give yourself a break from the routine, see a new area, get out of our comfort zone. It keeps us motivated during our routine day to day life to have something fun to look forward to – at least that’s how it works for me.
And I’m so looking forward to this trip (I know I already said that).
Not a Minimalist
I admire people who are minimalist packers. I’m not one of them. And at this point, I’ve stopped trying. I like to have choices when I’m traveling. Invariably I do end up with things I don’t wear, and I often then have regret that those items took up space in my luggage, but I’m not regretful enough to change.
When traveling for more than three or four days, I don’t even consider using a carry-on bag. I’d rather have what I want and spend the extra few minutes to pick up my bag from baggage claim.
Here’s how I go about planning my packing as well as a few must-haves for travel.
I usually begin by pulling clothes out of the closet or drawers that I am considering taking with me. I love using the clothing rack pictured below (more clothing rack options in the widget at the bottom of this post.) It gives me a place to separate potential “takers” without cluttering my space. I can easily move the rack into another room so it’s not in my way as I do my planning. (I seriously love this rack. I’ve found so many uses for it – from planning packing to clothes for blog posts to providing an unshared place for overnight guests to hang their clothes. I actually have two of these racks and use one for my jackets since my small dressing room – aka former kids’ bedroom – doesn’t have enough closet space for everything I need to hang.)
As I’m closer to actually putting things in the suitcase, I lay everything out on a bed in categories so I can have the full overview. (I know – that’s a lot of sunscreen!) The sunscreen we use is safe for people and the environment (Beautycounter and Sun Bum).
There are a few accessories that are must haves when I travel: travel steamer for sure, coffee accessories (we’ll be staying in a house and I’m not sure what the coffee situation is), foldable shopping bags (we’ll be making a trip for groceries I’m sure), a hat or two when traveling to a sunny place (see above photo – I need to decide which one to bring!).
Believe it or not, cosmetics are probably the heaviest thing (I haven’t gotten to those yet – always the last thing I pack since I need to use them until travel day). It’s worth reducing what you can to travel sizes I’ve learned. Bringing my own hair dryer and straightening iron is not negotiable, and those take a bit of room.
I’m sure I don’t need four swimsuits and cover-ups, but where do I have the chance to wear them in normal life? They are lightweight and don’t take up much room, so when visiting Hawaii, I always bring an assortment of swimsuits.
Workout clothes are always a must. We incorporate some kind of exercise when traveling. It’s easy to do – most hotels have a workout room (although who wants to use a public workout space these days?), or it’s very easy to take a brisk morning walk or run or a hike during the day if you’re in an area that offers that.
This trip, since we’ll be sharing a house with another couple, I have some pj/lounging options too, so I don’t have to be dressed right away before coffee but still feel comfortable.
Love these comfy “beach” pants. I pretty much only wear them when we visit Hawaii. They are cool and loose fitting and casual. And these days, I’m not a fan of wearing shorts, so it’s summer dresses and skirts, and this type of pants.
What’s your favorite packing method? I’ve tried them all – folding, rolling, and packing cubes. I’ve experimented over the past few years, and I’ve learned that the best packing method depends on how packed my suitcase is.
If I have a bit of space, I love packing with packing cubes (a nice assortment and variety here and some included in the widget below). That’s what I’m doing this trip. Packing cubes are great for organizing your clothes. You simply put them in the dresser drawer when you arrive at your destination. Also, if you’re suitcase ends up being over weight at check-in (has never happened to me – wink wink), it’s easy to pull out a packing cube and stash it in your carry-on bag. (Note – I have no idea why they’re called packing cubes since they aren’t shaped like a cube.)
If my suitcase is packed to the gills without much space, I’ve found the rolling method conserves the most space. Simply roll each item of clothing and it’s easy to tuck things into the nooks and crannies of your suitcase.
The folding method works well when you have a lot of space in your suitcase.
Another packing trick I’ve learned: Use dry cleaner plastic bags or tissue paper (the kind for gift wrapping) in between clothes to help with wrinkling. I’ve use dry cleaner bags for rolling my clothes and they arrive without wrinkles! Just lay out the clothing item and place a plastic bag or sheet of tissue paper on top, and then roll the clothing item and plastic/tissue together. It really works!
I’m not using the non-wrinkling method this trip, but I am bringing my travel steamer to take care of relaxing wrinkles (I never travel without it!).
Logan + Lenora Waterproof Bags
This peek of my Logan + Lenora bag – it’s my favorite bag to take to Hawaii. (Check out more details about the bag in this post.) It’s so versatile. I use it as a carry-on (it has a trolley sleeve so I can easily slip it over the handle of my suitcase). It’s waterproof so it’s perfect poolside or at the beach. And it’s roomy enough to carry what I need. And it has a detachable should strap. There a lots of designs and a few sizes. My bag is the Daytripper size – now renamed Weekender. There’s a beach bag style as well, and it’s great for a family trip to the beach or pool but a little too big for me.
I hope some of these tips are helpful when you are ready to travel. Let me know if you have some to share that aren’t mentioned here.