Packing Tips: 3 people, 8 nights, 2 bags……no problem

Over the years i have packed a lot of suitcases, learning many valuable lessons along the way. After packing for a recent beach vacation, I decided it was time to share a few of my tips. Just for credability’s sake, take a look at the pictures below. I was able to fit everything that you see into (2) – 21 inch carry on sized bags…..including everything from a camera tripod and ballhead to squirt guns, sun tan lotion, and bug spray. Everything that a family of 3 might need for an 8 night beach vacation, including some nicer dinner attire. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t going to be a “how to” guide to actually fitting everything in the bags, there are plenty of  great resources out there. For example the “Packing Light method”, which is one of the better instructional videos out there. I am going to concentrate on more of the “theory” of packing, in order to keep everyone in your group happy.  We’ve all been there…..standing at the baggage claim belt waiting for your bag, and waiting…….and waiting. It is even worse if everyone else in your party receives their stuff, and you don’t.  After spending the first 3 days of our honeymoon back in 2000 wearing cheap touristy shirts in the Dominican Republic, i decided to do things differently.

  1. Always pack at least one full change of clothes plus a Woolite packet in your carry on. Of course this will vary dramatically by your given destination. Clothing for a cold weather trip is obviously a lot bulkier than the shorts and bathing suits of a beach trip. Combined with the clothes on your back you now have two full outfits. So if your luggage doesn’t show for a couple of days you can wear one while the other, that you washed out with Woolite in the sink or shower dries.
  2. Divide your items equally between checked bags. If there are 3 people traveling, make sure that there are roughly equal amounts for each person in each bag. That way if one bag doesn’t show, no one is left out. I usually do this similar to dealing cards. I put the bags that we will be taking on the floor and then “deal” each person’s clothing equally into each bag.  4 shirts in this bag, 4 shirts in the other……2 shorts in one bag, 2 shorts in the other….and so on.
  3. I don’t claim to be a fashion plate by any stretch, but it does help if you can pack items that are of a similar color palate. Black based, brown, neutral, etc.  Take items that are interchangeable, that way you don’t clutter your bag with duplicate items: black AND brown shoes, black AND brown belts, etc.
  4. Use your space wisely:
    1. If you have a large shoes, etc. fill them with smaller items like socks, underwear, etc.
    2. I always try to get the odd shaped or large items in the bag early:  Tripods, sunscreen, toys, toiletries, etc., then i fill in around them with items that  wrinkles don’t matter last much on: i.e.. bathing suits, socks, underwear, etc. creating a flat surface in the center of the bag to put the nicest clothes or the most fragile items.
    3. I usually save a few items (athletic shirts, shorts, sleeping clothes, etc.) to tuck all the way over the top of the bag prior to zipping it closed, this helps  keep everything in place.
    4. Pack from high priority to lower. Sure it will be nice to have those drink containers for your cocktails and squirt guns to play with…..if they fit, but items such as sunscreen are a must….get them in the bag early!
    5. I always put water shoes, flip flops, sandals in the outer zipper pocket of the suitcase (rubber soles out)…..they are pretty durable and help create a protective shell over the top of your soft sided luggage.

These are just a few of my standard practices when it comes to packing for a trip. Please let me know if you have any further questions, i am happy to share any information i have.