Friday Feature: Vacation Packing 101


I know I promised this post yesterday, but I’ve been lazy  catching up on Sons of Anarchy on Netflix   really busy;)

As I mentioned earlier this week, Tyson and I will be heading to warmer climates on Saturday.  I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready for a vacation in my life!  We will be staying 6 nights/7 days at the beautiful Rondel Village in Negril, Jamaica, a.k.a. Seven Mile Beach.  This is the first time we’ve ever been to the same beach resort twice, but we loved it so much last year that we couldn’t wait to return.

We have made it a rule over the past few years to only travel with carry-on luggage.  The main reason for this decision is obviously the money we save by not checking additional baggage.  It also gives us peace of mind that everything we pack ends up where it’s supposed to. So here is how I make it work:

Step 1-Plan Ahead

Sometimes, packing for a weeklong vacation and squeezing it all into a carry-on is challenging, but one more reason I like it is that it forces me to plan ahead and not throw a bunch of “I might wear this” options in just for the heck of it.  This time packing was a little easier since we’ve been there before, and I know exactly what to expect-shorts or cover-ups by day, lightweight dresses by night.  To get anywhere, we walk on the beach, so flat sandals are a must, and anything too dressy would be wasted space.

I also try to pack items that can be mixed and matched.  Denim or white shorts are perfect options that can be worn more than once, and white or striped tees go with just about anything.

Now comes the fun part:) This is just a standard carry-on that fits in the overhead compartment of most airplanes. Getting everything to fit is kind of like working a puzzle. Let’s get to it!

Step 2-Line Suitcase with Shoes

I’ll be honest, the hardest part of packing for me is narrowing down shoes.  Even if I’m only taking a pair to wear with one outfit, I find a way to make it work if I want to wear them bad enough (there are 8 pairs pictured here, but I did get rid of one pair of flip flops).  Flat sandals and flip flops go around the outer edges, and when I run out of space, I lay them flat in the middle.  I also put a couple pairs of flip flops in the smaller zipper compartment on the top of the bag

Helpful space-saving tip: Fill shoes with accessories such as belts, larger necklaces, bracelets to keep shoes from getting smashed. If you’re packing tall boots, roll up t-shirts, socks, scarves and stuff them inside.accessories
Step 3-Roll it Up

I start with shorts and skirts.  Rolling them is most space-efficient way I have found to pack as much as I can into a small space.  Just start from the bottom and layer your way up.  Tops go next.

On the other side, I roll dresses, cover-ups, anything that takes up a little more space.  I top it off with thicker items that can’t effectively be rolled, such as sweaters, sweatshirts (I added one for the way home), or jackets.  Fold as normal and lay on top of rolled layers.

Step 4-Finishing Touches

Lastly, I pack swimwear and undergarments.  Swimwear goes in the larger section on top of the bag, and undergarments, of course, in the netted section inside the bag.  I usually take as many bathing suits as I can squeeze in because I like variety, and there’s no rhyme or reason to how many pairs of underwear I throw in.  All I know is I’d rather have too many than not enough!

I’m really becoming quite the pro at this packing thing because this time I didn’t even have to sit on my bag to get it zipped! I know it is a lot simpler to use this packing technique for beach vacations because the clothes are smaller, but I pack the same way for our mission trips to Guatemala which means boots, jeans, and work clothes. Same goes for a trip we took out west in 2013 which required a variety of hiking clothes, sweatshirts for mountain climates, and beachwear.

The key really is to plan ahead.  We don’t usually do much shopping, but if you plan on it, make sure you leave enough room to pack those new items!

The last thing I pack is a separate bag for my toiletries, jewelry, hair tools, books/magazines, etc.  Most flight rules say you can carry on a bag that will fit into the overhead compartment and an extra bag, such as a purse or laptop bag as long as it fits under the seat in front of you.  I fill up the biggest bag I can find and stuff it full!  I usually don’t have that completely packed until right before I walk out the door, but keep an eye on instagram, and maybe I’ll get some of those pics posted later today.

Are these packing tips helpful for anywhere you’re headed to this spring break or summer?  What are some of your easy packing techniques?

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