With spring break coming up right around the corner, I know there are a lot of travel plans being made. Being a former flight attendant, I have a few packing tips up my sleeve that I think can help even the most seasoned traveler.
Back in my flying days I averaged over 700 flights a year; packing became second nature, and I learned about what NOT to do as well. Are you planning a trip soon? Check out these tips and see what you think!
Lists are vital if you want to avoid last-minute packing panic. Making your list at least a week out when you’re not stressing is best. Plus, it eases your mind when you have it already written out and all you have to do is cross things off the list. I don’t know about you, but I love crossing things off lists – so satisfying!
Here is a free printable packing list I made just for you! And here is a free printable kids packing list I made, too! Here’s what it looks like (remember, the picture is just for reference. Click the link for the printable one!):
Less Is Better
Choosing what is vitally important and what isn’t is the biggest packing obstacle there is. To bring or not to bring? That is the question. Most of the time, the answer is not to bring. Paring down can be hard, but it’s necessary if you don’t want to haul around 20 lbs. of unnecessary items. (And if you’re flying, every pound counts.) So, here are a few guidelines I follow to make my life easier when I travel, and hopefully they’ll help you, too!
The Three Shoe Rule
There are only 3 types of shoes you’ll need on any trip. Dressy, flat, and casual. For dressy, find a pair of versatile heels you can wear with anything, to dress up your jeans or complement an evening dress. Black goes with everything, of course, but don’t feel you have to limit yourself to it.
For flats, comfort is key. These are for walking, exploring, and daily activities where you need a cute shoe that’s also comfy. Tieks are out of my budget (oh so cute, though!), but there are a million different types of cute flats you can find (I found the ones pictured at Walmart!) Just make sure you break them in before your trip. (Also, riding boots count as flats.)
For your casual pair, sneakers (or workout shoes), flip-flops, or a pair of sandals work great. Follow the 3 shoe rule and you’ll be covered!
Tip: Always put shoes near the base of your suitcase so that when you turn it upright, they don’t smash your clothes when gravity kicks in.
Bonus Tip: Wear your bulkiest pair of shoes while you’re traveling so that your smaller shoes stay in your bag and take up less room.
Bring Mix & Match Basics
Now that you know how to make your shoes versatile, do the same with your outfits. How to tell if something is versatile? You should be able to wear it at least twice during your trip without anyone noticing. A few of my favorite basics are jeans (naturally), a solid color dress that can be worn in the daytime or dressed up with heels and accessories for nighttime, a denim jacket (cute and useful!), and a pair of both white and black skinny jeans or shorts depending on weather. Add 5 shirts (a couple casual and some more dressy) and that’s 10 items that will last me 2 weeks!
Need some ideas on what to wear? Head over to my pal Lindsey’s blog at www.apilotswife.com for tons of super cute outfit inspiration ideas from a fellow pilot’s wife!
Roll With It
Once you’ve decided what is most important to pack, it’s also good to know how to pack your things to make the most of the room in your suitcase. It’s much better for your clothes to roll them rather than fold them. Rolling helps prevent wrinkles, which is great because who has time to iron on vacation?! It also allows for more room. When in doubt, roll it out, but remember to allow enough room for clothes to breathe. If you smash too many clothes all together you’ll have wrinkles no matter how much you roll. Roll with it, sista.
Store Jewelry Together
Obviously, don’t bring your most expensive or valuable jewelry with you when you travel. For what you do bring, having a designated travel case for your jewelry is smart and also helps keep you organized. I can’t remember where I found the one I have in the picture, but I’m sure you can find something similar on Amazon. Make sure it’s small enough that you can’t over pack that, either.
Tip: if you can fit your jewelry case in your carry-on or purse, that’s the best way to go. Even if it’s not valuable, you still don’t want to lose it.
You Can Never Have Enough Bags
Ziploc, that is. Use the big ones to store your liquid items (shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, perfume, etc.) and you’ll thank me later. Luggage can go through some crazy handling (not to mention pressurization) during its journey from one place to another, and I can’t tell you how many times my clothing has been saved by a plastic bag carrying my liquids. Bonus points if you remember to bring extra, you can use them for all sorts of things. (Like keeping shoes away from your clothing or to hold wet swimsuits!)
Tip: Bring a designated laundry bag. I hate coming back from a trip and not being able to tell what’s clean and what’s dirty, so I end up just throwing everything in the wash. Ever since I started bringing a dirty clothes bag with me, there’s no more unnecessary laundry!
Keep Extras In Your Suitcase
Life is so much easier when you have duplicates. (Except for kids. Hahaha, I just crack myself up!) Keep a spare phone charger in your suitcase all the time and you’ll never forget one again. (This is in the top 3 for items left at home.) Also keep an extra toothbrush and anything else you couldn’t live without if you forgot it at home.
Make Your Luggage Stand Out
Seems like a no-brainer, but I STILL see a million plain black roll-aboards making their way around the luggage carousel in baggage claim every time I fly. (Yeah, that’s right, it’s not “rollerboard,” contrary to popular mispronunciation/misspelling – that’s another blog post entirely.)
Make your bag stand out, people! Whether you use travel stickers (fun!), a cool vintage suitcase (I love my little blue one, pictured), or tie fancy ribbons on the handle, it’s priceless and oh-so-time-saving to be able to pluck your bag from the others with ease.
I hope you enjoyed my essential packing tips! Please leave a comment with any tips of your own you’d like to add, I would love to hear them!
The Flight Wife