Pack it up and head out!

Pack it up and head out!

Probably the most aggravating part of any vacation is the packing and the unpacking. Most people tend to over-pack and there is no advantage in that. The best advice is to make a plan! Pack only for the days you will be gone and only for the activities you will be involved in. Unless you are in the wild, one outfit can be recycled for wear another day. You can sleep in the same pajamas for several nights.

Where are you going? If you are going to the beach, you probably don’t need those strappy heels, no matter how cute they are. If you are in the mountains in the winter, you can probably leave the bathing suit at home.

What will you be doing? Vacations should be relaxing. Unless you are going to a show or a fancy restaurant, you probably will not need to bring your dressiest clothes. Most churches will welcome visitors who didn’t bring their Sunday best with them. If you are going to be climbing mountains, skip the flip flops and bring your hiking boots instead.

Who are you going with? If the vacation is just your immediate family, you can be more casual and relaxed. Are you going to be traveling with a group? If that’s the case, you may need to put a little extra care into your wardrobe. Don’t forget your bathrobe when traveling with a group!

Less is more. The lighter you pack, the easier it will be to load and unload everything. Pack clothes that you can mix and match. You can probably wear the same pair of pants two or three times. Bring lightweight shirts or tops that you can wear with the same bottom. You certainly do not want to appear unkempt, but patterned clothing is a great way to camouflage stains. Unless you are going to some very remote location, you can always do a load of laundry while on vacation if you must. With airlines charging for overweight and additional luggage, lighter packing is a necessity if you are flying. Try to get everything into one carry-on bag to avoid the possibility of lost luggage.

Many of the bulky items that we consider necessities can be rented very inexpensively. Theme parks rent strollers so why pack yours and lug it around? Some rental properties have play pens available. There is no need to pack your heavy golf clubs just in case you decide to play a couple of rounds while you are on vacation. The majority of golf courses will rent you clubs at a very reasonable rate.

Do not duplicate. If possible, one person should be in charge of the packing. That person should at least decide what should and should not be packed. This can eliminate duplicates in personal items like toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo and hair dryers.

Check for the essentials. Make sure that all necessary medications and health-related items are packed. It is advisable to place your doctor’s name and phone number, along with your insurance identification card in a zip lock bag along with your medication. This can be invaluable in case of an emergency. It is a good idea to put emergency contact information with your health data.

If you are one of the savvy vacationers who have elected to rent a vacation home, cabin, condo or villa, check with the property manager before you pack. These rental properties often provide many of the comforts of home. The fewer items you have to take, the better!

Think about your safety. Be prepared for minor emergencies. If you are on a road trip, make sure you have a flashlight and flares, a spare tire, maps and an extra car key. Be sure to include a first-aid kit. Battery chargers for your cell phone are a must. If you will be driving for several hours, pack a small cooler with snacks and drinks. Be sure to pack a couple of garbage bags to use along the way.

Of course you will need entertainment for the trip. Small games, books and hand-held toys will help pass the time for younger travelers. Pack some games and books away to provide fresh entertainment once you arrive.

Packing for a vacation does not need to be stressful and should not require hours to accomplish. Make a plan and stick to it. Take what you need, but only what you will actually use. If you forget something, don’t let that ruin your vacation. If you run out of socks or deodorant, there’s always a store nearby. Remember that less is best!