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  • Writer's picturekelli037

How to Plan Your Vacation and Pack Like a Pro: Tips from a Professional Organizer

1. Research Your Vacation Destination – This can be especially important if you have decided on an international destination. First things first, check the expiration date on your passport. If your passport has expired or you don’t have one you will need to apply for one right away.  The application process can take two or three months. Packing for the weather conditions and activities that you plan to do while you are there will be the best way to start your packing process.  Determine how long you are going to be gone and what size suitcase you’re going to need. The smaller the better unless you want to leave some extra room to bring home souvenirs or cool clothes you bought on vacation. In most cases it’s better to select a smaller suitcase and pack it tightly.
2. Make Your Packing List – There are many free printable packing lists available online.  Whether you are taking a road trip, beach vacation, camping trip, cruise, or even an international trip, it’s always a good idea to have a packing list. This will help insure you haven’t forgotten anything important especially if you are packing for several members of your family.
3. Make Your Shopping List- Don’t wait until the last minute to do your packing list shopping.  This will only stress yourself out when trying to get everything done at the last minute. Besides purchasing the usual toiletries, you may also be wanting to purchase a new pair of walking shoes. If you do, make sure to buy them at least one to two weeks before you leave on your vacation.  Start out by wearing them around the house to slowly break them in.  There’s nothing worse than getting a blister on your first day out on your vacation.
Another helpful tip is to purchase empty travel size containers to put your hair and skincare products into.  You can also stop by the makeup counter and ask the salesclerk if they have any sample size packets of your skincare, and makeup.  It’s more affordable to use the refillable travel size containers than buying the small product sizes.
If you do plan to travel internationally, then you will need to buy a converter to plug in your curling iron and hair dryer. Other recommendations would be to buy a money belt and support socks to prevent blood clots on long flights.
4. Prepack Your Toiletry Bag – It’s a really good idea to prepack your toiletry bag several days early if you can.  This will save you a bunch of time when you’re ready to leave on your trip. If you are going to be gone for more than a few days buy your shampoo, conditioner, and body wash when you get to your destination.  Larger size bottles can really weigh your bag down so it’s one way you can lighten your suitcase.  Streamline your personal products as much as possible.  A BB cream, for example is an all-in-one product which replaces a moisturizer, foundation, and sunscreen.  Use clear Ziplock bags for your toiletries.  This will keep them from leaking all over your suitcase and the TSA security can easily see what’s in your bag.
5. Pack Your Suitcase – How you decide to pack your items in your suitcase is entirely up to you but there are a few strategies that are favored by seasoned travelers. Some people like to roll their clothes.  Others like to use zippered packing cubes, Velcro Pack- It folders, and vacuum pack bags. These can all save space and prevent wrinkles.  My personal favorite is a combination of the Pack-It folders and the packing cubes. The Pack-It folders come with a folding chart that shows you a step by step folding process that you can use to fold your clothes neatly in the folder.  I like pairing my outfits together when I pack.  One medium size Pack-It folder can hold 10-12 articles of clothing depending on the size.  Pack-It folders and packing cubes come in several different sizes, colors, and fabric options.  This is super helpful if more than one person is sharing the same suitcase or if you have separated your clothes by type or function.  I like to roll my swimsuits, cover ups, pajamas, socks and under garments into packing cubes and I like to fold my shirts, pants, shorts, and dresses into the Pack-It folders.  These packing options help prevent your clothes from shifting all around your suitcase too.  If TSA should need to inspect your belongings don’t fret.  Your things should be safe and secure just as they are.  Before I started using packing systems my clothes would be an upside-down mess especially if TSA went through them.  On one of my vacations, I had quite a surprise when I got to the hotel and opened my suitcase.  I discovered that I had several articles of clothing that weren’t even mine.  I couldn’t believe it. Don’t let that happen to you.
Here are some other helpful packing tips.
· Put your shoes in plastic bags to protect your other belongings and place them toe to toe on the outer rim of the suitcase.
· Place the heaviest items at bottom of the suitcase toward the wheels.  This will ensure that when your suitcase is in the upright position it won’t become top heavy.
· Stuff your socks into your shoes and fill your bra cups with your underwear.
· Place your belt along the inside perimeter to protect its shape.
· Place dryer sheets in and around your clothes to keep them smelling fresh.  If you have some clothes that are clean and some that are dirty the dryer sheets will help control the smell. 
· Bring a few scented plastic trash bags along.  You can put your dirty laundry in them to help control the smell and keep your dirty clothes separated from the clean ones. You can also use the bag to put in any damp swimsuits or clothes on your return trip home.
·Wear the bulkiest items such as your jacket, sweatshirt, and jeans. 
6. Identify your luggage – Make sure to identify your suitcases both inside and outside.  Every suitcase should have a bag tag on it with your name, email, phone number and your destination.   You can buy bag tags in all kinds of fun bright colors and shapes. A lot of people like to attach a bright colored ribbon or handle wrap to their suitcase to quickly identify it as it goes around on the carousel. 
Apple has now developed an air tag that can be attached to or put inside your suitcase as a tracker.  This is a great way to always know where your suitcase is.  The cost of one air tag is around $29 and is operated by using a Bluetooth connection. This could really be helpful if you have several connecting flights or planning an international trip.
7. Weigh your suitcase – Buy a digital luggage scale and weigh your suitcase before you leave the house.  There’s nothing worse than getting to the airline check in counter and discover that your suitcase is over the 50lb weight limit and then be charged an additional fee.  Pack the digital luggage scale with you and weigh your suitcase again on your return trip home.
8. Make Photocopies – It’s very important to make a photocopy your driver’s license, passport, debit, and credit cards before leaving on your trip.  Leave the copies with a family member or friend in case your purse or wallet gets stolen. It will be much easier to report the incident if you have the account numbers.
9. Download the Travel Apps – Take a few minutes and download your airline travel app.  Enter in your flight information to be kept up to date on any delays or cancellations. It’s quick and easy.  You may also want to download any ground transportation apps such as Lyft and Uber.  I would recommend waiting twenty or thirty minutes after your flight lands and you’ve retrieved your suitcases to initiate your ride pick up.  You can often save 50% on your transportation.    
Have a great vacation!


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