Over the past few years, I’ve done more overnight trips and airplane trips than I ever imagined, and even added a few road trips to our family’s already-substantial road trip list. Past experience of vacationing while moving across the country with young children is good training for learning what you must have, what you always overpack, and what makes things easier and more fun.
But those days of long journeys to new homes ended in 2000 when we settled here in western WA for my military hubby’s last assignment. Since then, we’ve done family weekends, college weekends (lots — I love hanging with my kids!) and then began my semi-frequent trips to Becca’s adopted state of Arizona and overnights at Sam’s.
No matter where I am going, or for how long, I always use the same basic mental checklist for packing!
I’m currently planning and preparing for a trip to Australia (!!! :) darn hubby’s work for sending him there!) People are asking me far in advance if I am packing yet, if I can get everything done in time, etc. At first I was a little confused why it should be such a big deal. I mean, the TRIP is a big deal! But packing just requires the same checklist as always.
Unless you are on a tight budget, forgotten items can be purchased almost anywhere the average traveler will be going. They have toothbrushes in Arizona and flip-flops in Australia. The only sadly forgotten items have been swimsuits in the winter — hotel pools can be fun, relaxing, a definite change of pace but you can’t usually run out and buy a suit in November or February. (In the northern hemisphere, anyway heh heh.)
I have done some recent online shopping for new shorts and swimsuits and a few summer tops because my warm weather wardrobe was neglected last summer and needed freshening up anyway. I can already check that chore off of my springtime to-do list!
Here’s my All-Purpose Packing List. It’s permanently in my head in this order! Customize each item for your specific trip.
- PJs — sleepwear for the temps in which you will be sleeping. Hotel rooms never are cool enough for me, so I rarely take my at-home flannel PJ pants.
- UNDIES — undies of all categories
- CLOTHES — outfits (including one for getting grungy and one moderately nice evening out and one comfy-but-not-PJs, and/or whatever is anticipated for the type of trip it is)
- SWIMSUIT — also cover-up, flip-flops, towel as you wish.
- SHOES — shoes to go with outfits and slippers if you require them.
- COATS — outerwear and sweaters (including warm hats or sun hats! and possibly gloves/mittens)
- ACCESSORIES — jewelry, a couple fave scarves or belts, but don’t go crazy taking every single piece you own — plan your outfits/accessories to cut down on the fuss
- BATHROOM STUFF — toiletries and makeup that you use every day and week — don’t bring a random bottle of conditioner if you never really use conditioner
- PERSONAL — girl supplies; you know!
- MEDS — prescription meds, vitamin supplements, and pain reliever (if you’ve got a touchy tummy, also take your preferred relief so you have it immediately). Do you need sunscreen or bug repellent?
- ELECTRONICS — don’t forget your chargers and cords
- ENTERTAINMENT — knit/crochet, coloring book, reading material (and personal reading light?), crossword puzzle book, journal/sketch book with pencils/pens and sharpener for doodling etc, new off-line app for your phone/tablet/puter downloaded ahead of time — whatever you like to occupy your time. Soccer ball?
- SNACKS/WATER couple of protein bars or meal replacement bars, disposable water bottle that can be reused (or your choice, of course.) If you’re going camping, this obviously means all the food in addition to car snacks!
In my purse/tote that is my smallest bag that I have with me 24/7, I have at least 2 days of meds and all rescue meds and comfort meds, travel toothbrush, sanitizing wipes like Wet-Ones, snacks/water listed above, phone charger, e-book/book, and list-making/note-taking material. Of course, cash and debit card and charge card and ID. (Plus an extra pair of panties because if I got stuck in an airport overnight I would just want them!) Also, always – always have a light-weight jacket.
If I have a second small bag — a carry-on to go in the overhead or that the airline may offer to check for free, I have a full change of clothes or two and some PJs, heavier jacket if cold weather, all the rest of my meds and toiletries (quantities and packed for airplane carry-on if flying,) more entertainment. If going by car, this bag contains the clothing I need for the travel days so I don’t have to take my second, larger suitcase out of the vehicle or paw around in it until I am at my destination.
Big suitcase: all the rest, including majority of shoes, clothes, larger bottles/tubes of liquids that can’t be carried on or just purchased at destination.
It’s up to you to decide where you camera travels!
As for leaving your house… what do you want to come back to?
Clean out your frig, empty your wastebaskets, put the things that need to be in the safe/fire-proof box away, turn down the thermostat, water the plants, lock all doors and windows, turn off the lights except for what you intentionally are leaving on (or use timers.) For longer trips, arrange for someone to house sit it or stop by frequently (and mow in the summer), stop the mail and paper, know how you can pay your bills, let your bank and credit cards know you will be using them out of the area, for international use call your cell phone provider, and make sure your washing machine is really empty ;) I love coming home to a tidy house and clean sheets so I try to leave it that way. Have your house sitter pick up some milk, eggs, bread, or whatever to have fresh in your frig when you arrive home — super luxury!
Happy travels in 2016! Mine is sure going to get started right!