Traveling can be tough. It’s stressful to pack your world into a bag and leave home. Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole sightseeing bit of travel, and would never turn down an opportunity to see the world. But the entire packing and living out of a suitcase bit really stinks.
We all want to make traveling easier. For our family, living abroad has led to many travel opportunities. Over the past two years, I have developed some tricks of the travel trade. They have streamlined the whole packing process and even help keep us organized while on the road. I hope they will help you make the tedious job of packing and the frustrating attempts at staying organized while living out of a suitcase more tolerable.
1. A Travel Book
Before you even pull out your suitcase, sit down and organize all your travel details into a book. This makes all of your important information easy to access at a glance. I like to include: an overall itinerary, contact information, confirmation numbers, hotel/airline/house rental/car rental information, things to do in the area, tipping or local customs, etc.
2. Your Medical Information
Similar to the travel book, We have a medical binder complete with passport and visa photos, copies of insurance cards, immunization records, and any allergies or essential medical information. It becomes an easy item to grab in case of an emergency situation, especially when traveling overseas.
3. A Passport Holder
It is always so helpful for us to have a central place to keep all of our passports, entry/exit cards, boarding passes, etc. I develop a bit of OCD when we travel, and tend to check and recheck I have all of our necessary documents. Having all our documents in one easy to carry location makes this process much more manageable.
4. Bag O’ Cords
Successful traveling requires a lot of organization. I have found it very handy to keep all of my charging cords, extra batteries, plugs, adapters, converters (basically anything electronic) together in one bag. It makes it easy to find these items both on the plane and at our destination.
5. Luggage Scale
I cannot tell you how many times we have been on a trip, bought souvenirs, packed them in our suitcase, then wondered if it was overweight. Throwing a luggage scale in your bag will dispel any concerns as to whether or not your suitcase is too heavy.
6. Extra Packable Bag
Along the lines of souvenirs, I also cannot tell you how many times we have been on vacation, bought our souvenirs, then realized they wouldn’t all fit in the suitcases we brought. Or even worse, they would fit, but made our suitcases overweight. So now we just pack an additional duffel bag in our suitcase just in case. I mean, we can’t say no to a perfect memento from our trip!
7. Travel Meds
I get a bit paranoid when we travel, medically speaking. This is especially true if we are going to a foreign country and I don’t know what medications will be available. So I like to think through every illness or injury that could possibly occur and bring every medication we could possibly need. As you can imagine, all the different pills and creams I brought were taking up a lot of precious room and became difficult to find in a pinch. So I streamlined all our pills into small travel pill containers that fit inside one larger case. Although the case fits a lot of different medications, it still fits comfortably in my carry-on, and we have all we could possibly need readily accessible.
8. Travel Toiletries
When possible, buy all of your toiletries in travel sizes. Space and weight are precious commodities in luggage so the lighter, and smaller, the better. Some items like shampoo may be purchased pre-filled, or you can buy empty travel bottles and fill with your own favorite things. For example, I like to fill empty bottles with my brand of hairspray and face wash.
9. Toiletry Bags
Each person in our family gets their own hanging toiletry bag. They are responsible for making sure everything they may need is in their bag. Once we arrive at our destination, I hand out toiletry bags. They hang them in their bathroom, and everyone has their own individual needs taken care of. Of course, the boy’s bags are way smaller than mine. 😉
10. Suction Cup Hooks
These have been so handy if a few of us need to share a bathroom. The worst thing is when you are sharing a shower and can’t figure out who’s washcloth is whose. We bring suction cup hooks with initials on them. They stick right onto a shower wall, and we never get our washcloths confused. Unless of course, my lazy boys don’t follow the rules and leave their washcloths in a ball on the edge of the tub, but that is a different issue entirely.
11. Bags That Stand Out
Pretty much everyone seems to have a black suitcase. To quickly spot your suitcase in the baggage claim, buy one that is an unusual color, and tie a colorful ribbon to the handle. Also, in addition to putting your contact information on a luggage tag, put it inside too. This way if your bag gets lost and the luggage tag falls off, there is still a way for the airline to find you. Finally, take a picture of all your checked bags before they go. I like to do this because I am usually exhausted when we arrive at our destination and appreciate a visual reminder at baggage claim in case I am not thinking clearly.
12. Shacke Paks
I am going to go on a total PSA right now. Shacke Paks have revolutionized the way we travel. I’ll be honest, the first time I looked at these packing cubes, I wondered if they would live up to the hype. I mean, on Amazon.com they have been given 5 stars with over 5,000 reviews. Now that’s saying something! That being said, I felt like I had to give them a try. So at the beginning of last summer, I decided to test them out. By the middle of the summer, I had purchased Shacke Paks for every member of the family. They make packing and staying organized while traveling so much easier. If you are a geeky organizer like me, these things will be right up your alley. When all of your different clothing categories are sitting neatly in little cubes in your suitcase, it is hard not to look at it with a huge sense of pride. In addition, we all have different color Shacke Paks, so I know at a quick glance who’s clothes are who’s. When we arrive at our destination, I hand each person their own Shacke Pak and put them in charge of unpacking and repacking their own things. I’m telling you, you will wonder how you ever lived without these fantastic things! Click on this link for more information and try a few for yourself. If I could be a spokesperson for this company, I would. Pure genius!
There you have it. Use these travel tips, and your trips are bound to be easier and more successful. We’ve done all the hard work for you so you can streamline and organize your trip in no time. Now get out there and enjoy your travel!