Today, we pack. We are leaving for vacation tomorrow, so today I thought I'd share some packing tips on how to do it quickly and efficiently. I have to say, after all of the traveling we've done, I am a pro at this.
1. Pack as you think of things, and make a list of things you can't. For about a week before our trip, I have a spot set up in our piano room for the vacation things. When I think of some odd item we will need, I grab it and put it in there. For example, I added a few games to the stack a few days ago. They are with the food and paper goods we purchased on Tuesday. (Each year for vacation, the kids are each allowed to pick one "junk" cereal they normally aren't allowed to have, and I'll throw in some cookies and chips we never buy.) For things we are using and can't pack until later in the week, I have an ongoing list. Things like chargers, camera, and boys' blankies are on it.
2. Let your kids do the work. I don't go from room to room collecting the clothes they will need. I certainly don't trust them to pack on their own, though. I gather the children and sit myself down on the landing outside their bedrooms with the large suitcase and any other bags I need. I then call out the first items on the list, such as, "two pairs of pajamas and your bathing suit." The kids race to their drawers, grab the items, and bring them back to me. I check to make sure the items are correct, then put them where I want them. Even the two year old gathers his own clothes. Once everyone has returned, I call out the next item, "four clean pairs of shorts and four clean, matching T-shirts." When they return, I check to make sure that they do, in fact, match and that they do, in fact, have the correct number. This step is usually when I have to send a child back for a redo. Inevitably, at least one child will bring back a pair of shorts full of holes or a shirt with stains all over it. The entire process of packing their clothes takes 20 minutes, tops. I also use this method when gathering the last minute items from Tip #1.
3. Organize by activity or where it will go when you get there. Put all swimming gear together, including suits, towels, goggles, and sunscreen. All shoes will be put on and taken off at the door of the rental house/hotel, so put all extra shoes in one bag. If you will be staying overnight somewhere on your drive to the final destination, pack one small suitcase with everything you will need for that night, including sheets for a Pack-n-Play, diapers for the night, and any baby items you will need to restock the diaper bag. (No need to unload the entire car for one night.) We run the Turkey Trot every year in Ohio on Thanksgiving morning, so all we need for the run for all eight of us, including gloves, hats, and running shoes, goes in one bag. I have even been known to label the different bags, so everyone knows what each bag contains.
4. Pack the car yourself. No one is allowed to load anything into the van but me. Not even Hubby. They do carry things to the van, but they leave it in the driveway next to the van. I load things in the opposite direction that I'll need them. Since I am the one that packed everything, I am the only one who knows what will be needed when. If I let Hubby or the kids pack, the overnight bag for the first night would be shoved under the seat, behind the big suitcase and the bags of food for the final destination.
5. Keep in mind the shape of your vehicle when packing. I know what fits where in our van. I have to, because a 12-passenger van doesn't have much room in the "trunk" area. I need to use every nook and cranny I can find. A package of diapers fits perfectly between the side of the van and the post of the back seat. The large suitcase fits perfectly under the back seat, as long as I don't over stuff it. A 20-gallon tote fits nicely in the trunk, so I put food and paper products for the trip in that instead of having a bunch of grocery bags. Plus, I can stack things on top of it, and it can be used as the laundry basket at the rental. And finally, keep it steady. This is really the reason that Hubby isn't allowed to pack. His method of packing and stacking our stuff ensures that it all falls out on top of the unsuspecting soul who opens the door.
6. Pack some newspaper with your shoes. This isn't just a vacation tip, but a general tip for everyday. If your tennis shoes get wet, don't put them in the dryer. Simply stuff a bunch of newspaper inside of them. The newspaper sucks up all of the water, and well before morning, your shoes will be dry. My kids always take some newspaper to camp for just this reason.
That's all for now. I've gotta get to gettin'. Besides packing, I've got some tomato canning to do, a library run for books for the car ride, and a little good-bye play time at the playground with our friends moving to Japan. They leave tomorrow, too.
Have a lovely week!