Packing 101: Selection

Packing Smart
Photo by Craig Sunter via Flickr

Whether flying or driving to your next vacation destination, you can make the travel a little easier by packing smarter. Lightening your load can be liberating, leaving you with fewer things to worry about and more energy to enjoy your adventure. There are countless strategies for managing your baggage, but they all boil down to two categories—organization and selection. Today’s post will cover how decide what you should bring. Check back later for tips on getting it all into your case.

I know you have a closet full of amazing clothes at home. And you don’t know exactly what your new environment will call for. But that doesn’t mean you should pack a unique for every possible situation you might find yourself in. That kind of packing will only make more work for you and likely won’t yield the results you expect. Because nobody can plan for every eventuality.

Make a list. This isn’t a list of each exact piece of clothing you want to bring. OK, if you want to pack your favorite button-up, put that on the list. But otherwise keep it vague. Count the number of days and nights you’ll be traveling, and think of the type of activities you’ll be doing. Then write down loose terms for the absolute necessities you’ll need to bring. You can get more specific later in the process if you’re the type of person who’d forget their head if it wasn’t screwed on. But for now, it should read something like: toiletries, 5 t-shirts, 2 pair shorts, 1 pair jeans, pajamas, swim suit, 5 socks & underwear, 1 pair shoes.

Decide on a color scheme. Try to pick out items that are in the same color family, and don’t be too liberal with items of coordinating color. If you’re afraid of feeling like you’re wearing the same thing all the time, consider opening your suitcase on the final day only to find striped pants and a polka dotted shirt. (While this might technically qualify as a power clash, that’s a topic for another day…and another blog.) By limiting your wardrobe to one color scheme, you’re actually opening up more combinations, which means you can pack fewer items.

Follow the classic rules. We all know that pants can be worn multiple times before needing to be washed. And if you swap out your shirt, nobody is going to notice that you’re wearing the same pants as a day or two ago. Multi-purpose garments are another traditional travel staple. Many ladies have a little black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Similarly, men have a coat and maybe a tie. If you have a piece of clothing that you would only wear in one specific situation, it probably shouldn’t make it into the suitcase. (Of course exceptions will be made if you’re traveling to an event like a wedding. Don’t leave your bridesmaid dress behind just because I said so.)

Plan to do laundry. I know laundry isn’t fun, and it might be the last thing you want to deal with on your vacation. But when space is truly at a premium, this might be your best option. And planning ahead can make it relatively painless. When booking accommodations, try to pick a place that has laundry facilities on-site or nearby. All of Stay Alfred’s vacation rental properties have in-home washers and dryers, so you can wash whenever it’s most convenient. We even provide the detergent! If you aren’t staying somewhere with such amenities, don’t forget to pack a roll of quarters or some cash, and throw some single load detergent pods in with your toiletries.

I hope these tips help you on your next trip. And if you don’t have a trip planned, check out our properties for a little inspiration.