I pride myself on my packing.
I realise it’s not one of life’s ultimate goals, but it has to be said, I do pack well.
At least once during our holiday Chris will ask me if I’ve brought something or other. It’s like a test. Silence reigns while the cogs of my mind re-live the packing process of the previous day and the unpacking at our destination.
“Yes!!” I exclaim and dash to find whatever it is, returning triumphantly waving said item like a trophy, the World Cup if you will.
My top tip is to plan.
I follow a list – I have a packing list for each type of holiday; beach, skiing, weekend break, and I tick things off as they go into the suitcases; not before, not half an hour later but as SOON as they go in. And I pack for everyone. Chris and the boys will leave what they want to take in the spare room for me and having checked that it’s okay to be seen abroad, I pack it.
My two teenage boys are now as tall as their father and you can imagine they want to take a lot of clothes and all adult sized to boot! Gone are the days when their little tricky shorts, t-shirts and swim shorts would barely fill half a suitcase! Every kilo of allowance is now precious and more to the point, it is used. It’s my clothes that take up the least space now, but my lotions and potions are another matter…
I pack the cases the day before but everything we need is out and ready for a few days before that. I print out My Ultimate Holiday Packing List which has been 17 years in the making. Before my eldest was born I was very much a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type of girl. And sometimes the seat of my pants and a credit card were pretty much all I managed to take with me on holiday. (They have shops in Spain right?) But then -BAM! – baby comes along and suddenly you have to take EVERYTHING (Because they don’t have nappies in Spain right?)
And so my list was born.
It has been added to and amended accordingly over the years but has saved me days and days of stressing about what I need to take with me and what I need to buy.
About 6 weeks before departure, my spare room becomes my ‘Holiday Room’. I assemble 3 clothes rails and slowly start to gather ‘holiday clothes’. The top of the chest of drawers starts to accumulate sunscreen, shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste and other toiletries I pick up when I’m out and about. I bought some insect repellent bands today and they have taken their place on the chest of drawers.
4 weeks out I print my list and refer to it before shopping trips to buy things we need.
My next top tip is to use packing cubes.
You either love them or used them once and never again. I urge you to give them a go. I even use packing cubes to pack carry-on bags and each member of the family has a different colour. (So they can unpack their own stuff at the other end.) I use these from Amazon and they’ve stood the test of multiple holidays! (I also bought a travel neck pillow at the same time which was THE most uncomfortable thing ever!)
Top Tip 3
Use the Konmari method of folding as shown here by one of my favourite bloggers, Abby Lawson, from Just A Girl And Her Blog. Clothes fit well into the cubes folding this way.
Top Tip 4
Put bottles in ziplock bags in case of spillages. Then pack them into the cubes.
Top Tip 5
Wrap shoes in plastic bags before packing into your cubes. Keep the plastic bags though – chances are your shoes will be dusty or sandy on the return journey!
Top Tip 6
Use an empty plastic biscuit box for your First Aid Kit. I use a big square one which has a snappy lid. Everything fits into it. Label it though unless you want to see the disappointed look on your husband’s face when he thinks you’ve brought a delicious biscuit selection on holiday…
Top Tip 7
Don’t forget the clear plastic bag in your hand luggage carrying all those liquids, lip balms and creams (100ml or less only). Be aware though that some cosmetic cases bought specifically for this may not be allowed through, especially if they are stuffed full and it’s difficult to see what’s in them. I suggest each adult has their own, and the items spread out in the bag in a single layer.
I’ll be starting the holiday packing process again soon for our last one together as a family. My two teenagers have made it clear that they don’t really want to come away with us next year, preferring the company of friends and more exciting destinations such as Ayia Napa or San Antonio on Ibiza. Eek!
Maybe next year I’ll fly by the seat of my pants again!