Five Tips To Simplify Trip Preparations

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Five Tips To Simplify Trip Preparations

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Over the years, I’ve developed a few ideas to help streamline travel preparations as its not uncommon to unpack, wash clothes, put away for a week, and pack again.  The following tips help me to keep my sanity when dropping everything and hitting the road is the priority. 

Here are 5 Tips to help simplify your trip preparations.

Use a Backpack For Carry On

Our family has a reputation for being professional travelers.  We aren’t quite full time (yet), but we certainly make the most of our time off and our weekends.  It’s also common for my husband to come home from work and say, “Let’s get in the car and see where we end up.” As you can imagine, this can create a lot of stress if I am not ready for it.

Wearing Backpacks in the Airport

Having a backpack packed and ready to go makes this so simple. I prefer to use a backpack or Vera Bradly Tote instead of a suitcase so the children can pitch in more easily.  We love ourUnder Armor backpacks.  They have plenty of room and combined with my space saver bags, I can pack at least 4 days of clothes in each backpack. 

 To help keep things organized you might also consider using packing cubes.

We also find it cheaper to wash clothes on the road than to pay for the extra baggage fees the airlines charge.  You can use color saver sheets to decrease the number of loads you need to wash. Most of our longer road trips can include more than 10 hotels so getting backpacks in and out of the car is much easier than a 50 pound suitcase.

Use A Road Trip Planner

Our last three major family road trips have been more than 15 days long and involved numerous hotels and stop overs.  I used to think just having all the confirmations saved in my emails was enough, but that turned out to be less than reliable when road tripping through national parks.   

Road Trip Planner

I also found that having the confirmation numbers on a long road trip isn’t enough.  Vacations that involve moving from one place to the next over the course of several weeks tend to have more moving parts than simply staying in the same hotel in the same location for one week.  We also have food allergies and finding restaurants before we arrive helps simplify the stress involved in eating out.  

When planning longer trips, it is helpful to have a single sheet that contains the destinations, points of interest, hotels with address, phone number and confirmations, and even restaurant options at your finger tips.  I created a spreadsheet to help with that and it has made a huge difference in our long road trip preparations.  I would love to share it with you. 

Less is More: Always

Hiking and traveling from town to town with a group of seven people has taught me that I can get by with much less than I realized in the past.  Shopping smart for the kind’ve outfits that convert well and can handle days that start in the 30’s and end up in the 90’s can be a challenge.  These items have helped my reduce our packing needs. 

  1. Buff: We heard about buffs last spring and purchased one before our three weeks through Arizona and Utah.  I thought it would be more for dust, but it turned out to be so versatile.  It was great on cold mornings as an ear muff or to keep my neck warm as a scarf.  Later, when it got hot, it was great for cooling down.  We would soak it in cold water and put it on our heads for quick relief from the hot sun.
  2. Comfortable hiking shoes: Finding shoes that are comfortable all day hasn’t always been easy for me, but now that I found Salomon’s I will never go back.  They are great on the trail and continue to be comfortable in the evenings when going out for dinner.  I only pack my Salomon’s and a pair of Teva Sandals. 
  3. Eddie Bauer Roll-Up Pants: These pants have become a great addition to my travel light wardrobe.  They are light weight and comfortable. In the mornings when it is cool on the trail they are perfect and by mid-day when the temperatures creep up, they are light weight and roll up to keep you cool.
  4. Quick wicking black athletic skort: This item is also great for the trail and then later for dinner.  I wear leggings underneath in the morning and then slip them off when it gets too hot.
  5. Quick wicking shirts: Again something cool and easily folded into small sizes works well here. I also usually purchase one longer sleeved base layer wool shirt for cooler mornings.
  6. I also love wool socks as they don’t sweat and keep odor down and are perfect for all day wear.

If you love wearing jeans, check out this great post for the best travel jeans for men and women.

Always keep toiletries packed

It’s always interesting how you can pack for five people and get all the clothes, but leave behind the little necessities.

Keeping a bathroom bag packed and ready to go alleviates this problem quite nicely.

Most hotels will give you toothbrushes and tooth paste so I no longer even bother packing those.

Another no brainer.  When I was younger and there were only two of us, it never seemed necessary, but with five of us now, it’s really helpful.  

We created a minimalist backpack carry-on packing list for you that you can print out.  Click here or below to sign up for our newsletter and get your download.

In the market for a new cooler?  Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Best Rotomolded Coolers on the market. 

Enjoy hiking with your family? Check out our 9 Best Tips for hiking with kids by Outdoor Travel bloggers.

Need ideas for gifts for the outdoor enthusiasts in your life?  Check our Gifts for Hikers Guide

For a review of the best travel bags in 2018 check out this article.

For a more comprehensive Road Trip Packing list  read this post and read this if you are looking for some money saving tips for families that travel. 

Here is a review of other backpacks you can use to carry-on.

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Amanda Bowers owner and author at VeraVise WOW Travel


We are a family travel blog focusing on outdoor family adventures, road trips, and Disney Vacations. We hope you find our travel guides and reviews helpful.

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13 thoughts on “Five Tips To Simplify Trip Preparations

  1. I’, a huge fan of packing lists, I have one for each persona and for section of packing eg. clothes, toiletries, medical. I also have certain things that live in my suitcase eg my clothes washing kit, small sewing kit, pocket knife, power adapters. Why keep them in a cupboard I only wan them for travel so easier to open the case to start packing and they are already there.

  2. Great tips. I definitely have travel clothes. I used to keep them packed when I was researching my camping guidebooks. It was the only way to stay sane. Now I just have a list based on what kind of trip I will be taking and the length of trip. Toiletries and scuba gear stay packed year-round.

  3. Great tips – We have as much packed and ready to go as is feasible, I think. We dream of always having a bag fully packed and ready to roll, too! I imagine that would be harder with growing kids…but we can’t even seem to do it for just the grown-ups. ? Another bag we always have at the ready, pre-packed in our suitcases, are gadget bags with chargers and cables. That way, we don’t have to run around the house looking for them at the last minute. Really helps keep us on schedule! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  4. While having a suitcase full of pre-packed clothes sounds like a good idea, I could never manage this! I try to have a different outfit for each trip (sometimes new, sometimes old). I would however like to have some clothes waiting for me back in the states so I don’t need to worry about luggage when I go home for a visit. Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  5. we have a caravan and we keep inside clothes as well as towels, plates, dry food, diapers and so on. we only need to take underwear and fresh food and we’re ready to go.

  6. Good tips. I kind of like the idea of keeping travel related items in a special place, but not clothes. I have a few drawers where I keep our fins, snorkels and other scuba items. We also have our ski equipment gear in one place. However, we have to wear our clothes and I can’t keep them in suitcases. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Yeah, I just always have these grand ideas of having a suitcase packed with “extra clothes”. We sort’ve did that this year in the camper. I just put a bunch of older things and left them in there for next year.

    • Yes, we too camp and I do the same. I actually just told hubby I was gonna go shopping for travel only clothes and pack a bag that stays packed with those clothes for impromptu last minute travel as well as camping.

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