Keep "travel" clothes
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. Here are a few tips that have helped.
I have not achieved this one completely, but it is my goal to just have a suitcase full of travel clothes already packed with the plan to come home, wash, and repack immediately. It would be wonderful not to even have to think about our packing before leaving.
In the Car Bag for Kids
Each kid has their own favorite backpack with a Disney character or favorite show on it. They are responsible for putting in that bag what they want for the trip. It works fairly well and helps them to feel that they are a part of the process when packing.
Less is More: Always
With my growing family, it has became obvious that I can't keep packing the "just in case" outfits so much. Last fall I went on my first cruise, and despite lots of research, I took way too much. I don't plan to make that mistake again.
However, one thing I did do right was purchase my absolute FAVORITE bag. The pleated Tote by Vera Bradley.
I didn't like Vera Bradley, when they first came out, but they have really grown on me.
I found this bag online, but wanted to see it first. Unfortunately, it was discontinued and I couldn't find it anywhere. I even went to the Vera Bradley outlet over in Asheville, NC, but to no avail.
Luckily, I did find it on Amazon and decided to order it blind. I am so glad I did. It works as a carry on, fits under the seat, and holds SO MUCH STUFF. Coming back from the cruise, I even packed an entire rolled up vacuum bag of clothes in it because our suitcase was overweight.
I always prefer zipper pockets as it's inevitable I will knock it over spilling all the contents. The side pockets of the pleated tote are great for holding snacks, sunglasses, bottles of water, and whatever else my kids wanna stuff in there.
The newer tote by Vera Bradley is lovely, but they took away the side pockets. Why??
Most of our Disney trips were on property for somewhere between eight or ten days so I had to wash clothes, but I found that since I had to do that anyway, packing for three days with only one warm top and pair of pants along with two days for warmer weather worked well. I read on a blog somewhere about Shout Color Catcher Dye Trapping Sheets and they were so helpful.
Except for that time my son left a crayon in his pocket and EVERYONE'S clothes had green streaks. Thankfully, I googled a fix for that and most of them were saved, but that's another post for another day.
On our 18 day trip to California, I was able to pack for all five of us in our Samsonite checked bag. My husband carried his Columbia backpack which held our cameras and toiletries and I carried my Vera Bradley tote. We washed clothes a lot, but it was nice not lugging four or five suitcases in and out of the ten different hotels in which we stayed.
Always keep toiletries packed
It's always interesting how I can pack for five
people and get all the clothes, but leave behind the little necessities.
I've found the solution to this is two fold. I try to always have what we call the "bathroom bag" packed and ready to go so that I'm not having to wait until we have used those products before leaving. Keeping things like
- cotton swabs
- hair products
- small first aid kits
already in the bag helps me not to worry about those things when I am packing.
I've also discovered that most hotels will give you toothbrushes and tooth paste so I no longer even bother packing those. I currently have this bag I picked up at TJ Max, but it's getting a bit worn so I'm in the market for something new.
I've seen some people use over the door shoe holders, but I'd like something a bit more sturdy. This seems so obvious, but for years I was always scrambling the morning we were leaving waiting until everything was used before I could pack it.
Keep Packing Lists
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. There are some great Disney sites that provide packing lists for Disney. Two of my favorites are WDW Prep School and Unlocking the Magic. I found that I didn't need near as much as these lists provide (see Tip #2), but it never hurts to have a list to jog the memory when you are trying to get it all together.
I know most of these are pretty much common sense, but these days my common sense is in short supply so I'm glad to hear what works for others.