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Imperfect Perfectionist: Packing Tips

posted Feb 15, 2011, 7:52 AM by Kristin Mastromarino Vander Wiede
Wendy, packing for yourself is a daunting enough task.  Add in an additional four kids and I can understand the stress levels increasing before and after the trip!   Packing can be a difficult task with so many details to remember and the many unknowns about where you are going.  Women tend to have an even more difficult time with this process because of the variety of clothing, shoes and jewelry they typically have to bring.  Men have it much easier!

If you are always heading on overnight trips, weekend getaways or long vacations one of the first things that I suggest is keeping a toiletry bag pre-packed for each family member to just grab and go.  By this I mean have double of everything you use everyday, but in smaller quantities.  For instance, by a second razor so you don’t always have to remember to grab it in the shower every time you leave.  Keep an extra contact case, another set of your favorite make-up colors or a second hair brush.  Use plastic travel bottles to create smaller versions of your favorite soaps, shampoo and body lotions pre-packed in a clear bag for airline security. Having a pre-packed toiletry bag is going to save you a lot of time and energy every time you travel because all the smallest details of packing will be taken care of right off the bat.

The second thing that I suggest is making a packing list.  There are pre-made packing list pads that you can buy that have all of the basics accounted for.  Every time you go on a trip you can pull out the pad and go down the checklist without much thought.  You can also make your own by breaking down the days you will be on the trip, what activities you will be doing and how many outfits you will need each day.  This will help you realistically look at how much you will need and start your mind thinking in outfits.

When packing it is also important not to just put all of your favorite clothes in a pile and toss it in the bag.  If you do this you will bring a lone shirt with no pants to match too many or too few clothes or shoes that don’t match a single item in your bag.  Pack smart outfits by picking neutral pants or shorts that could be worn twice with different matching tops or shoes and accessories that will coordinate with several pieces.  Lay each outfit on the bed as you piece items together so you can visually see what else you would need to go with the overall outfit.

It is always important to know the activities you will participate in and the weather while you are on the trip to ensure you have the right clothing packed.  If you know you will be going to the beach be sure to ask yourself will I need a towel as well as a bathing suit?  Will I need an extra outfit each day because it is going to be 90 degrees and I will want clean clothes for the evening after sightseeing all day?  Will you work out while you are there?  This process will help you troubleshoot what you might be forgetting.

Now that you have gone through this process once, write a list on your computer of what you brought for the trip and save it.  Use it as a guide the next time you go on a trip to create a quick checklist.  Edit out the items that were not useful on the last vacation or that you learned were not needed.  And if all else fails you can typically purchase what you might have forgotten, so don’t stress out too much trying to remember it all!  

Kristin Mastromarino is a professional organizer at Livable Solutions, LLC (, owner of The Organized Lifestyle retail store (  You can email her your questions at