If you’re anything like me, you probably wait until 1AM the morning you leave before you even consider packing for a trip. Though I do procrastinate the act of packing, I usually plan what outfits (and snacks) I want to bring days in advance. When packing, I try to keep a few things in mind. I hope my basic packing plan can help you as you feel more prepared for your adventures in packing at the last minute.
If you’re a normal human being, you’ll probably need at least one outfit per day of your trip. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want seven outfits (because you need choices ok, that’s why). The duration of your trip can give you a basic guideline for how many outfits you’ll need. Along with the duration of your trip you should consider how you’ll be getting there. Are you driving, flying, taking a train, or boat? This tells you how you should dress on the way there and what kind of luggage you should bring. Our vacations are usually long weekends to places we can drive. This lets me know I’ll need a comfortable outfit for each day of travel, and, at the very least, an outfit for each day of our trip. It also means I can pack as many suitcases as I’d like. This isn’t true when traveling via plane. With this in mind, you know if you should take a suitcase or duffle bag. So now you know that you should have an outfit for each day of your trip stuffed into the appropriate bag, but how do you decide what kind of outfit you should pack?
I find it impossible to choose outfits if I have no clue what I’ll be doing while wearing them. Flashback to my time at HOBY, an amazing leadership seminar. It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, outside of the fact that I packed my entire wardrobe to go because I had no idea what to prepare for. Would I be sitting in air conditioning all day, or would I be out spreading mulch as part of my service project? It’s crucial to think about what you’ll be doing on your trip in order to plan outfits. Think about each nuance to your activity. For example, on vacation, we usually go to more expensive, fancy restaurants. Not only does this mean I should pack a dress and heels, but also a sweater because the restaurant will likely be cold. Knowing what you’re doing tells you how you should dress.
Not only will your itinerary tell you what to pack, but also how much you should pack. At the beach, we usually take a long walk to a light house. I know I’ll be drenched in sweat afterwards, so I must bring two outfits for the day we trek across the beach, one for the walk, and one to change into so I’m not sweaty the rest of the day. Keep in mind your choice of shoes too! You want to look cute, but choose comfort over appearance. All in all, knowing your plans is your best bet for being prepared.
It seems obvious doesn’t it? Sadly, many times I fail to consider the weather of my destination. I will be the first to admit that, yes, sometimes I think I’m checking the weather of Cape May Beach, when I’m really checking the weather South Western Pennsylvania (who knew it was always cloudy and rainy at the beach?). The weather will tell you if your outfits are feasible. Is it wise to wear that Oxford and sweater in 90 degree heat? Probably not. Will you shiver to death in that linen dress because you failed to bring a sweater to this tundra of a restaurant? Probably. It’s crucial to have a wide array of outfits in mind, and then let the weather be the deciding factor for what you should wear. With that in mind, the weather changes on a dime so be sure to pack some layers and pieces you can mix and match on the very unlikely, but definite probability that the forecast is wrong.
So it’s 20 minutes until you leave and you have all your clothes and shoes out, with the right type of bag ready. First, I recommend setting aside the outfit you plan on traveling in. I like to fold each of my outfits and lay them together on my bed. This means shoes, socks (if necessary), shorts, shirt, and any accessories. I prefer to keep all of my stuff organized by the day I’ll be wearing it. Keeping all the clothing items you’ll be wearing on Day 1 together keeps you from forgetting things. Once each day is organized in this manner, I open my suitcase and begin by putting in my shoes. You’ll avoid dirtying your clothes if you do this first. On top of my shoes for Day 1, I put all of my outfits I’ll be wearing on the first day. I prefer putting the first outfit I’ll wear on top and last outfit on the bottom to avoid digging around. I continue this process with each day, setting all accessories aside to be put in my jewelry roll. Finally, I pack my toiletries.
I hope this helps you in your packing future! Do your best to start ahead of time, but if you procrastinate, know you’re not alone.