How to Prepare and Pack for a Vacation

For beginners or novice vacationers, preparing for a vacation can be a tedious and even daunting task.  While vacation evokes images of sandy beaches, rich food, and fun, the prospect of planning and packing can cause many people to succumb to serious feelings of anxiety.  If you can stay calm and get organized you can avoid the anxiety and focus on the fun.

The best way to start your vacation of right is to get organized, Make a list, prioritize, start early and stick to a schedule. Make packing for your vacation easy by taking into account several factors:

  • The mode of transportation – If you are taking a flight, train or any other form of mass transport you will want to pack as lightly and tightly as possible. The less luggage you have to drag along with you, the less aggravated and stressed you will be during the parts of your vacation where it necessary to lug your luggage.  Do not neglect to bring the things you need, but make sure not to bring a lot of unnecessary things.
  • Your destination – If your origination climate is different than that of your destination remember to pack for the climate you are traveling to and to pack an item or two for your return. Your destination will also determine if you will need to pack documents like your passport or proof of inoculations.
  • Your travel companions – Who you will be vacationing with will cause you to consider more than just your own toiletries and underwear. If you are packing for your busy spouse, or loved one or your children and/or pets you will do well to take even more time organizing before getting started. Make a list of needs for each member of your travel group and secure it in a three ring binder with sections for each family member.  If you have the budget and the know-how you could use your netbook or pda to help you keep all this information together.  Consider an addition section for common or group items like food/snacks, drinks, movies, music, etc.

Activities When You Get There

Another factor in how to pack for a vacation is the activities you have planned in your itinerary. Hiking, sunbathing/swimming, skiing, etc all require specific items that you would need to pack.

A Place To Lay Your Head

Last but not least are your lodgings. Depending on the accommodations vacation rentals may or may not offer many of the everyday items that you will need. For example if you are vacationing at a time share on the coast, you may need to pack your own bedding, towels, blankets, toiletries and any cleaning supplies you may need.  Most of your national/chain hotels usually offer toiletry items like shampoo and soap and many offer options from hair dryers to irons, and coffee makers to microwaves, etc.  Unless you have sensitive skin or special toiletry items you wish to bring along with you on your trip, these items do not need to be on your list and you are able to pack light.

The Easy Way

All inclusive resort vacations or cruises are usually the preferred choice for people who do not like to pack and prefer to let take it as easy as possible. All inclusive vacations are just that…. all inclusive. They provide almost anything you could want, and typically all you need to pack is your attire. Be sure to pack different attire for those “special” nights out or for lounging around.  A useful website that I use for all of my planning resources is There you can create your own “to do” list or vacation packing checklist etc).

The Suitcase Itself

When packing your clothes, the most effective way to pack them is termed “Military Style” folding or you may find the new trendy space bags easier. Always pack an extra set of under garments and socks…better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.  Packing a plastic bag/garbage bag or laundry bag is useful as well, so that you can keep your clean/dry clothes separate from you dirty/wet clothes. If you are using public modes of transportation or taking a cruise, remember to keep all precious items (jewelry, cash, documents, identity cards, laptops, cell phones, etc) with you at all times or ask about safes or other secured locations on the premises.

Many vacation destinations or resorts/cruise lines have specific items you will need while vacationing. Check with them on their website before you pack. Research your vacation destination and prepare an itinerary. By doing this you will have all the details what you will need to pack. Make use of the internet. There are extensive travel sources and unless your destination is VERY obscure it is likely to have its website.  Sounds to me like you are ready for your vacation. You should be organized, packed and ready to relax.

A few reminders of things you may want to consider packing…

  1. Emergency or first aid kit, medications, sunscreen
  2. Toothpaste, tooth brush,
  3. Hair brush,
  4. Shampoo/conditioner, (for females: hair product, flat or curling iron)
  5. Shaving razor,
  6. Bathing soap bar or liquid bath soap (for men: shave cream/gel)
  7. Documentation such as: itinerary, passport, airline tickets and/or cruise tickets, lodging/reservations confirmations, photo identity card(s), cashiers checks (secured emergency funds/options such as prepaid gift cards, secured credit cards,
  8. Extra undergarments/sanitary napkins
  9. Waterproof bag or poncho

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