Vacation Ahead: Send Stress Packing

Vacation Ahead: Send Stress Packing

Start the relaxation part of your trip early—with low-key packing and prep tips.

The whole point of a vacation is relaxation, so it’s ironic how many of us find our stress levels ramping up in the days just before we head out of town. Why? In a word, packing. What can you fit in, and what needs to be left behind? What about rules governing the size of carry-ons, the toting of liquids, and the extra costs for bags some airlines levy? Getting smart about packing, says Anne L. Fritz, founder and editor of the travel and adventure site The Jet Set Girls, is the key to leaving on vacation with a carefree mind-set. 

 

Follow a few tips for getting away from it all — including the stress of packing:

  • Start early. No, even earlier. We don’t mean the night before your trip; it’s smart to set out your suitcase and begin packing days ahead of time. That cushion allows you to change your mind and swap out some items for others, and it leaves ample time to squeeze in forgotten items. 
  • Lose the shoes. It’s tempting to stuff in shoes for every outfit, but as footwear is heavy and awkward to pack, try to limit yourself to no more than three pairs for a weeklong trip. (That means women should choose one pair of strappy sandals for evening wear.) Maximize suitcase space by rolling up small items like tank tops and socks and tucking them into shoes. 
  • Choose your hue. Having a loose color scheme and planning on mixing and matching can help you cut down on overpacking. For example, all black (or all beige) pants, shorts, and skirts can be paired with just about any tops. 
  • Don’t bring the bathroom. Check what your hotel already has (such as a hair dryer) and plan to use its shower amenities, which are often luxe products. Take only small-size essentials from home. Tip: find travel sizes of your favorite products at 3floz.com. Some airports even offer kiosks that sell suitable items.
  • Suck it up. If you really can’t edit your stuff any further, or if you’re lucky enough to be headed on an extended trip, consider investing in a Spacepak, which you can use to compress, say, a stack of shirts down to a third of the original size.
  • Get an app. On an IOS system smart phone, try Pack the Bag or Travel List, apps that help you make packing lists and create reminders (so you don’t forget something crucial like medication). On Android phones and devices, try Packing List.
  • Ease night-before anxiety. The last thing you want to worry about the evening before a trip is what you’ll have for dinner—not to mention washing dirty dishes. A Wi-Fi–enabled restaurant like your local Panera Bread® bakery-cafe can net you a quick, delicious meal (you’ll need it before a day of only airline and airport dining options!) and the ability to check flight status and review your packing apps.