Traveling with my family is one of my absolute favorite things to do. We all leave the craziness of our regular lives and spend quality time together in new surroundings. Love it.
A necessary but important part of that is packing.
Let’s just say that I love that…less.
I get that we can’t go on our cool trips without packing for them. I do. But with 4 busy people moving in multiple directions at the same time, it is often a challenge to make sure everyone has packed everything they are supposed to for a given trip.
We all know that different types of trips require different packing. A wintry ski vacation demands different clothes and gear than a sunny beach vacation. And when you travel places that require many different wardrobe changes, packing gets that much more complex.
One of the ways we reduce the stress is by keeping a master packing list on our computer. Aside for all of the usuals that accompany us on most every trip (e.g., passports, phone chargers, etc.), we have sections that identify gear we’ll want depending on whether the trip is warm/cold, casual/fancy, active/passive, etc. There aren’t even clothes on our master list since that would need to be catered to every different location.
Another thing we do that adds a level complexity to our packing is that we don’t each just pack our own suitcase. We spread some of everyone’s clothes into everyone else’s suitcase. So just in case one of our bags gets lost in transit (and we HAVE had luggage lost on trips before), you only lose half your underwear rather than all of it. Our practice of doing this is helpful in those situations but it also has a downside.
Whenever we get to where we are traveling, inevitably one of my family members asks “Where are my pajamas/sneakers/make up bag, etc.?” And my answer is always the same – “I haven’t a clue.” Whenever we arrive where we’re going, we always spend 30 minutes or so emptying out our suitcases and giving other family members the clothes and items we transported for them. Then we each repack our own bags with our own clothes and can find whatever we want/need for the rest of the trip. Once everyone has their own clothes/gear in their own suitcases at our destination, my stress level goes down considerably.
I will note that while our practice of mixing up our clothes in each other’s suitcases is helpful if only one bag gets lost, it doesn’t do anything for us when ALL of our bags are lost. That happened to us in Panama a few years ago. After our flight from NY got canceled and we got rebooked to fly out the next morning, we arrived in Panama to connect with our tour but none of our bags could be located. To make matters worse, our tour was taking us into the rainforest the next day, far away from any malls or stores and we had only the clothes on our backs. We ran to a nearby mall in Panama City and bought everyone a pair of sneakers, a package of underwear and some t-shirts. Luckily, we got reimbursed for these purchases by the airline and our bags were eventually found (and caught up to us in the rainforest) two days later.
Fortunately, that type of thing hasn’t happened to us that often and we’ve all taken to packing at least one set of clothes in our carry-on bags to help in those situations in the future.
Despite the challenges of packing and dealing with luggage issues, I wouldn’t give up traveling for anything. So while it’s not an aspect of traveling that I can say I’ll ever enjoy, packing will always just be the necessary evil we’ll have to put up with to get where we want to go.
Thanks for reading.