Packing for Your Vacation

Dreaming and preparing for your vacation is fun, but packing can also add a little stress. What should I bring? Will I forget something? What if something gets wrinkled or ruined? What if my luggage is lost? Here are a few tips from AAA to help you pack your suitcase and enjoy your vacation!

Evaluate your luggage

Before you start packing, get your suitcases out of storage and inspect them carefully for damage that may have occurred on your last trip. (If you’re in need of new luggage, AAA members can save on luggage at your local AAA store.)

Clearly label your luggage

Many luggage brands look similar, especially the soft-sided variety, so mark your luggage clearly with a distinctive stripe, special strap, big red dot, your initials in large letters – whatever helps to identify it quickly. Remove old destination tags, and then attach your name and address to a prominent place on your luggage. The outside tag should only show your name – print your address on the reverse (concealed) side.

Tape your name and address inside your luggage

Be sure to include “USA” with your address. Include a phone number, with area code, that can be reached at home, and label what the number is (your office phone, for example). Do not use your home phone number, unless someone will be there to answer it. Put the phone number of a friend inside, too.

Prepare for the weather

Check temperature listings for the cities you’ll be visiting just before you depart. You can find weather information in your on the Web at www.weather.com. It’s always a good idea to wear “layers.” That way, clothes can be removed or added according to the climate.

Organize by packing your “typical day”

Make a checklist if you have difficulty deciding what necessities to bring. Start with your typical morning routine: medication, preferred items for hygiene, and the steps in getting dressed. Then follow through with everything you will need through bedtime.

Use every inch of luggage space

Insert socks and small items into your shoes. Roll up sweaters and undergarments on the bottom and sides of your luggage, followed by layers of clothing that wrinkle more easily.

Coordinate your wardrobe

Focus on a single color or coordinating colors, to get more mileage from fewer items of clothing. Separates work best because they can easily be mixed and matched. A few scarves and small accessories can work wonders. Save space by minimizing the number of pairs of shoes you’ll need to bring with your outfits.

Prepare for the possibility of lost luggage

Pack some of your travelling companion’s clothes in your bag, and vice versa. This is a great idea, because both of you will have clothes if one bag is lost along the way. As a precaution, also pack a change of clothing in your carry-on bag.

Minimize wrinkling

Pack items with the buttons buttoned, fold clothes as little as possible, and fold items as close to the waist and seams as you can. Plastic dry cleaner’s or laundry bags between layers minimize wrinkling – just keep each layer flat and even. On a cruise, unpack as soon as possible after you arrive aboard ship. Instead of bringing a bulky travel iron, try hanging your clothes in the bathroom when taking a shower. Often, the humidity is enough to de-wrinkle them.

Pack few toiletry items

Bring only sample sizes of toiletry items. Or you can transfer toiletries into small containers to pack in your checked luggage. Plastic containers work best, but don’t fill them to the top – airplane pressure may cause them to leak. Seal containers with tape, and pack a roll of tape to reseal them at the end of your trip. Pack liquid and cream containers in plastic bags and keep them in your checked luggage. For more information regarding personal care items in carry-on luggage, consult the Transportation Security Administration’s website.

Don’t pack anything valuable, fragile or perishable

Always carry money, valuables, jewelry, important travel documents, and prescription drugs with you, and never in your checked luggage. Leave expensive and sentimental items at home or in safe storage.

Make an inventory checklist

Making a list (and checking it twice) is a good way to make sure you don’t forget anything important. We’ve included a list here to get you started. Add or delete per your travel needs.

Packing List Starter

  • Earplugs
  • Medical supplies and documents (keep these with you so you have them even if luggage is delayed)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Rubber bands or hair elastics
  • Foreign currency – just enough for initial expenses, until you have a chance to change more money
  • Language dictionary and phrase book
  • Adapter for electrical items if needed
  • Small sightseeing book for quick reference
  • Fold-up umbrella and lightweight raincoat
  • Sunglasses
  • Small flashlight
  • Insect repellent, sunscreen lotion
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Tissues
  • Sewing kit
  • Small container of laundry soap for hand washables