Topic Tuesday “How to Pack Light For Vacation” Tips & Tricks!

It’s Topic Tuesday and I’m really enjoying this! If you’re not sure what that is, check out the details here….

Today’s topic is from Joanie and it will be “How to pack SOMEWHAT light for Vacation”?!

I’m just forewarning you….this is NOT my best topic and I WILL be taking advice from all of you! I am a definite over-packer and always have WAY too much! I pack too much clothes, too many jackets, a blow dryer even though hotels have them. Diapers that will last a whole month because I don’t ever want to have to buy expensive diapers on vacation. And then, I still end up forgetting something. 😐

I also need your advice on this topic but I will tell you a couple things I’ve learned…

1 – Make a list! Or at least print one online of all the items you need. I like to sit down and figure out how many socks, shorts, shirts, pajamas the kiddos really need. This tremendously cuts down on items. I like the list here.

2- Let this kids have their own backpack with toys, cups, snack containers, etc. This helps because it seems like those take a lot of room and the kids can carry these themselves so you have less to worry about. They won’t want to carry around their clothing but their toys are a whole ‘nother story!

3- I got this idea from Small Notebook. Pack each one of your child’s complete outfits in a ziplock bag and label it by the day they will wear it. Pack one extra as a spare. This is a great idea because it not only keeps you from over-packing, but the suitcase will also stay very organized! – LOVE it and will try it next time.

4- Well, that’s about it….I told you, I am NOT good at this. In fact, when I went on vacation awhile back I had to find a Walmart to buy an extra suitcase to take home some more clothes I bought. 🙄 I should have packed less knowing I was going to need room for my “shopping items”….hey, that could be another tip!

5- Just thought of one more thing…think about it this way, the more bags you have the more likely you are going to have to pay a baggage fee at airlines. Not a good thing for us people who like to save some moola!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your packing/luggage for a family of 4 look like this?! HA! Add a few more bags, purses, tote, another bag and you’d see how mine would look!

Now it’s YOUR turn….what are your tips on packing for a vacation?!


  1. I have shipped items via UPS ground to the hotel I was going to and I have also shipped them home. I’ve also shipped purchases home. Sometimes way cheaper than paying for extra bags and usually it gets there in 3 days so I ship before we leave, call the hotel and let them know to be on the lookout and they will put our packages in our rooms.

  2. I have a trick! (not a packing light tip) If flying, always have extra items in carry-on ( ie change of undies,toothbrushes/toothpaste,deorderant,
    contact lense case/solution,change of clothes) in case you get delayed/flight cancelled @ airprort. I learned this the hard way once and had to sleep over with hubbie/kids no suitcases and had to buy these items (very expensive!). I also always carry little blow -up pillows/sleep masks/and earplugs and of course snacks!!

  3. I learned this trick from my brothers when they were in the military. Roll your clothes. It gives your more room and less wrinkling, if any.

  4. I am an over packer as well!! I am actually packing for a 5 day trip right now.. and with a new baby… im finding myself having to pack all the large items as well.. the pack and play, the stroller, the bouncer… plenty of toys… LOTS of diapers… and LOTS of clothes just because I’m worried about spit up and her getting them dirty… I already don’t have enough room!!! PLEASE HELP! lol…. I am packing as light as I can just so I can accommodate all of the baby items!

    • anngie cunningham says

      Get a travel swing. They are alot smaller than the bouncer! Also a travel pack and play is alot smaller! For the baby, just take a few dressier outfits (they tend to be “frilly” thus larger). For the rest of the days the baby can wear onesies if its warm. But just take a few plus a travel pack of detergent or the purex sheets. Even though its your vacation, you can avoid over packing by hand washing some of babys. Clothes. Wash them in the morning then by afternoon they will be dry!

  5. I’m with Maria, rolling definitely helps!! My husband is in the military and taught me how to do it to look nice and pretty like they learned at basic training! I love doing it to my clothes now when I travel!! It keeps them wrinkle free and takes up minimal room! Plus if looks very organized and easy to go through and find what you want and need! I’m sure you can probably google it and find a video on the best way to roll your clothes!

  6. Oh, and even though I roll my stuff I still overpack! it just looks a little nicer and neater, lol!

    • Raining Hot Coupons says

      LOL!! How is the way he taught you to roll them? They have to know all the awesome tricks. Do you just fold the arms in and then roll??

      • Its kinda hard to explain, you lay the shirt flat, fold the bottom up about 3 inches, then fold the sleeves in, then fold both sides into the middle then roll from the top, then flip the 2 inches you rolled up at the bottom up around the roll to hold it in place…ok, I know that sounds really confusing, so I’m going to find a video, lol!

  7. I hope this one won’t sound weird but I’ve been doing it for years. Save up the socks, underwear, etc. that you want to throw out b/c they are ‘past their prime’ and pack those for a trip. You’ll get one more use out of them before tossing them out and you’ll save a bit of space for the trip home!

    • Raining Hot Coupons says

      LOL – That’s a good one! Never thought of that.

    • This was suggested to me when I went to Spain in high school. I thought is was the dumbest idea ever. Now, I do this all of the time. We have a “throw away” box in everyone’s closets. If we go somewhere that does not have a washer and dryer, we pull down the boxes. It is unbelievable how much room those little items takes up. We have even extended it to t-shirts and jammies for the kids.

  8. I do the rolling clothes thing too, very helpful. As for how to remember stuff I’ll need, I make a list starting at my head and going to my toes asking myself “what do I need to clean it, make it pretty, and put it to bed.” So I start with the top of my head and work my way down, so for my hair, to clean it I need my shampoo & conditioner (If you ever get free sample packets, these are perfect for travel), to make it pretty I need my brush, hair accessories, & curling iron (most hotels have a blow dryer), and put it to bed (if you sleep with anything in your hair, you write it down, I don’t.) And keep going… eyes (contacts and cleaning solution), I remember to include my nose because I have allergies and need to bring my antihistimine, etc. Not everything needs a “put it to bed” line, but I added that after I went on a trip and forgot to pack pj’s and a sweater to sleep in in case it got cold and it DID get cold!

  9. amy winters says

    I too do the sock and undies idea from Michele. I also take clothes that I am willing to donate and leave them in a plastic bag and drop them off at a goodwill or leave at front desk at hotel with a note that says they need cleaned. I also stop at thrift stores on vacation to see what deals they have. Safe travel to all!

  10. Cynthia Guitron says

    I put socks into shoes and also take a lot of the trial/sample products I receive.

  11. NEVER CHECK LUGGAGE!!!! If you are traveling with your family, and you bought 5 tickets for your flight, then you are allowed AT LEAST 5 carry on items, depending on the airline. There is a weight limit per bag, but between 5 bags, you should be able to share the weight.

    There are 5 people in my family and we NEVER check bags. We actually only carry on 2-3 bags (plus everyone is allowed a backpack type carry on for under your seat) and pack empty bags to fill up with souvenirs or dirty clothes to bring home.

    Rolling clothes, going easy on packing shoes, I don’t pack a hair dryer (hotels usually have them), make sure you pack at least a change of underwear and medication in your carry on if you do end up checking luggage. This will hold you over in the event that your checked luggage is lost.

    • dena cassidente says

      how do you deal with the airline rules regarding liquids?

      • If we are going somewhere within the US we buy bigger bottles like sun screen and aloe at a Walmart when we get to our destination. The Airline liquid rule allows for 1 quart size bag of bottles less then 3 ounces. It does not specify the number of 3 oz bottles allowed. So you can pack 1 quart size bag completely full of 3 oz bottles, 1 bag per person. As for bottled water, you can bring on empty bottles and fill them at the drinking fountain once you are past security.

    • If you are traveling with small children (3 kids under 4), it’s a must to have your hands free for the kids, so sadly we have to check bags.

      I also call the hotel ahead of time to check on a blow dryer.

      • I agree, sometimes it is impossible to not check bags. I always try my hardest not to. Especially if we are going state side, there are Targets, Walmarts and Walgreens everywhere. Try traveling international to Europe for 2 weeks with no checked luggage! That was a little hard. 🙂 lol

    • I have my kiddos (ages 5 and 10) carry their own small rolling carry on suitcase plus their backpack with their favorite items and snacks when we travel. I carry my own carry on and stuff my purse in my backpack so that I have the backpack to use for items I buy on my trip. I usually can get away with wearing my jeans twice but have daily undergarments. I always have a spare outfit for the kids. I will def try the bagging of kids outfits. Thanks for all these cool tips.

  12. I put dryer sheets in my suitcases, so everything stays fresh especially if you have packed shoes and clothes in the same area of your bag.

  13. When I travel for work, I always pack “similar” outfits – so I can double up on the use of jewelry and only have one pair of dress shoes. Shoes take up alot of space!

    I’m already making a list for our vacation and I’m considering renting a U-Haul for all of the baby things! I’m going to invest in a smaller stroller b/c I think that takes up the most space. The pack n’ play is even much smaller when it’s folded up!

  14. i couldn’t help smiling to myself about packing tips, before marriage & 4 kids(in less than 4 years) when my husband an i went to europe on vacation for 2 weeks, i had so much luggage that customs asked if we were moving permanently!

  15. Wear your heaviest and biggest shoes (mine are my tennis shoes-sometimes boots) on the plane. It’s a pain at security to take them off, but it saves a ton of room.

    I also save the extra shampoos and other bathroom items from stays, and I make my hubby bring them home from business trips (he always has to drive to those so no problems getting liquids through TSA for him). I take those on short trips. And if I end up with too many, I donate them to a local shelter. They have used them to make little “gift bags” for those staying at the shelter. Also, if you want the shampoo packs that are one use in the foil envelopes, ask your hairdresser for some. They always have samples-you just have to ask.

  16. dena cassidente says

    I need help with this also. I don’t overpack, but I do like my own things and always bring my hairdryer and lots of toiletries and such. I do bring travel bottles but am going to Italy for two weeks and really need to minimize what we bring. Will have to do laundry which I hate to do on vacation.

    • Try to start collecting the free samples of laundry detergent…I’ve gotten several over the last couple weeks or you can go to the travel section at Target to get the single pouchse for cheap or free.

  17. Kathy Anderson says

    I also do the roll up on everything my mom taught me, then I start at the feet and go up to the hair and always write everything I need, depends on where we are going and weather I try to take 2 outfits per day, because we camp and always cooler at night. I do good with the personal stuff it is everything else we need when camping, the tent, blow up mattresses and all the stuff and the food. I always pack that stuff to much.

  18. My husband is a solo musician. last summer we took 3 kids in a Kia Sedona with his music gear (guitar, amp, speakers, saxophone, etc.) AND food to save money & clothes, etc. for 3 weeks of travel around Lake Michigan (from MI to WI, through UP). Anyway, I almost cried when I saw his gear was going to take up most of the room I needed for my neatly-packed bags. So, I had to downsize. Here’s what I did:

    I put our clothes in duffle bags instead of suit cases because they squished easier that way and fit.

    Also, I realized that we never actually wear all the clothes I pack because the kids practically live in swimsuits during the summer. So, I took about half of what I thought I would need and ended up only having to do just a small amount of handwashing in the hotels.

  19. I use those bags that when you roll them they remove the air out of the bags, so you have extra room. Plus I might be bad but I do not bring home dirty underwear and socks. I also will buy some clothes at a thrift store that I also leave behind. The more I leave the more room I have to do some shopping.

  20. Thank you! My daughter and I pack old t-shirts; use them as pj’s and toss them when we leave- same with socks. I use thin 3 ring binders with page protectors for tickets, brochures, important phone numbers/addresses, stamps, iteneraries, maps, etc. It is easy to grab & everything is protected.

  21. mariam mansour says

    You guys, are totaly right, but iv leaned that, while traveling always carry trial size products such as , shamppoo, toothpaste,lotion and so on, light and easy to carry pluse they re not heavy.:))

  22. mix and match clothes. wear em twice (or more) but not the same sets. i always bring less pants/skirts than top in 1:2 or 1:3 ratio. neutral color bottoms.jeans or black always helps minimize the amount, just add jewelry with different top. wear earring but not necklace and vice versa or different hairstyle or even hats could help. vest, bolero, oversize belt or scarf also transform the outfit. dress that could double as skirt (maxi or even mini). for kids just the undershirt or onesies. also neutral bottom.

  23. I too am an overpacker whenever we go somewhere…Will pack almost double what we need, but I’d rather have extra items, then not enough.. LOL…. I too use the rolling of the clothes.. I stuff socks and underwear inside the shoes to save some space. I always take home the little shampoos, soaps, lotions, etc that we get from hotels and then put them in a basket under my sink, so when we pack for the next trip, I can just take the little sizes with me.. keep the bottles because you can refill them when you get back home and use them again. If we go for a long vacation, I also ship clothing and other items that I need ahead of time, and then ship back all my dirty clothes so I can save my suitcases for whatever I may buy or the more heavy stuff and use them as carry on bags. I also put all my shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, all my liquids in plastic zip lock bags so they don’t spill out and ruin my clothes.. it also helps going through the checkpoint to just grab the baggie full of stuff so you don’t have to go digging for all your liquids. I really wish I had some of those bags that you can stuff full, then suck the air out of them…You’d be amazed how thin those things can get and you get tons more room in your suitcases. Had a friend come visit me and she had them and she only had to use one suitcase for a week of vacation. I always buy my drinks and snacks after I pass through security because they are much cheaper than what they charge on the plane.. I just put my pop in my bag and then just get cup of ice (free) on the plane so I can have a cold drink.

  24. On our trips to DisneyWorld, my most helpful tip for packing – particularly the kiddos clothes – is to use the Ziploc baggies. I put one outfit consisting of shorts, underwear, socks, shirt (and the one year I had bought enough clearance sunglasses to include those, too) into an individual Ziploc. I then zip it almost all the way up, suck the air out, and zip it up the rest of the way. I have enough individual baggies of outfits that the kids just grab a baggie in the morning and they’re ready to go. I’m not as worried about packing, as the morning time-saver when we’re at our destination.

  25. johnathans_jiggle says

    I’ve read about someone who packed old clothes that she no longer wanted and when she went on vacation she would take all of them to the local goodwill which made room in her suit case to bring home all her new clothes she bought while traveling!

  26. i also make a list but i do it by event rather than by body. (ex. flight day _ comfy clothes & sleeping that night, beach day and dinner_swim wear &cover ups plus cute outfit for dinner and pjs for sleep.)
    i also try to keep one neutral for all accessories (ex. BLACK_ jewelry , belt, one pair of great heels, flip flops, purse, jacket and i wear tennis shoes on the plane to save room and coordinate all outfits to match that neutral) it saves a ton of space. also after i used the contents of an old sample i fill it with my everyday products so i always have them. 🙂
    the day before: i get ready and see which products i use and set them aside in the shower or sink to remember what to bring in sample size. oh and foaming facewash wipes are great because they are dry and compact. i got mine from avon.

  27. Thanks for this post…great ideas! I always make detailed check off lists for packing…but that’s about as organized as I get 🙂

  28. As a kid my mom always had very detailed check lists for every vacation we went on. It might take a few minutes to compile it on a spread sheet but once it’s done you can just print it out each time you go on a trip “camping” or “beach” or “flight”. She had EVERYTHING you could think of that you would possibly need. Then when you travel just print it out cross off what you dont need, check off what you do need and update it if you think of new things you find helpful. A good way to get started is just to Google “beach vacation check list” or “camping check list”. of course you will probably have to modify it but it’s a great start!!

  29. Alyce Avary says

    I pack my shampoo and body wash into a plastic bag (like from Wal-Mart) and tie the bag up….that way if ti leaks it won’t get all over everything (poor Ross from Friends). I also saw a tip on Facebook to take one of those daily pill containers (Dollar Tree has them) and put your jewelry in each compartment to prevent tangling. i also roll my clothes and take an extra outfit. I also pack everything the night before leaving. My mom keeps a tote bag to put “last-minute” things in.

  30. Put that extra bag with one day’s outfit in the carry-on. That way if your child spills something on their clothes, or the luggage gets lost, you have at least a full outfit.

  31. I use space saver bags for big items like beach towels and linens, since most rental houses don’t provide that kind of thing. It shrinks everything down flat and I can fit more into my trunk, which is like a real world version of Tetris.

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