Summertime plans almost always include vacations, and vacations almost always include a suitcase or two. Sometimes, packing for you and your family can be overwhelming and cause stress even before the vacation begins. Michele MacDonald, Corporate Luggage Coordinator for Gottschalks, has tips to streamline packing your suitcase and make your trip a success.
Being Organized and Saving Space:
MacDonald says that a lot of people think a bigger suitcase is the better choice. However, with a big suitcase, the items can shift and get wrinkled. The tighter you pack, the less wrinkles you will have. "Sometimes, it's better to pack the smallest suitcase you can get away with," she says.
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One space saving tip is to pack your suitcase the night before you leave. Overnight, the contents settle, and the next morning you will have more room to add a few extra items. MacDonald also recommends using compression bags to save even more space. Many people think you need access to a vacuum to use these space savers, but you can buy specialty bags with a built-in valve that will suck the air out to condense your clothes. "It can reduce your clothing space by 75%," she says.
Most times, you will not need to pack a blow dryer, because many hotels have them installed in their bathroom. Call ahead to your destination to check on availability, and maybe you won't have to add this personal item to your list.
MacDonald suggests your travel wardrobe should consist of two colors, preferably black and khaki, and then compliment with one accent color like pink or yellow. "This will ensure that your clothes go together, and it will also limit your need to take multiple pairs of shoes," she says.
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Tissue paper and plastic dry cleaning bags can protect special clothing when packing. If you have a top with sequins, you can turn your shirt inside out and place tissue paper inside to keep the beads from rubbing together, according to MacDonald.
With children's clothes, MacDonald packs her two daughters' daily outfits in plastic, zip-top bags. "My kids would pull out everything from the entire suitcase to find one item buried in the bottom, so this way, I can just throw them a bag and they have everything they need to get ready," she says.
Interlocking Packing Method:
One of the most organized ways to pack is called the interlocking packing method. This technique gives you more space and more convenience. MacDonald explains the system as a combination of folding and rolling. You create a base with your pants, shorts, and skirts by laying them centered in the suitcase alternating waistbands with the excess material draped over the sides of the bag. You roll up your T-shirts and place them in a row on top of the pants. You put your plastic-covered blouses or specialty items on top of the "roll bar" and fold up the excess material on both sides. This creates a bundle that you can pick up as one piece.
Always put your shoes inside plastic baggies to avoid getting their sole's dirt and grime on other packed items. You can also use the shower cap from your hotel room to cover your shoes. One way to save space is to put your children's shoes inside bigger, adult shoes, says MacDonald.
With shoes, always pack them on the bottom and at the opposite end of the suitcase's handle. If the shoes' weight falls at the bottom, it will make the suitcase easier to pull without putting added strain on your shoulder, she says.
Unmentionables & Swim Suits:
Clear, plastic baggies help organize your luggage, especially for personal items like your underwear, bras, socks, and swimsuits. The plastic protects your bra hooks from snagging other clothes in your suitcase. When packing bras, put the cups together and stuff with socks – this helps the bra keep its shape and saves you space.
For swimsuits, the sealable bag comes in handy when you need to store a wet suit after it's been used. Also, if security personnel have to check your luggage's contents, the plastic provides a barrier to keep strangers from handling your undergarments, says MacDonald.
Toiletries & Jewelry:
MacDonald says the best way to pack toiletries is in an all-enclosed, waterproof, hanging toiletry kit. Hanging up the bag gives you much needed counter space in your hotel room. Also, the waterproof compartments help keep accidental leaks contained. For items that you think might spill, place those inside a zip-top, plastic baggie as an extra level of defense. Instead of packing perfume that can permeate your entire suitcase and contents if broken, take perfume-scented body lotion.
Jewelry kits for travel come in all shapes and sizes – small boxes, bags with drawstring tops, roll-up versions, and even a plastic baggie can suffice. In order to keep your necklaces from getting tangled, MacDonald suggests using a drinking straw to string the chain through and then you can put these filled straws into a toothbrush holder. When checking your bags at an airport, MacDonald says if the jewelry "is near and dear to you, place it in your carry-on luggage."
For more packing tips, visit the luggage department of any local Gottschalks stores.