Jul 052011
We’ve covered the planning, the shower, the gifts, the ceremony and the reception.  Now that all the work is done, it’s time for play – the honeymoon!

This might sound a little crazy, but I actually enjoy packing.  And I think I’m pretty good at it.  When I packed my car for the first time to drive to college (from Maine to Florida) my Dad was helping me pack.  At one point he said “Okay, that’s it, you can’t fit anything else”.  Which wasn’t going to work at all since I still had stuff I wanted to take.  I just laughed and repacked the car.  Not only did I fit all the original stuff plus all the extra stuff, there was still extra room and the view out the back window from the rearview mirror was completely unobstructed.

I can’t come pack for you all, but I can share some packing tips:
  • Do your laundry a few days early.  Wash (or have dry cleaned) everything you’re even considering packing, even if you’re not sure.  Better to have it done and available to choose from rather than decide you want it and have to scramble to get it cleaned at the last minute.
  • Once everything is clean, make a list.  Think about the weather of the area you’re heading (check their tourism website if you’re not 100% sure.  Most will list average temps and rainfall by month).  Also think about your plans once you get there.  Will you be hiking or sitting on the beach?  Do you need any dressy clothes for a nice dinner one night?  You might like this nice free travel packing checklist from Frommer’s.
  • Start packing things away in your suitcase at least a week in advance (heavy on bottom, lighter on top).  You don’t want to be rushed and forget something!  Also designate one sheet of notebook paper (or the checklist from Frommer’s above) to each suitcase or bag and write each item as you place it inside.  Not only will you appreciate having this list if your bags get lost (yikes!) but it also saves you having to dig through every bag looking for that pair of shorts “I just know I put in here”.
  • Roll instead of fold.  Clothes that wrinkle easily especially benefit from this packing space-saver.  Roll tightly and pack tightly to keep them as wrinkle-free as possible.
  • Stuff socks and other small garments into shoes to help them hold their shape.  I also like to stuff a couple of zip-top plastic bags in them to toss dirty shoes in on the trip home.  Who wants sand all through their suitcase?
  • As much as we all love new clothes and shoes and it’s always fun to take something new and pretty on vacation, don’t do it, especially with shoes.  You don’t want to be breaking in a pair of new shoes as you walk around Disney World or up and down the streets shopping in the Bahamas.
  • Think your bag is full?  Close it and tap it on the ground a few times to help things settle and you’ll free up some space.  Just don’t pack so tightly the seams or zipper are straining.  If the zipper busts while being transported you could find yourself being delivered an empty suitcase.
  • Pack an empty bag as an extra to bring home any souvenirs you pick up on the trip.
  • All of your valuables, one set of clothes, toiletries allowed by the TSA, some snacks and entertainment (Suduko, iPad, Nook, etc.) should go in your carry-on in case your bags get delayed.
  • Unpack as soon as you arrive.  Not the most fun part of your trip but it will help you feel more settled and also helps keep clothes from wrinkling.
Here are some additional packing tips for checked bags from the TSA to reduce the chance of an issue with your bags:
  • Pack shoes and other footwear on top of everything else.
  • Avoid packing food and drink items in your checked bags.
  • Don’t stack papers or books on top of each other; spread them out.  From my experience this is also true for carry on bags.  Once I had a few extra notepads, folders and books in my briefcase from a seminar I had attended and I was pulled out of line for additional screening.  The person who did my screening said it was because of the stacked papers.  I had no idea that was even a red flag of any kind but now I spread it out as much as possible.
  • Place a personal identification tag inside your bag along with the ones you have on the outside.  If the outside tag gets damaged or lost during transit at least the airline will still be able to identify it when they open it.