Resourceful Travel: Tips for Packing

When I became a blogger, I never dreamed that I would be travelling so much. Between conferences, speaking engagements, trade shows, and client meetings, I fly the friendly skies about once every six weeks. I have also come to love traveling with my kids, and although packing for one and packing for four is wildly different, there are many shared tips that are helpful for anyone travelling, whether for business or pleasure.

1. Pack Outfits, Not Separates – This may sound like a no-brainer, but many people stray from this rule. Not only should you pick out and pack specific outfits, but your extra items should come in outfit form as well. Packing three days of kid outfits plus two back-up outfits takes up much less space than tossing five or six bottoms and six or seven random tops into a bag. It’s also easier to choose clothing in the morning and get out the door each day if you already know what top was packed to go with what bottom.
2. Plan for What You’re Doing, Not What “Might” Happen – While I mentioned extra outfits, I didn’t say you should pack two outfits for every occasion. It is always good to be prepared for the unknown, especially with kids, but unless you’re going to be camping on a remote island in the Pacific, you will have access at the very least to a sink and a hair dryer should you find yourself in a clothing emergency. Many hotels also have laundry service available should you find that you under-packed.
3. Don’t Forget the Resealable Bags! – There is not enough time in the day for me to list all of the uses for resealable bags. We most often use them to bring home wet or damp clothing, to pack snacks for the kids, and to save leftover food from meals so that the kids can easily finish their fries/grapes/apple slices as we continue on our day.
4. Don’t Forget to Use Resealable Bags! – Not only should you pack some bags in various sizes for use during your trip, but keeping toiletries that might leak in a bag is a cheap and easy way to protect the items in your suitcase. Even if you are careful to pack a nice, tight suitcase that should theoretically protect your shampoo bottles, don’t forget that the TSA searches bags randomly and may accidentally open those items. I learned this lesson the hard way in my pre-resourceful days…
5. Roll Your Clothing – When I was seventeen I travelled with a large group of high school musicians to Europe for three weeks. We were allowed one suitcase. One. It was then that I learned to roll my clothing. Not only does it seriously take up less space (truly!), but it also keeps clothes from wrinkling. For the record, this is also when I learned to love red wine and Toblerone, neither of which packs well.
6. Protect Breakables with a Shoebox – If you’re planning on packing cereal, crunchy snacks, or any valuables that might break, grab a sturdy shoebox from your closet or crafting area and pack the breakables inside the box. Place the box in the middle of the suitcase and pack around it. If you’ve got children, save their shoe boxes so that you have various sizes to choose from.
7. Be Prepared to Return with More – While some folks I know pack a smaller suitcase inside a larger and then return with two suitcases rather than one, I prefer to pack a large tote that lies flat at the bottom of my suitcase. After all, when I travel I’m likely to return with a few trinkets and scrapbooking items, not a whole new wardrobe.
8. Designate a Dirty Bag – Travelling with more than one suitcase? When you arrive to your destination, unpack your clothing into the dressers and closet provided. Then designate one suitcase to be your family’s dirty clothing bag, placing it at the bottom of the closet to be out of the way. If you simply stand the suitcase upright and unzip just across the top, you’ve got an impromptu hamper! This also makes for easier unpacking as you can take that suitcase directly to the laundry area.

Leave a Reply


  • @Colorado_Mom

    Great tips as we are packing all 5 of us tomorrow! 🙂

  • Michelle @ Flying Giggles

    I am a huge fan of rolling the clothes as well. It really saves a lot of space and the least amount of suitcases needed, the better. Although, I tend to over pack when the kids go along. Usually, if it is just the hubs and myself, I pack just enough.

  • Denise

    My favorite thing for on the airplane is activity packs. I use the clear zip bags curtains come in to put all things the kids will play with durning the flight. They get color books, pens, stickers, notepad, cars, small stuff animal, whatever fits. They each get one and they help pick out what they want and I put in a few surprises too. Since they zip close you can pack them in any carry on bag and do not have to search for where the activities are.

  • Painter Mommy

    Great post. I am traveling to California in a few weeks for my brother's wedding and I am definitely going to utilize some of these things that you mentioned.

    DAWN 🙂

  • Nancy

    I am a big fan of organized packing, and have been using several of these tips for a while. But I absolutely love the "dirty clothes" suitcase: that is brilliant…and one that I will definitely be using on our beach trip next month!

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  • Love it….great post.

    My grandma taught me to roll clothes when packing and I at first didn’t believe her. Oh, I’m a believer now! 🙂

  • I travel with a few recycled shopping bags. These bags are perfect for storing shoes. I find that plastic bags are useless as the shoes often don’t fit well. The bags often tear. The recycled shopping bags hold the shoes in place, plus keep dirt away from clothes.

    On a recent trip to a conference, I packed a 4-pack of energy drinks in a recycled shopping bag in a suitcase I checked. I wedged the bag with a sweatshirt. The drinks arrived safe and sound.