Today I decided to talk about packing for a trip. Trips are fun, right, but packing, not so much. Since we just returned a while ago from a three-week road trip in a car (after spending eleven years traveling fulltime by motorhome), the memory of packing and “living out of a suitcase” is still fresh.

Dear Husband does not like to lug a lot of items into and back out of rooms every stop, so I tried to think of a way to make it easier on him. It’s not so bad when you stay in a motel/hotel room for several days, but when you have to take a lot of things out of the car, into the motel, and back into the car the very next morning, hauling a bunch of stuff is a pain, especially if you have an inside room, have to use an elevator, and so forth.

Two things stand out in my mind: less is more, and Ziploc bags are your friends.

What we did was have two suitcases, one medium, one large; and two laundry bags, one large, one small (actually a medium-size tote). The large suitcase held extra underwear, hangers as they were used (we hung up our clothes on a rod across the back of the car), and other miscellaneous stuff (shoes, for example) that we didn’t need every night. Once in awhile we would re-stock our smaller suitcase from the large one. And instead of lugging the large laundry bag in and out as it got heavier and heavier, we simply used the tote and transferred the dirty clothes into the large bag every time we headed out again.

So, these are the things we ended up carrying into a room each time:

  • One medium-sized suitcase with laundry tote inside.
  • One very small cooler (holds six cans, and we stocked it every morning with ice and drinks for the road from a stash in the back of the car).
  • Hanging clothes, as needed.
  • My purse and a tiny tote with miscellaneous things like peanut-butter cracker packs, a visor, brochures, etc.
  • Two laptop computers, one in a large briefcase-type carrier where everything with a cord or that was electronic lived (chargers, for example). Reading material and my Kindle also fit in the case.
  • Another tote with all my hair care items—dryer, curler, wire brush, products (in Ziploc bags).

One place we stayed for just over a week. For that, we lugged up the big suitcase, too, a lot more hanging clothes, and a bed reading pillow for me.

If we were flying, clothes would have to be packed instead of hung on the rod, of course, and the stuff in the hair care tote, too. But we had plenty of room left in the larger suitcase to do that. We wouldn’t be taking the reading pillow or the cooler.

We each had a special carrier for personal items that could be zipped up and placed in the small suitcase. Ziploc bags were used to hold miscellaneous items—for example, extra washcloths, anything that might leak like shampoo, body wash, etc. Easy to see what’s inside and extra insurance against leaks.

And that was it. What more did we need? Nothing. We didn’t have to buy anything while gone. I, of course, worked from a list that’s been refined over the years and is kept on my laptop to print out each time.  The list includes everything we need to do before we shut up the house—turn off the water, unplug appliances, turn off the fountain in the back yard, and so on.

I still don’t like to pack, but at least having a system is reassuring and a lot quicker than just doing it on the fly. Anyone have some other good tricks for packing for a trip? Please share.