While trips and vacations are meant to help you relax and give you a much needed break, the time leading up to that trip can be full of worry and mini (or major) freak outs.
As a mom of three that travels a lot, I totally get it. That's why I decided to put together this list of travel and packing tips designed to keep anxiety at bay and allow you to fully enjoy your vacation!
While the following tips are meant to help you prepare, you need to take a breath and acknowledge the fact that you will forget something, someone will cry because of it and it also won't be the end of the world.
This is my number one tip when asked about traveling. No one has ever come back to me to say that they regret using packing cubes. They are basically magic little dividers that go into your suitcase and allow you to pack and unpack with ease. Roll your clothes when packing, trust me, it'll save you space and wrinkles.
I always have a change of clothes for everyone in our carry on. Enough to get through a couple of days in case the unthinkable happens and our luggage doesn't make it to the destination.
I know your instinct is to bring a million snacks and activities onto the plane to keep everyone occupied and out of the hangry zone, but in reality not everything will be accessible to you. Pack a small kit within your carry-on with the essentials. Something you can keep in the seat pocket in front of you. Bring enough to get you through an hour or so with no tears. I will generally use packing cubes and large plastic baggies to organize my carry-on, but within that I will set aside one cube/baggie that I will pull out once I am settled on the plane.
Our phones and tablets are travel essentials. But they won't do you much good if your battery dies or you can't find your headphones. I have this nifty travel case that allows me to keep our cords organized. You can also try rubber bands to keep your cords tangle free and then place them in a clear plastic baggie to keep them together.
Don't forget to download shows, movies and music to your device before you head out. You'd be surprised how many people forget and end up killing their data while en route. I would have some seriously bored (and subsequently annoying) kids if it weren't for Netflix. We always make sure to download enough movies and shows to get them through the trip.
Nothing will get you a dirty look faster than holding up the line of anxious travelers as you search your bags for your airline tickets or passports. Save yourself some stress and pick up a passport holder for you and your family. I keep all of our passports in there, one inside the next, all open to our picture page. I also keep any other necessary identification cards there, along with a little cash, airline tickets and any other relevant travel documentation. This passport holder always goes into the same spot in my travel bag so I don't have a panic attack about where it went. If you have a hard time remembering which pocket/bag you keep it in, say it out loud or tell a travel buddy.
I know how tempting it can be to bring every article of clothing you own so that you have choices. But the truth is that you won't wear even a fraction of it. How many times did you return from a trip only to realize that the majority of what you packed remained untouched?
Choose items that can mix and match easily and are easy to re-wear. Unless items are obviously soiled, you can wear them a few times between washes. Check out this list from Good Housekeeping.
While we're chatting about what to pack, let's get realistic about shoes. You do not need a million pairs of shoes; you don't even need five pairs. Pack one pair of comfy walking shoes, dressier shoes and weather appropriate shoes (boots, sandals, etc.) Shoes are bulky, so pare it down.
I don't find it particularly useful to make a detailed list of every item I need to pack. What I do find helpful is to make a note of things that I normally wouldn't bring on a trip. For instance I won't write down that I need to pack underwear but I will add pool floatie and goggles as it is not as intuitive for me. I use Anylist as my shopping list already, so I simply make another list for when we travel.
I like to gather things slowly as I think of them so that I'm not scrambling at the last minute. Try putting a bin or laundry basket aside and filling it with items you need to pack leading up to your trip. This way it's all in one place and ready to be packed. There's nothing worse than running around the morning of and looking frantically for your stuff!
I love traveling with drawer organizers. But not for drawers! These magical boxes keep loose items neat and together. They fold down, are super easy to pack but have amazing structure to keep everything in place while you travel.
Happy (organized) travelling!
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
Also on HuffPost: