How to Pack Like a Pro for Vacation Travel
After a cool and record-breaking wet and rainy spring along much of the East Coast, summer is finally here! No matter where you live though, packing for travel any time of the year can be a hassle unless you know how to pack like a pro.
I love summer! Lazy summer days stir up delightful memories of the salty smell of warm ocean air, the joy of discovering a perfect seashell found on an early morning beach walk, and the pleasure of slowly rousing from sleep without the use of an alarm.
There is so much to love about summer and the travel opportunities that come with school and work vacation time. But even though summers are typically more relaxed than other seasons, I still apply some simple packing tips for a more stress-free travel experience that helps my family spend less time packing and more time making unforgettable memories.
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Packing Tips for Summer Travel
Summer might be the easiest season to pack for, especially if relaxed beach or pool days, sunny warm weather and flip-flops are part of your everyday summer routine. Without some planning though, the little things can easily add up and turn summer packing into a chore filled with a lot of stress which often results in packing unnecessary items.
With many decades of vacation packing under my belt, these tried and true summer packing tips should help reduce frustration so everyone in your family can focus on enjoying the special moments that traveling during the summer months brings.
Go ahead and roll up your sleeves and use these tips to pack like a total boss for your next trip!
Carry Essentials in a Separate Bag
I learned this trick when I traveled to Tanzania one summer not too long ago where my Kilimanjaro gear list seemed endless. Pack one bag that contains all of your must-have and frequently used items. This way, if someone needs a specific frequently used item, there’s no digging through dozens of bags to find what’s needed.
Some items you’ll want to pack in the separate bag include charging cables, electronics, small toys to keep the kids entertained, a small supply of needed medications, and even some nutritious snacks.
I used to be considered a travel pack rat because my bags were always stuffed full and overweight. No more! Now I pack lightly and have even learned how to pack fewer and fewer items with each trip.
An easy to implement key component to using space efficiently is to roll, cube, or bag your clothing. Give each travel party member a set of packing cubes to fit clothes and extra items. By packing in cubes, items can easily be moved or reorganized if someone’s bag is over the airline weight limit.
I’ve had great success using jumbo sized Ziplock bags, rolling them to remove extra air before zipping closed. For smaller items such as socks and underwear, pack them in smaller Ziploc bags to fill in the tiny spaces that are available in the suitcase.
Keep Shoes Separate
Comfy, broken-in sneakers are a must for summer travel but they can stink! If you put shoes in the main compartment of your suitcase while traveling, keeping them in separate plastic bags so they don’t make other clothes smell is a must.
If you’re on a budget, recycle used grocery bags for this task and skip purchasing those specifically made for packing shoes. I’ve used grocery bags on plenty of trips and they have always worked just fine.
Carry Extra Ziploc Bags
Always pack a few large Ziploc bags wherever your travels take you. They are especially useful for keeping lotions and sprays that may leak separate from other items and help keep you organized. Easily lost small items are simpler to see and locate through the clear bags.
As a bonus, extra Ziplock bags are perfect for keeping souvenirs safe and sound for your return trip home.
Bring a Beach Bag
If your summer travel plans mean fun in the sun you’ll want to pack a lightweight beach bag in your suitcase. Knowing you have a grab and go bag you can fill with everything needed to be safe in the sun can really be a time and money saver.
Pack sunscreen, after-sun lotion, beach floaties for the little ones, and other needed beach items in a Ziploc bag for airplane travel. This will protect items in case they explode or leak from the increased pressure and then simply toss it all in the beach bag when you’re ready to head to the beach or pool at your destination.
Maximize Clothing Options
Multi-purpose sundresses and wrap skirts are perfect for summer travel. Take advantage of their multiple uses and save space as they pack in small spaces and they can be used as beach cover-ups too.
It’s easy to take a sundress or wrap skirt from day to night by packing a white or color-coordinated wrap for a versatile cover up for evenings out or dinner at your favorite restaurant. Compete your evening outfit with a simple necklace and a pair of wedge sandals.
For men, some swim trunks resemble casual chic beach shorts. Instead of packing a change of clothes for dinner, pair the shorts with a button-down shirt and nice driving shoes for an updated look that minimizes the clothing you need to pack.
By following a few simple and savvy summer packing tips, you can help make your trip stress-free by packing like a boss!
Do you have other favorite travel packing tips? Let us know in a comment below.
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Great tips! I will be using these this weekend for our road trip!
I’m glad I could help Jessica!
Very good tips – and especially the ziplock bags – I don’t even know how many times those have come in handy!
I’m filling up ziplock bags right now in anticipation of my upcode trip out west!
I enjoy learning new packing tips. Maximizing outfits is a great space saver.
I love the maximizing outfits tip too!
This is a great list! I’ve been reading about the travel cubes but have not tried them yet-I’ll have to try it out on my next trip!
I’m using packing cubes and ziplock bags right now as I prepare for next week’s trip to Portland.
great common sense tips! Somehow common sense seems to leave my brain when I pack. I start with good intentions… and then overpack and get ridiculous. I’ll pull this up for our next trip to keep me on task!
I love common sense! 🙂
I wish I could have read this before we went on our cruise in March. It would have been so helpful. I am a horrible packer!! Thank you for this.
You’re welcome Shannon. Save these tips for your next trip. 🙂
Ziplock bags are a lifesaver! I also like to pack a light sweater because I’m often cold.
Ziploc Bags: best packing hack ever!
Ziplocks are a must when packing!
I think summer is nice because women’s clothes are lighter like the sundress tip! It really helps!
I don’t wear dresses often but in the summer, they are a must-pack item for me.
I must say that I hate packing. You have some great tips.
Part science part magic… Love the game of getting ready for a great adventure!!!… James
Ha! That’s a good way to look at it James!
As usual great advice and tips Bibi! Thank you!
Thank you so much!!
Great tips, thank you for sharing. I like taking zip lock bags, there are so many uses for them.
I love ziplock bags for travel…so many uses!
Excellent tips. I am an overpacker, but slowly getting better. I love our packing cubes! It is such a great way to pack. I always bring a beach bag as well. I just need to remember I don’t need my whole closet. LOL.
Taking the whole closet = the struggle is real!
All good ideas… I am a clothes roller and like the packing cubes too for organization.. I color code the cubes so I grab the right one every time when I am arriving tired and need to just see the color and grab.
These are great tips. We take very few items with us.
Great packing tips…I lean toward overpacking so was proud of myself when I only took a carryon for a week in Spain followed by five days in Boston last month. But it was stressful!
I always wait last minute to pack, I loathe it so much. Worse is even unpacking. Can’t wait for a tip on how to hire a packer, ha!
I’m going to have my kids read this so I don’t have to convince them to pack less. My one daughter takes more than my husband does.