Happy vacation season! Weekend getaways, cross-country road trips, jet-setting to exotic spots, time on the beach . . . these are the trips we look forward to all year long. The hassle associated with them, however, can be highly stressful. From over-packing to souvenir shopping sprees, all that stuff can take the fun out of a great trip. Here are some tips for a trip that should be everything a vacation should be: uncluttered and uncomplicated!
Overpacking doesn’t set the stage for a clutter-free trip. I’ve shared my top tips on how to pack light before. Really think about every item you put in your suitcase and only include what’s necessary. Some of my recommendations, based on items I currently own/travel with:
- My red tote: Water resistant, durable, attractive and enough pockets to keep my stuff organized without overdoing it.
- My GridIt keeps tiny things organized and secure.
- Air compressor bags maximize suitcase space.
- Travel laundry bag, to keep dirty clothes separate from the clean.
- Leak-proof eye droppers, because travel-sized contact solution is SO expensive, I just refill these from my large bottle.
- My microfiber towel: I recommend an XL . . . they take up so little luggage space and double as blankets on chilly airplanes. I’ve had mine for 6 years, and it was by far the best item I brought with me to Kenya for 2 months in 2010.
- My pill organizer = my portable pharmacy. (And here’s a favorite pill organizing hack!)
- My silk sleep sack: I use this when I travel on overnight trains, or sleep in questionable hostels. This is my second favorite thing I packed for two months of volunteer work in Kenya.
There’s a lot of chatter in the news about upcoming size limits for carryon luggage, so now is the time to practice efficient packing! Here’s what I typically pack:
Focus on creating memories, not creating clutter.
Almost every destination has a souvenir shop, and it’s packed with stuff you do not need. Figurines, tchotchkes, t-shirts and junk that will collect dust and guilt you if you even consider decluttering them down the road.
Have to shop? Go for use-ables or consumables.
Mementos aren’t bad if they’re intentional. If you need to bring something home, choose something special: maybe art for your home, something you’ll actually wear or something you’ll actually use. My friend loves and uses the hand carved giraffe salad servers I brought her from Africa. Consumables are also a great choice. If you have gift-giving in mind, try to find a bottle of locally-made liquor or candies to bring home. Think saltwater taffy from the beach, chocolate from Belgium or rum from the Caribbean. Nobody wants a shot glass from a trip they didn’t get to enjoy with you, but they’ll thank you for the rum or chocolates!
Be selective about the pictures you take.
It’s tempting to capture every last second of your trip — every meal, every sight, every moment. But be discriminating in the moments you choose. When you capture the most meaningful moments, you don’t arrive home with a cluttered collection of photos. Take pictures selectively now, so you don’t have to sort through them later. Personally, I take photos of moments that stand still for me while I take my phone out to capture them, like a meal before I eat it. If I am doing an activity where I might miss the moment if I’m too busy taking photos, like scuba diving or bird watching, I skip it and try to simply marinate in the brief but pleasant encounter.
Turn off social media!
I’m guilty of it too (those of you who know me, know that I love to Instagram my meals!). On an epic getawat, you want to show off the fun things you’re up to. But it’s a rabbit hole! What started as posting one picture can spiral into half an hour of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and you haven’t looked up from your screen. Focus on the moment and enjoy it, tech-free. Twitter will still be there after your trip. When you get home, pick a favorite few pictures to post. You may still get plenty of likes . . . but it shouldn’t really matter, should it?