Summer adventures are just around the corner! Sharing a few of my favorite packing essentials that make our trips run much more smoothly today.
I have not historically been the best traveler. Not that I don’t enjoy it, I’ve just always felt a little uneasy when we were away from home and our regular routines. I kind of felt like maybe I was doing it wrong because I just felt distracted and like I wasn’t able to find much joy and excitement in the whole process. It’s something I’ve really been working at for years and I’ve really been focussed on trying to find what works for me specifically and what parts of traveling make it an enjoyable experience for me. I’m still working on it to be honest, and I learn something new about what works and what doesn’t on every little mini trip we take, but I’ve pinpointed a few things that really make a big difference for me, so I wanted to share those today in case you’re wanting to be a better, more carefree traveler as well.
My Traveling Non-Negotiables
There are two things that I’ve discovered help to give me a bit of structure when we’re away and make me feel quite a bit more at-ease. The first thing is that I try to stick to a normal schedule wherever I can. I’ve tried to be all easy-going about it and do things like eat dinner at 8:30pm (when we normally eat at 5 at the latest) and I just end up not being able to sleep that night and with knots in my stomach the next day. I find it super helpful to try to at least keep the rhythm of my day similar to normal, with high-activity times of the day staying pretty much the same, and “downtime” happening at the same time as usual. I find keeping this rhythm just basically keeps me from becoming completely exhausted by all of the excitement and allows me to feel energized by it instead.
The other thing that I need is organization. I didn’t realize how much digging through a suitcase and making a mess of it trying to find a certain item was wearing me out until I got organized and stopped needing to do that. Instead of dreading looking for my clothes for the day, or finding a bandaid for the kids, these little instances are actually really enjoyable and rewarding. It’s just delightful to be able to find what you’re looking for when you need it. It’s true at home and it’s true when you’re away too.
I also find it really helpful to have travel bags that bring me joy to use. It sounds kind of silly, but it’s just a little bright spot in my day when I go to grab something out of a bag that functions well, and that looks good too. And these little bright spot add up.
What I Use to Pack
We used to use our bigger suitcases for everything, but I’ve started to realize how cumbersome they are for me to use for smaller trips. I don’t love how heavy they can be, how hard they are to reach across for someone as short as I am, and also how much floor space they take up in a hotel room when you leave them open. Lately, I’ve really preferred to use several smaller weekender size bags whenever possible and it makes things much more manageable. I have a cognac leather overnight bag that I actually found at thrift store (similar here) that works really well and I use that in combination with however many LLBean boat and tote bags are needed for that particular trip. I just got this new monogrammed tote bag a few weeks ago and I went for the ziptop option this time specifically so I could use it as an overnight bag because I realized how often I was using my other ones to pack clothing and toiletries.
We started using ezpacking packing cubes maybe 6-ish years ago and we never looked back. (You can use my code CREEKLINEHOUSE for 15% off your order!) They have made such a difference for us, both in how much stuff we can cram into one suitcase (a whole family of four packed into one suitcase for a ten-day trip!), and in our ability to find things while traveling. They packing cubes are clear so you can actually see what’s in each one and take exactly what you need out of your bag without making a giant mess of everything. Game changers.
I added a few more packing cubes to my collection recently because I thought of a few more things I would like to have them for. Our old ones are still in perfect condition, so now we’re really all set for any kind of adventure we might like to undertake this summer.
This is the basic starter set, which is enough for both Chris and I to pack up most of our clothing for a weekend getaway. It comes with four different sizes of cubes. I usually give the kids both a large or medium and a small cube as well to help them organize their bags.
I like to use an assortment of smaller packing cubes for toiletries and all the other little bits and bobs that need to be packed up. Keeping everything contained and separated is just so satisfying. I’ll use the larger toiletry case as kind of a family “bathroom bag” that stays on the counter in the hotel room bathroom, then I’ll use these little round bags to keep my own personal skincare and makeup separate and tidy. I don’t use many products, so smaller size of those is perfect for me. I use the larger makeup bag as kind of a carryall pouch for odds and ends in the car on a road trip: Snacks, chargers, lip balm, lotion, things like that.
And my final bit of packing advice? Always travel with good chocolate, no matter what. You just never know when you might need it. 🙂
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.