If you're anything like us, it takes a few tries to get your suitcase packed just right, and even then, there are still the occasional times when you get to the airport (or Seniortours pickup point) only to realize you left your wallet/keys/passport/prescriptions/spouse back at the house. It doesn't take much, though, to consistently pack like a pro.
First, let's get to some common novice mistakes.
- The "Morning Of Stuffer" - Like it sounds, this is the packing, umm, "strategy" some of us are forced to resort to when things get busy before a vacation. It's the "if I throw everything in, I won't forget anything" approach, and apart from an unnecessarily heavy and disorganized suitcase, it's not the end of the world. Unfortunately, a heavy bag doesn't just mean a sore arm at the end of the trip, but also increased airline fees, wear and tear on the bag itself, potential damage to crushed goods inside, and no room for souvenirs! Avoid being a stuffer by making a quick checklist of the things you really need. Next, make a list of the things you want to take with you. Take a few minutes to make sure you pack all the things you need (or in the case of citizenship documentation, medicine, or cash, that you have them in a carry-on or waist-pack). In the days before you're scheduled to leave, keep your bag open, and add to it based on the list of things you want to take; that way, you'll be able to see your suitcase filling up in the days before you go, avoiding the frenzy -- and potential disorganization -- of a last minute stuffing.
- The Neat Fold - You think you're all set. It's 3 days before vacation, and not only are you all packed, but every shirt, blouse, jacket, pants, t-shirt, and sweater is folded -- perfectly -- inside your suitcase, and there's not a millimeter of unused space. You're the master of careful efficiency, right? Wrong. Sure, the seemingly perfect geometry of a neatly folded set of clothes is enough to make every Tetris fan jump for joy, but just like in Tetris, you're going to end up looking pretty square once it comes time to unpack, because all those neat folds have creased and folded your clothes to the point where you'll spend the better part of your first night away ironing the creases out. Don't be square - roll your clothes into the tightest rolls you can, and pack everything that way. An added benefit of rolling is the extra protection the layer of soft, rolled clothes gives to anything fragile (like a bottle of perfume or cologne) that you might want to bring when you surround the fragile item with the rolled clothing.
- The Overpacker - We've all been guilty of this at some point. You're going away for 3 days and bring enough wardrobe changes for an Oscars party. Relax. Guidelines suggest a max of 2 changes for each day of travel, and some experts suggest 1 change for every 2 days, allowing you to mix and match tops and bottoms so you're not wearing the same thing twice. Of course, don't skimp on undergarments - you'll want to bring at least enough "unmentionables" to be covered if for some reason you need to switch it up during the day. See #1 for some hints on how not to overdo it.
- The Underpacker - Impressive. You're going away on an 8 month safari, and you managed to fit all your gear in a dopp kit. You're not fooling anyone. Check out mistake #1 for some hints to find the right balance of necessity and desire.
Generally speaking, when packing for any length vacation, the name of the game is comfort. On a Seniortours vacation, unless specifically noted in your itinerary, there are no dress codes, and many hotels have washing/drying facilities on the premises. It's easy to make the mistake of overpacking, so planning ahead is key. Use the links on our Travel Resources page to find out the average temperatures in your destination, and then take some time prior to packing to lay out some favorite clothing pieces, keeping in mind that there's no need to have Oscars-style wardrobe changes at hand on every day of your getaway! When deciding how to allocate room in multiple suitcases, make sure that you have everything you need in an emergency -- medicines, passports, a spare change of light clothing or undergarments, etc. -- close at hand in a bag that stays near you.
Remember - packing should be a fun reminder of the great memories to come on your next adventure! See you on the road!