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Organize + Energize: 8 Things Not to do When Packing for Your Summer Vacation

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Planning on taking a trip this summer? Are you the type of person that brings 3 suitcases for a weekend getaway? Do you find that you over pack and then realize you’ve even forgotten items once you arrive at your destination? Vacations are for decompressing, relaxing and are supposed to be stress-free. Don’t let the process of packing become an overwhelming task.

Here are 8 things NOT to do when packing for your vacation:

Don’t wing it. Plan and prepare. Start making a list of things you want to pack. Coordinate outfits, write down all of the toiletries you need to bring. Clear the mental clutter and put everything onto paper. Do this a week or two before you go away. Take 15 minutes to write out your list. Use this as a guide when you’re getting ready to pack. If you wing it, you’ll overpack and will also forget to pack items.

Don’t pack like you’re going away for a month. Overpacking is the biggest mistake people make. Coordinate outfits ahead of time. Mix and match pieces. Think about the different outfits you’ll need. Again, planning will help you figure out what you need as opposed to waiting last minute and throwing everything into a suitcase.

Don’t leave any empty space in your suitcase.  Fill every inch of your suitcase. Stuff socks into shoes. Place underwear, bras, and other small items in between crevices in the suitcase. Maximize the space in your suitcase and don’t leave any empty space.

Don’t throw your clothes in the suitcases. Fold items as small as you can. There is a process to packing a suitcase and the smaller you fold the clothes and the tighter you pack them, the more you’ll be able to fit in the suitcase.

Don’t bring your entire shoe closet. Choose one or two pairs of dressy shoes, a pair of beach shoes and a pair of running shoes. Wear one of these the day of your trip. Don’t fill up your suitcase with shoes. Again plan your outfits and pick a shoe or a couple of pairs that match multiple outfits.

Don’t bring full-size toiletries. Purchase trial size items or transfer liquids into carry on containers. You may even use the entire product by the end of the trip and then you will create more space in your suitcase for souvenirs or other items. Full-size toiletries take up prime real estate in a suitcase, plus if they leak, they will cause more of a mess for you.

Don’t assume that you will remember everything. Use a checklist and cross off as you prepare to pack. The one item you think you will remember is usually the item you forget to pack.

Don’t pack a half hour before you have to leave. We have enough stress today in regards to traveling.  Don’t let this packing process overwhelm and stress you out. A few nights before you leave, lay out your clothes and everything you want to pack. Have everything folded and ready to go. The night before, you can pack everything into your suitcase in an organized fashion. Pack your travel toiletries and anything else you won’t be using. The morning of your trip pack your daily items after you use them.

Remember, this process doesn’t have to be stressful and overwhelming unless you allow it to be. Planning and preparing is the key to success. Have a great trip!


Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, is an organizing & efficiency expert and owner of Organizing in RI. Kristin teaches her clients that living an organized lifestyle will save them time and money, decrease their stress levels and help them become more efficient and productive. Her articles have been published in local and national magazines. She has also given over 80 presentations throughout the state. Kristin has created a one-of-a-kind weekly planner. More info here.


Related Slideshow: 10 Areas You Find Most Challenging to Get Organized

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Paper in any form

This was the most challenging space! 91% of people surveyed stated paper was their biggest headache. Just because we are in this digital age, people think paper is going to disappear. As long as we have mail, and paper at work, kid’s school papers, etc., paper is going to be around for a very long time. We need to develop systems to organize and maintain our paper clutter.

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 To stay on top of an organized closet, you should be emptying your closet twice a year. Switch your closets in the spring and fall. This will force you to take inventory of the contents of the closet. You’ll never know what’s hiding in the back corners of your closet unless you take everything out.

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When was the last time you emptied your entire food closet down to bare shelves? I asked this question at my last presentation and not one person could remember. Some said the last time their food pantry was empty was when they first moved in and others stated it had been years. Have garbage bags on hand. In every kitchen I organize, we throw out at least three garbage bags of expired food.

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This is the black hole of the house. If an item doesn’t have a home, it usually gets thrown in the basement on a shelf. You’ll walk into the basement one day and wonder how did it get so bad? The first thing you need to do in the basement is declutter, then categorize items and then decide how you want to function going forward. Measure your space and choose shelving units that will fit what you need to hold. Block off 3 hours and don’t leave the basement during that time. Staying in the room will keep you focused.

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The garage is an area similar to the basement. The garage tends to be a drop spot for outdoor items and usually there isn’t any organization.  Most tend to regret not organizing the garage when they find they can’t park their cars in the garage in the winter months when it’s snowing. Put this project on your to-do list this fall.

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Office at work

Most will say they don’t have time to tackle this area, but think about the time you are wasting by not being organized. The office can be challenging for some because you have paper, closet space, desk space and bookshelves. Most get overwhelmed and stressed just thinking about tackling this space. They think it’s easier to function this way than to actually tackle the project.

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Kid’s rooms

If your kids are over the age of 6, incorporate them in this process. If you don’t have the skill set to help them get organized, call in a professional to work one-on-one with them. If your kids are craving structure, it’s time for them to get organized.

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Another one of those black holes like the basement. You rarely venture into the attic and you continue to toss items in there that don’t have a home. The garage, basement and attic are really challenging areas because you don’t spend much time in them. Think about how you want to function in these spaces. Streamline and maximize this space. This room should have a purpose.

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Linen closets

When items are just thrown into this closet without being contained, chaos will ensue. Empty the entire closet, categorize, itemize and then measure the space. Purchase containers to match the space and what you have to hold. It’s all about maximizing space in this closet and being able to put your hand on something without moving five other items out of the way.

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This is a tough project even for people who are organized. Memorabilia items and photos are a challenge because as you go through them, you tend to reminisce. Save this for the last project on your list of areas to organize. Once you begin, just focus on tossing and keeping and then reminisce when the decluttering process is completed.


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