Packing. Something I’ll probably never be good at. It literally took me YEARS to become a decent packer, which I don’t quite understand considering my obsession with time management and organizing (sorry, Marie Kondo!). Rookie mistakes still happen, frustration follows. Now, with two kids in tow, the bar has been raised further.
The list of my packing mistakes is embarrassingly long, here are the ones which, in my opinion, are the worst. I’m hoping against hope that noting them down might help me to avoid them in the future…
1. Packing way too many items.
“I will definitely wear this blouse! Oh, but that other one looks so good on me. And this one was bought especially for trips like the upcoming one!”. Bam! All three land in my suitcase. Sounds familiar? I bet that to some extent, it does 🙂
Quick solution: pack considering complete outfits, not single items of clothing.
2. Packing things that are cheap and easily available at the destination.
Do you really need to stuff your suitcase with those big bottles of shower gel and shampoo while packing for a short holiday at your parent’s place? Will you honestly need those extra water bottles while vacationing at a 5-star resort (ok, in the Maldives where water is more expensive than jewelry you probably will, but that’s a rare exception)? Is it really such a good idea to take a bag of sandwiches on a plane where you know you’ll be served two full meals?
Quick solution: stop and think about all other things you could pack if you quit trying to stuff your bag with a 6-pack of toilet rolls!
3. Packing without consulting the weather forecast at the destination.
The most frequent of my worst packing mistakes! I usually just get a general idea about what the weather should be like and pack based on that. I then end up with a bag full of sweaters (see also: mistake no. 1) in the scorching heat. Funny enough, I do put weather forecast in my bullet journal travel spreads, go figure!
Quick solution: easy. Check the forecast!
4. Packing important baby/kid items in the check-in luggage instead of carry-on.
Scene: you finally managed to convince your hyperactive 3-year-old to have a nap on a plane when you suddenly realize that you packed his favorite teddy in the check-in bag! Major tantrum follows, fellow passengers hate you, you end up stuffing your child with cookies and hating yourself for the remainder of the flight.
Quick solution: make a list of carry-on must-haves and follow it every single time you pack for a trip.
5. Not packing enough changes of kid’s clothes in the carry-on.
Let’s face it: predicting how many times your kid will require his clothes to be changed during one flight is like trying to predict what the weather be like 3 months from now. Next to impossible. One thing is certain: taking 1 spare t-shirt and pants is one of the worst packing mistakes. I still remember how we ended up once with a toddler all wrapped up and cozy in my husband’s t-shirt 😉
Quick solution: just pack more than one of each!
6. Spreading electronic items all over three carry-on bags instead of grouping them inside one.
There’s always this one annoying person who takes forever at the airport’s security check, digging through their bags and having them returned from the scanner. That would be me… (sometimes :)). I know very well that all electronic items must be removed to be scanned and that the smart thing to do would be grouping them in one bag and then just whipping them all out in no time. In reality, packing a carry-on bag is my worst nightmare. Too much stuff (thanks, Mom, for all the extra food you’ve prepared for us!), too heavy bag, forbidden items… I end up frantically stuffing things here and there, swearing at the bag that won’t zip.
Quick solution: plan in advance! Select one bag to keep all your electronics in. Invest in a special organizer (such as this one, which I recently got for hubby).
7. Packing my own clothes with a fashion magazine cover in mind, ignoring the fact that I am a mom on a family vacation, not an Instagram influencer.
One of my worst mistakes that keeps on happening over and over again! One thing I really can’t resist: the glamorous yet casual vacation looks pulled together by social media influencers! I try to pack my bags accordingly and end up with a score of incomplete ridiculous outfits. Then I miserably switch between two t-shirts and two pairs of pants throughout the trip, hoping and praying that none of them gets dirty (with a toddler in tow? Dream on…).
Quick solution: stay away from social media while preparing for your trip! Pack with your previous trips in mind (I know, easier said than done).
8. Not enough snacks for the duration of the travel.
Imagine a scene: you’re on a plane, at night, halfway through the trip. All is quiet, most passengers sleeping. Suddenly, your toddler son pokes you and demands a snack. You dig through your bag and realize he’d eaten the last of his sandwich/muffin/fruit pouch an hour earlier. You swallow loudly and brace yourself for an inevitable tantrum… Bonus tantrum points if your child is a picky eater and won’t even consider munching on anything available on a plane. Yup, that clearly justifies why this landed on my list of worst packing mistakes.
Quick solution: pack those extra snacks, even if you end up having to leave some of your stuff behind. I’d much rather have 10 hours of peace of mind, than a stash of fashion magazines and a screaming toddler.
9. Allowing my 4-year-old to pack his toys by himself.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT just throw a small empty backpack at your child and tell him to pack “whatever he wants” in there. He will end up with a backpack packed tightly with the heaviest and most random items in his possession, half of which won’t even make it through the airport security check! Sure, we do value our kids’ independence, but there are things that you can do without hovering over them while they pack.
Quick solution: pre-select toys which they can take with them, pile them up and tell them to choose from the pile. Or, if you feel adventurous, tell your kid that he can only pack X toys (X = a number) and see how it goes.
10. Not listening to my 4-year-old regarding which clothes he’d like to take.
I do understand that it’s not advisable to let them pick every single item of clothing if we don’t want to end up walking around with a tiny clown/hobo/Elsa/Chewbacca (depending on what your kid is currently into). But don’t ignore ALL of their requests altogether. First of all, at a certain age, they do require a certain level of self-reliance. Secondly, you want to avoid a situation where your beloved son/daughter refuses to walk out of the hotel room because none of his favorite t-shirts ended up in your suitcase.
Quick solution: to avoid counting this among your own worst packing mistakes, remove the most embarrassing items from their closet before the packing begins!