Raise your hand if you, like me, have ever taken a trip somewhere and realized you forgot to bring something. Hopefully it all worked out or there was a lesson learned and not repeated. You’re at an age where you have more autonomy over your stuff, your style, and your routines. When you have an upcoming vacation or holiday, perhaps YOU would rather prepare and pack your things instead of having your parents or older sibling take care of it. To help you be less intimidated by taking over this responsibility, or maybe if you’re already doing it, to help you be more efficient, I’ll share some tips on vacay and holiday prep.
Prepare at School
Let’s say you’re taking a trip during the school year. First, find out what dates you’ll be gone to determine if you’ll miss any classes. If you will be absent on school days, as soon as you know–meaning, not the morning you leave or while you’re gone–contact your teacher(s) (talk to them in person/send them an email/message) to let them know about your upcoming absence. Ask your teacher what work you will miss, if you can take any work with you on your trip, and how long you’ll have to make up work when you return. Make note of any details your teacher gives you in your planner and write yourself reminders about deadlines. Pack whatever work you need to bring with you (books to read, worksheets, notes to study, etc.). Then follow through on the work you need to do either during or after your trip. Remind your parents to notify your school about your absence, too.
If your trip is over days off school, but you were assigned work over that weekend or short break, again be sure to write it down in your planner and pack whatever materials you need to bring with you to work on during the car ride, flight, or other down time during your trip. Don’t plan on being able to cram it all in the night you get back home when you have school the next day.
Also, before you leave town, go through your desk, locker, and backpack and bring home any items that need to be washed or dealt with so they don’t get gross while you’re gone–gym clothes, water bottles, lunch boxes, perishable or opened food. No one wants that surprise smell when they return.
Prepare at Home
There are even more things to take care of at home. Before you start packing, you need to know some key info:
- How many days/nights are you traveling? This will help you know how many clothes and toiletries to pack.
- What’s the weather forecast where you’re going? You’ll need to bring different items if it’s going to be hot and humid or frigid cold or raining nonstop or somewhere in between.
- What events/activities will you be doing? Along with packing for the weather, you may need to bring things for going sledding or going to the beach or going to a fancy event. And if you’re traveling for a school trip or team competition, be sure to include any uniforms or costumes or gear or matching shirts you’re supposed to wear. And if others will be bringing the same things as you, label your items with your name or initials.
Plan Outfits in Advance
This may seem too soon, but I’d recommend at least a week before your trip, plan what outfits you want/need to pack. You don’t need them in your suitcase yet; you’re making sure that A) you have all of the items you need, or B) you have enough time to get them before you go (like if your winter coat is too small now, or you don’t have a rash guard for snorkeling). Let your parents know asap if there’s an item you need so you can shop for or borrow one. Then, however your family manages laundry (you do your own, your parents do it, whatever), three days before you leave, if there’s anything in your laundry basket that’s going with you on the trip, get those things washed and dried so they’re ready to pack.
Review Toiletries in Advance
Again, at least a week before your trip, go through your supply of toiletries (hair care, skin care, body care, period products, etc.) to make sure A) you’re not running low on those things, factoring in how long you’ll be gone, or B) you have enough time to get more before you go. If you’re going on a school or team trip, be sure to label your items with your name or initials.
The biggest question is, what do you pack? This will vary depending on your destination and itinerary. To help you, I created a packing checklist with a bunch of items you WILL need or MIGHT need, and if you don’t, just cross it out. I actually use a packing checklist like this and so do my teen and tween. I put it in a plastic page protector and they mark it with a dry erase marker so they can reuse the list and save paper. I highly recommend you download the pdf of this list below.
Clothes you WILL need:
First, outfits for as many days as you’ll be gone, plus additional ones for certain activities or events you’re doing (like I referenced before). Now, clothes take up a lot of space in suitcases, especially cold weather clothes. So, even if you’re gonna be gone for a week, you may not need 7 hoodies or pants if you normally rewear them before washing them. You could match two tops with one pair of jeans to make two outfits, and thus save on space. Unless you’re planning on getting dirty and won’t be able to do laundry on the trip (like deep woods camping), you can stretch your outfits. Same thing goes for pajamas, unless you’ll likely get them dirty, you could bring one set of pjs for every two days you’ll be gone. This rule, however, does not apply to socks or underwear. For those, bring as many as days you’ll be gone plus one, just in case. Bras, bring two or three to cycle through. Shoes will depend on the weather and activities. You could bring sneakers plus slip ons, or boots if it’s cold, or sandals if it’s warm. You don’t need to pack them all, plus you’ll be wearing one pair on the first day you travel, so that helps.
Clothes you MIGHT need:
Depending on the weather, a light jacket, rain slicker, or heavy coat and gloves. A hat to block the sun, or just for looks. If you’re gonna get wet, a swimsuit or two if you have multiple water activities. Activewear, whether for sports, hiking, etc., and this also includes corresponding footwear. Accessories like jewelry, sunglasses, watches, belts, etc.
Toiletries you WILL need:
If you can find travel sizes of your products or put them in travel-sized containers, that will save you space and luggage weight. Also if you’re flying on an airplane and pack in carry-on luggage, be mindful of the sizes of your liquid containers—most airlines limit it to 3.4oz or 100ml per item and they all must fit in a quart-sized bag. All right? Body care, including your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss–and if you have them, a retainer or trays and the case, or braces supplies. Also if you have glasses or contacts, bring an extra pair and a protective case, solution, etc. Deodorant, bring it and use it. A razor if you use one. Period products–even if you don’t anticipate having a period while on your trip, it’s good to be prepared. Also, skin care, like face wash and lotion or whatever products are in your skin routine. Sunscreen. Makeup and brushes, if you use them. Hair care, like a brush or comb, shampoo and conditioner, products in your hair styling routine (creams, gels, sprays), tools in your hair styling routine (hair dryer, curling iron), hair accessories (hair ties, clips, bobby pins).
Gear you WILL need:
A refillable water bottle–if you’re flying be sure to empty it before you go through security. Schoolwork, if you need it. A book or magazine to read for fun. Chargers for your devices. Headphones for your devices. A stash of snacks. Hand sanitizer, since traveling can be germy. Pocket tissues are also a good idea.
Gear you MIGHT need:
A journal and pen or pencil. A neck pillow, or your own pillow if you’re driving and there’s room. Goggles or other swimming gear. A travel game or card game. A small first aid kit, like band-aids, tweezers, cream for sunburns, etc. Bug spray. A waterproof phone bag if you’ll be doing water activities.
What to pack in:
Whether traveling by land, air, or sea, I find it helpful to have a personal bag I can keep with me (like a backpack, purse, or crossbody) for things I need often. Other items you won’t need to get to while you’re traveling can go in a duffle bag or suitcase, either a carry-on size or full size. Ask your parents which they think is best for your trip. While I’d recommend starting sooner, pack your items at least 24 hours before so you can make sure everything fits and have enough time for a last-minute run to the store in a pinch.
Packing Checklist Printable
To help you with this, I created a “Packing Checklist” for you to print out, personalize, and use so your next vacay or holiday runs even smoother — that’s the important part.
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