There’s a few things I’ve learned over the past several months. I’ve traveled a lot in my life. The majority of those times when I was single and didn’t have a child. I could toss most of what I needed for a day out in my map case I’ve had since my Army days. I can still do that from time to time depending on our activities for the day. And technology has definitely changed since the early 90’s when I started my adventures on my own. How and what I pack has evolved. As I downsized to a smaller vehicle it became more important to pick what to take very carefully.
Do I need it or do I want it? There’s some things that we take on vacation with us thinking it’s something we just have to have. That’s not always the case. How many pairs of jeans do you really need to take? At home I usually wear my jeans twice before washing them. When I’m on vacation I do the same, for the most part. I do like to pack an extra pair just in case. Typically I pack one extra set of clothes for me and Ronnie, and two extra sets for Paige. She’s a very messy child who can get filthy just by looking out the window. We keep toiletry bags mostly packed. I manage that by using travel size shampoo and conditioner that don’t need to stay in the shower, and by using old items. When it’s time to buy new face cleanser there’s still probably a weeks worth still in the old bottle. I put the new cleanser in the shower and put the old one in my toiletry bag. It’s still perfectly good and can be used. Another advantage to taking the almost used up cleanser is that if I leave it at the hotel by accident, I haven’t lost a full bottle of Clinique cleanser that’s more expensive to replace.
Technology has definitely changed the way I pack. Who needs an atlas anymore? I just use the GPS built into my iPhone. I’m behind the times in not having a separate GPS for my car, but I don’t need it that often. Or at least not often enough to justify actually buying a GPS, I would rather upgrade to iPhone 4 instead. I print out a map from Mapquest then put it into my phone. That way someone else can help navigate while I drive if I’m on the phone. Other things have changed as well, like my camera. I don’t have to worry about having enough 35mm film, just enough space on my memory card. My 4 GB card ran out of space on the trip to Disney and I was forced to delete pictures. It’s a good thing I took the laptop to download pictures every night. I was worried about having to delete pictures and losing them, or even dropping the camera on a ride and losing it all that way. I don’t have a lot of extra memory cards laying around, so I packed the laptop. Every night when we got back to the hotel I downloaded the pictures from both cameras so that we would be OK if we had to delete any. Never bothered using the laptop to get online. I was on vacation and wanted to relax without it. It was just very nice to know that when I deleted pictures from our first day we had them safely tucked away on the computer in the room. Another of my favorite things to do is download apps for my phone for where I’m headed. I was able to download apps to tell us wait times for rides and what each restaurant served. We were able to see at a glance if we were willing to wait in line to eat there or if we needed to move on.
My day bag is the hardest to pack. What will I actually need for a day out and about? Now that Paige is older I don’t have to worry about diapers, bottles or sippy cups. Hand sanitizer can be attached to the strap of the bag but there’s other things to think about. For Disney I needed my autograph kit, a Sharpie fine point, scrapbook pages (4×6 size) all in a pencil case to keep the pages from getting messed up. It was cold and windy, then it was warmer. I needed to carry hats, gloves and lightweight jackets for both me and Paige. Add a couple of bottled waters and that bag got heavy and bulky fast. When preparing to walk over 2 miles a day pushing probably 50 pounds of stroller and child, you have to figure out what’s important and what’s not. All of those things were important as was the medicine, phone and camera that I tossed in as well. By the end of the trip I was carrying almost the same things in the bag as I did the first day. That showed me that I had packed well for each day, even if it was a bit heavy to carry. And yes, we did use it all each day, otherwise it would have been taken out.
I make packing lists so that I know I’ve packed matching outfits for each day, including the extras. Things like pull ups or wipes I’m always sure there’s extra. But I don’t go overboard in packing lots of other things that we may or may not use. There’s a Walmart or Target on the way where ever I’m driving. I can pick up things that I forgot. Paige goes through all her clothes and the spares? Well, Disney sells more t-shirts. Or, most hotels have a washer and dryer available for guest use. I can buy or wash what I need. I try to avoid that if at all possible. But keeping that in mind has helped me to pack lighter. I’m happy to say that I used almost every item I took with us on our last trip. Paige did come back with her extra clothes unused. Other than that, we used it all. And I’m happy to report that Paige can travel with only two pairs of shoes and survive.