packing must haves
teacher life,  teaching life,  travel,  work/life balance

Packing Hacks and Travel Must-Haves

Packing hacks

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that we’re going on a Disney Cruise over spring break, and right now I’m in packing heaven! I’m one of those people who loves to plan a trip and pack for it just as much as I love going on the actual trip. I know that not everyone is like that, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite travel must-haves. I also admit that I’m the kind of person who packs for every possible outcome – trying to find a store when you realize that you forgot something is not my idea of a relaxing vacation, so I’m fully aware that I’m an over-packer!

Here are a few of my favorite must-haves for travel (these are all affiliate links):

Tide Sink Packets – These help manage some of the urge to overpack, because I know that I can do some quick and easy laundry in a pinch. They’re also a necessity with kids because there will be stains. When I can wash a stain out quickly then I don’t have to worry about it setting while in the suitcase full of dirty clothes, or forgetting to treat it before I dump all of the laundry into the washing machine at home.

Travel document organizer – I finally broke down and bought one of these. It makes my little organized heart so happy to know that all of the documents I need for our trip (hotel confirmations, passports and IDs, itineraries, boarding passes, etc.) are in one place. I understand the debate about the safety of having all documents in one spot, but I’d personally rather be alert about protecting that one pouch and making sure to put it in the safe as soon as I get to our room than worrying about misplacing something.

Portable charger – this little thing has saved me so many times! I love the design – it’s just a little smaller than my phone and easy to carry while charging. There are so many options for portable chargers, and you can certainly find them with more features, but at less than $10 this one holds up for the price and makes it affordable to have more than one.

Foldable weekender tote bag – This bag is perfection. First, it folds into it’s own pocket so it’s easy to store as an extra piece of luggage (for all those souvenirs!). Second, it has a waterproof liner meaning that it can double as a beach tote. And third, There is a bottom compartment that can be zipped down for additional storage, like those sandy shoes or dirty clothes. I am so excited to use this!

Bath and Body Works room spray – We live by this at home for all of those *smelly* situations, so it’s a no brainer to bring it when we travel. You can’t always bet on a fresh smelling hotel room, and in our case there will be three of us in a tiny cruise ship cabin for a week, I can guarantee that we’ll be glad we have this. I can also vouch for this particular scent. It’s light and very slightly floral – I’m picky about my smells and this is a good one!

Hefty vacuum seal bags – I mentioned that I over-pack right? These are helping with that for sure. Since we’re taking a Disney Cruise, we’re also taking at least four of my daughter’s princess dresses. Being able to vacuum seal all of the tulle makes a huge difference – it also contains some of the glitter.

Travel vacuum pump – Of course, the vacuum seal bags wouldn’t make any sense without a pump to re-seal them. This thing is little, but it does an amazing job! It fits in the palm of my hand and comes with a USB cord so it fits in your phone charging block.

Wrinkle Release Spray – Vacuum sealing, and packing in general, creates wrinkles. I don’t want to spend my vacation ironing, so my go-to trick is spraying with this and then hanging what I want to wear in the bathroom while I shower. The steam and release spray do their thing and I’m all set. Of course this isn’t perfect, and I would still iron something like a dress shirt, but we don’t typically vacation anywhere that requires that level of dress.

Vera Bradley Campus Backpack – This is my all-time-favorite personal item to carry on a plane (or a ship). It’s kind of like Mary Poppins’ bag, it just keeps going. You can fit so much stuff in this thing! All the snacks, activities, extra clothes, travel documents will fit with extra space – and there are so many pockets and compartments that it’s easy to stay organized and find exactly what you need when you need it.

Febreze travel spray – If there’s any chance that I want to wear something more than once then the Febreze is coming with me. I don’t know how this magic work, but it always gets out the restaurant smells and funk from being packed next to shoes or bathing suits. Febreze ensures that things like jeans and leggings worn for leisure can do double duty, meaning I can pack a little less.

Small storage – Packing for a cruise is a little different than packing for any other kind of trip because there really isn’t a Walmart in the middle of the ocean. Of course you can buy things on the ship, but if I can get it cheaper at home I’d rather bring it with me. This is definitely true for medications. I’ve stocked up these little containers with everything from children’s Motrin and Dramamine to cold and flu medicine, Tums, and Benadryl. I don’t want anyone to feel sick if they don’t have to, and I definitely don’t want to be tracking down medicine while I could be enjoying my trip! I added little stickers printed on printable vinyl that label each section. I was even able to fit some SeaBandz and sea sickness patches in the larger compartments.

Packing cubes – I swear that whoever invented these thinks exactly like I do. These just work for my brain. I can separate things, while also compressing them a bit. Since we’re cruising for 7 days I’m also looking forward to being able to take these out of suitcases and put them in storage compartments in the cabin so I don’t have to live out of a suitcase, but can still pack easily when we get ready to leave. I’ve got packing cube sets in different colors for each member of the family to help color code things a bit. This specific set is great because it also comes with the drawstring bag and smaller zipper pouches. Everything is covered and it all matches.

Electronic Accessories Organizer – All of the chargers, seriously why does every device have a different charger?! I mean, I know WHY but trying to pack all of them and keep them organized makes me crazy. I bought one of these organizers and quickly filled it up – cords, blocks, airpods, portable chargers, they’re all in there. As soon as I filled it up with charging accessories I started thinking of all of the other ways I could use this little organizer, so I ordered another one to turn into my own little first aid kit. It’s perfect for bandaids, creams, gauze, and antiseptic wipes.

I’m sure that I’ll have more tips to share as I keep packing, and I also have some DIY crafty projects that I’ve been working on that you’ll seed over the next couple of weeks too!

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