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Best Smart Travel Packing Tips

In need of a tropical escape? Me too. Get prepared with my best smart travel packing tips.

My favorite time of the year is vacation time. We try to take a couple each year and I look forward to the fun and intimate moments with my family without the stressors of everyday life.

a photo of birds flying over the ocean

Life is so busy and hectic that the time away from everything is so good for all of us. We always come back from vacation feeling refreshed and ready to face life.

But before we can enjoy any kind of vacation, we have to deal with the dreaded task of packing for a family of five. It’s getting a little easier now that my children are getting older, but it hasn’t always been that way. I’ve learned a lot during my almost 15 years of parenting.

family of 5 in front of the tree of life at animal kingdom at walt disney world resort

For this post I’m just focusing on basic travel tips without an emphasis on air travel, road trips, etc. These are just the best smart travel packing tips to help you maximize space and ensure you pack everything you need.

a car packed with suitcases

Best Smart Travel Packing Tips

Make a list. Making a list is a great way to ensure that you pack everything you’ll need while you’re away from home. I have a basic travel list that I keep on my computer and I can add or subtract things depending on where we are going and for how long we will be gone. As I place items in suitcases or travel bags, I mark it off my list, and therefore mark it off my brain.

Choose thinner fabrics. Unless you’re traveling somewhere cold, of course. We usually don’t travel to cold places so all of our packing is usually for some place hot and tropical – my favorite. By choosing thinner fabrics, you’ll be able to fit more into your luggage therefore reducing the number of bags you need to bring.

Roll your clothes, don’t fold. When you’re packing for five people it’s important to fit as much as you can into the space you have. In my experience, rolling saves space and reduces wrinkles. It’s really a win-win.

Pack by outfit. I started doing this once I had children. I pack all of the kid’s outfits together so they know exactly what to wear. Each outfit includes underwear, socks, short/pants, and shirt. If I’m feeling super organized, I’ll even label the outfits to which day they are supposed to be worn.

Pack outfits in gallon-sized bags. Having one spilled bottle of lotion or shampoo in your bag is all it takes to totally ruin the high of getting to your vacation destination. To keep outfits together, packing them in gallon-sized bags keeps them safe from accidental spills, and ensure the littles know exactly what to wear. If you want your children to wear certain outfits on specific days, you can label the outside of the bag to make it easy for them to know exactly what to put on for the day.

Pack socks inside of the shoes. It’s no secret that shoes take up a lot of valuable space inside of your luggage. If you choose to forego packing everything in a gallon-sized bag, you can still save some room by packing pairs of socks inside of shoes.

Keep jewelry safe inside of snack-sized bags. I don’t always travel with jewelry, but when I do, I find that using snack-sized baggies is a great way to keep it all safe, untangled and organized. Rings and most bracelets can be in one snack-sized bag, but I like to keep necklaces in their own bag to ensure they don’t get tangled together.

Bring travel-sized toiletries. Bottles of shampoos and lotions can take up a lot of valuable space in your luggage. If you can’t purchase travel-sized versions, buy travel-sized bottles and make your own. Don’t forget to label your bottles.

Stick with the basics. Packing more than we need is a big problem we all face, I think. It’s the fear of the unknown that makes us pack more than we need. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to think about the what-ifs, but by sticking with the basics packing becomes more manageable and less stressful.

Opt for the e-reader, instead. It’s very tempting to bring that pile of books you’ve been dying to read. By using an e-reader, you can have all your favorite books on one, lightweight device that is perfect for traveling.

When it comes to a stress-free vacation, these best smart travel packing tips are a must.

Even if there are no tropical vacations in your near future, you can replicate the fragrances of the tropics right at home. Because you can’t escape the dreary winter weather to experience the warmth of the tropics, let your imagination take you on a mini escape when you pop the top to your favorite Gain Laundry Detergent and smell a Tropical Sunrise, White Tea Lavender, or a Moonlight Breeze.

clothes on hangers laid on a vintage box with Gain laundry detergent

We’re always saving for our next vacation. I’m not a big spender anyway, but saving money on everyday expenses is a great way to add a few coins to the vacation fund. You can put some change back this month while doing laundry when you buy your Gain at Walmart.

a bottle of gain on a bed

For a limited time, Gain 150 oz. Liquid Laundry Detergent is on Rollback at Walmart for $13.44 (regularly $14.94). In addition, there is a coupon available in print and on pgeveryday.com to help you save even more. Watch for the RedPlum coupon book in your 2/11 Sunday paper or go to pgeveryday.com for $2 off Gain Liquid Detergent (valid through 2/24) to add an extra $3.50 to your vacation fund.

Are there any smart travel packing tips you would add to this list?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Gain at Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.

About Crystal

Crystal Reagan, the owner and founder of SimplyBeingMommy.com lives in Small Town, Texas with her husband and 3 children. Crystal and her website have been featured on local and national news stations including Channel 2 Houston and ABC News. She has also appeared on BetterTV as a Mommy Expert for VTech.


  1. 1

    We pack in gallon size bags too. It’s especially good for kids so they can keep a whole days clothes together in one spot. I like the idea of packing inside the shoes too, that makes sense.

  2. 2

    I always try to make a list of what I need for a trip. I never thought of packing clothes in gallon-sized bags! That should save some space!

  3. 3

    I leave on an international trip in less than three weeks and plan to implement some of these excellent ideas! I am especially anxious to try rolling my clothing to save on space.

  4. 4

    We travel like this also but, I have never rolled my clothing. I might try that the next time we are headed out. I would imagine we could save a lot of space in doing this. Great post! The gallon size bag ideal is very smart.

  5. 5

    Great tip about packing socks inside of the shoes, need to share that one with my husband. He ALWAYS over-packs but ends up forgetting something.

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