As winter ends and the weather warms up slightly, I know most of us are longing for a long vacation to unwind. Flight and hotel bookings are a hassle that we all need to go through, but many forget how difficult packing can be.
To pack for your spring vacation, categorize your packing list into outfits, toiletries, shoes, electrical devices, medications, essential items, and other miscellaneous items. Then check your airline’s baggage policy, and get to folding clothes and packing your bag.
Keep reading for the ultimate guide on how to pack for a spring vacation. I’ll show how you can bring along everything you need without going over baggage limits and never forgetting anything.
Categorizing Your Packing List
Before you even begin packing, I find it helpful to plan. This means categorizing everything you need to pack and then making a list. I prefer to enter everything into my phone because I know I will have access to the list no matter where I am, and I won’t forget it.
At first, you might find yourself listing too many items on your packing list, and that’s fine. You can refine the list on its second (and third) draft.
I get it; even on vacation, you want to look your best. How else would you get that perfect Instagram snapshot? But packing lightly and packing a variety of outfits are opposite routes.
The best option is to pack interchangeable pieces that can come together and make multiple outfits out of fewer items.
For example, try to choose neutral-colored shorts so you can wear them with different t-shirts or tops. To get a better idea of how to do this, research capsule wardrobes and think of your outfits for the trips as a mini version of that.
Since you’re going on a trip during the spring months, consider taking a light jacket or some layered clothing. This will keep you covered in case you go out during those chilly spring mornings or nights.
Lastly, don’t forget to pack two different swimwear outfits. It could take time for one outfit to dry before you can wear it again, so having a backup swimsuit allows you to get on with your vacation. Be sure not to forget your sleepwear, loungewear, and undergarments as well!
Pro tip: To pack a better wardrobe, research the climate in the area you’re visiting and look up the weather forecast beforehand.
While the hotels you’re staying at will probably provide most toiletries for free, you may not like them. This doesn’t mean you should pack every soap bottle and lotion you have at home. Think of the things that you aren’t willing to use a substitute for. Some people prefer a certain brand of shampoo but don’t mind using generic shower gel or hand wash. Try to take as few things as possible, focusing on the toiletries you can’t replace.
Pro tip: I found the MIAMICA Women’s TSA Compliant Travel Bottles and Toiletry Bag Kit on Amazon.com. It’s compact but has multiple bottles, so I can carry smaller amounts of all my favorite toiletries. I also don’t need to worry about complying with the TSA rules on liquids when flying!
Here are a few of the most important toiletries you should consider bringing with you on spring vacation:
- Shampoo and conditioner: Bring them if you feel that your hair can’t handle using hotel shampoo for a few days.
- Sunscreen: You’re likely going to spend a lot of time outdoors, so sunscreen is a must.
- Shower gel/soap: You might need to bring your soap if your skin is particularly sensitive.
- Body lotion: The last thing you want is dry skin during your vacation.
- Toothpaste and toothbrush: Most hotels use a very generic brand of toothpaste, and your personal toothbrush is probably a lot better than the options the hotel provides.
- Disposable razor: If you use it, bring a fresh razor with you to ensure you’re ready at all times.
- Hair cream/Styling cream: Unless you’re using drugstore brands, you probably won’t find the specific styling creams you use. Bring them to avoid spending the extra money to buy a new jar or bottle.
- Deodorant: Most people have a preferred brand of deodorant which you’ll need during the day.
- Make-up: You’ll want to look your best on your vacation. So, if you wear make-up, bring some with you.
You should also consider bringing a couple of towels, even if they are provided by your hotel. If you go to the beach, you won’t need permission to take the hotel’s towel with you.
As for footwear, you will need a few options, but don’t overdo it. Bring flip-flops for casual footwear and a pair of sneakers. If you plan on going partying, consider bringing one pair of more formal shoes if you feel it’s required.
It helps if you have a general itinerary of what you’re going to do during your vacation. You’ll be able to bring the appropriate footwear. Don’t forget to bring two or three pairs of socks if you need them.
4. Electronics and Small Appliances
When packing for your vacation, you might focus on your outfits and other general items and forget the electronics. That means your phones, chargers, and other small appliances that you use on a day-to-day basis.
Here is a small list of the most common electrical devices you may need to take with you:
- Smartphone charger
- Tablet/laptop and charger
- Travel iron
- Hair styling tools (try to only bring one)
- Power bank
If you take any prescription medication on a regular basis, you’ll need to take enough to get you through the entire vacation. Make sure to bring your prescription to avoid any issues with TSA when flying, especially if they are strong drugs.
During the springtime, many people also suffer from hay fever and hives. If you suffer from these allergies, bring your allergy medication so that you don’t waste time looking for it when you reach your destination.
Additionally, you might consider bringing a few of the following over-the-counter medications, just in case you need them:
- Cold and flu medication
- Mild painkillers for headaches
- Sleeping pills to help you during the flight and to get over jet lag.
6. Essential Items
Last but certainly not least, you will need to pack a small bag of essential items that you shouldn’t check in. That is, keep this bag on your person at all times and bring it with you on the plane. This includes credit cards, passports, identification, and much more.
If you have any expensive items, such as jewelry or watches, I suggest that you bring them with you on the plane. This is to avoid the risk of losing those expensive items if the airline misplaces your bag (which is not that unlikely.)
Additional Things To Bring on Your Vacation
While I’ve reviewed the bare essentials you will need to bring on a spring or summer vacation trip, there are far more to consider bringing.
Here are a few:
- Sunglasses: As you’ll spend a lot of time outdoors, you’ll need to protect your eyes from the sun.
- UV filtering hair serum: You also need to protect your hair from the rays of the sun.
- Noise-canceling headphones: These will come in handy for long flights and train rides.
- Small backpack: If you have day-long excursions on your itinerary, you will need a small bag to carry your essentials.
- Cap (or hat): Headwear is especially important during the summer months.
- Dry shampoo: You may not have the time to wash your hair every day while on vacation, so dry shampoo is a great backup option to have.
- Travel pillow: If your trip involves long train or car rides, or even a long flight, a travel pillow will help you relax better.
- Snacks: For trains and car rides, snacks will help prevent everyone from getting hangry and ruining the trip.
Additional Packing Tips
Here are a few additional packing tips that will help you be more efficient when packing.
Roll Your Clothes
To save space while packing, consider rolling your clothes instead of folding them. Not only will this allow you to pack more clothes in a smaller bag, but it will also allow you to take out one item without messing up the rest. Also, pack your shoes last, with something inside them to make use of that space.
Pack Outfits Ready for Wear
You don’t want to spend your entire vacation getting dressed. So, be more efficient while packing by putting together each outfit in one roll. This allows you to pick up one roll as a full outfit and get dressed as quickly as possible.
Check Airline Baggage Fees
Even with low-cost airlines, baggage fees can be particularly high. It’s best to check with your airlines for the specific baggage weight limitations that you’ve got with your ticket. Also, check how much each additional pound of baggage will cost. Try your best to pack your bags well below the allowed limit because you’ll probably need room for souvenirs on the way back.
A handy tool for this task is a digital luggage scale. I found the BAGAIL Luggage Scale on Amazon.com for an affordable price. It’s compact and handheld, so you can take it with you on your trip. Also, the maximum capacity is 100 lb, which is well above most baggage limits that airlines will allow.
Check TSA Rules
It’s always a good idea to review TSA rules before going on a flight, especially if you haven’t flown for a long time. Whether it’s putting on a face mask or putting your liquids in specific bottles, knowing the rules beforehand will help your flight go over much smoother.
This is also important if you plan on bringing any prescription medications with you. For example, some medications (such as CBD oil) are illegal in some states and countries. The medications might get confiscated, or worse—you might be subject to legal repercussions.
Some airlines allow you to check in to your flight beforehand, reducing the stress at the airport. Additionally, many airlines overbook their flights. This means that they operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you’re late to check in, you might find that the flight is at full capacity, and you’ll need to wait.
Avoid the hassle and check in online before arriving at the airport. However, there is a clear downside to this matter: Once you have checked in, the airline will consider you a no-show if you miss the flight. Getting a refund or a discount on alternate flights is not an option once you’ve checked in online.
Confirm Your Bookings by Phone
After a long day of traveling through the airport and cramping in the economy seats of an airplane, you’ll want to check into your hotel as fast as possible. Avoid any mishaps by confirming your hotel bookings with the hotel receptionist over the phone.
If you’re arriving at hours other than the standard check-in times, inform your hotel beforehand so you don’t have to sit in the lobby waiting for housekeeping to prepare your room.
Review Your Checklist Before Leaving Home
Last but not least, after making a long list of what you’re packing and all the things to do before your trip, make sure to review the checklist. It helps to have it all written down because committing the list of everything to memory is not feasible. You’re more than likely to forget something—and it’ll probably be something you really need.
I prefer using my phone when making a packing list, but you can write it down using pen and paper as well.
Packing for your spring vacation doesn’t need to be chaos. If you’re organized about the task at hand, you can ensure that you take everything you need and then some. Make sure to abide by the rules set forth by your airline, and don’t forget to take your medications with you.
Write down everything in a list, pack it up neatly, and you’re ready for some relaxation.
- Who What Wear: How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe That Will Last a Lifetime
- TSA: Liquids Rule
- Insider: Here’s What To Do When An Airline Loses Your Luggage And How To Mitigate Travel Headaches Before You Get To The Airport
- Britannica: Why Do Airlines Overbook Seats on Flights?
- TravelingLight: What Time Is Hotel Check-In Time?