The dream vacation is booked and the whole family is excited. Whether you are setting sail on the cruise of a lifetime, a destination from your bucket list or a favourite location you’ve been a few times before, one thing must happen before you hit the road, the skis, the rails or the seas. You need to pack!

Packing is a bit of an art; but thankfully something you can pick up easily with a few tried and tested tricks. Here are th steps I follow each time I get ready for a trip.

How to Pack Like a Pro

Start Early

The temptation to leave it to the last minute is always strong but it almost always results in a stressful last 24 hours. Instead, star setting aside items you’re thinking of taking with you a full week before you plan to leave. That extra time will mean you can edit and rethink choices before you commit them to your luggage. Packing in a panic is how you end up on a beach vacation without a bathing suit. Don’t let it happen to you.

Try Stuff On

If it’s been awhile since your last vacation, chances are good that your favourite vacation staples are lingering at the back of a closet. But let’s face it, you likely aren’t the same person (or size) that you were last summer. Don’t get stuck dressing for dinner with a skirt that won’t zip up, or pants that are way too roomy, be sure to try on items you don’t usually wear, or haven’t worn in the current season.

Look at Your Itinerary

Knowing what to pack is key. Before you fill that suitcase, look at your itinerary. If your guided vacation provides a suggested packing list, believe it. Start with the “must-haves” and not the “that would be nice toos.” And be honest about what comfort means: Those really hot looking shoes might make you feel good, but are probably not going to serve you on that 4-hour hike.

Make Lists

Think lists are boring?! They are a lifesaver when you are planning your vacation! Make a list from your itinerary of the various activities you will be doing, or environments you will be in. Then make a list of the essentials to make those activities comfortable. Cross things off as you go, and discover that you can’t actually stuff your whole wardrobe into a modestly sized suitcase. I like to also map out my days and yes, you should count your underwear.  

Put Back the Extra Shoes

Don’t fall into the panic trap, which might convince you that you will need three pairs of shoes and that ballgown. Remember these two things: even the most remote destinations will have access to the essentials you may have accidentally forgotten (even with best laid plans) and if you think you need an extra pair of shoes… take it from me, you probably don’t.

Packing light is an art form but luckily one you can learn. Once you’ve mastered the basics you’ll actually get faster at it and realize you’ve combined steps or condensed your needs. I hope these tips set you on track to filling the smallest suitcase, never wanting an item you left behind and feeling comfortable on the road.