How to pack a summer suitcase

5 years ago

Packing a bag is a true art. An art that is more important now than ever, what with baggage restrictions on airlines, rising fuel expenses, and the aging population (the older you are the harder it is to lug an overloaded bag through an airport). I recently took a vacation to the East coast of Canada with my husband and kids and had the opportunity to review some of the basic principles of effective packing:

  • Pack only what you really need.  The hardest things to leave behind are shoes.  As I packed for this vacation, I initially had eight pairs of shoes including: runners (tacky tourist essential), sandals, flip flops, dressy sandals, casual flats, rain boots (for clamming), heels (for that night out dancing with hubby), and of course bedroom slippers (hotel room floors are so gross).  Then I had a reality check and took everything out but the runners and sandals.  And I was fine. Really, did I honestly think I was going to go tromping through a muddy coastline digging for crustaceans?!  Ordering clams off the menu is much easier.


  • Trim down your toiletries.  Most essentials are “provided” in hotel bathrooms anyway.  DO remember a toothbrush.  Also, try not to spend too much time pouring your liquids into a travel size bottle, then placing it in a plastic bag, then digging out the bag at security, then running out halfway through the trip due to ridiculously small travel size bottles.  Such a hassle, it is just easier to check all that stuff or do without.  I brought bronzer, cleanser, mascara and eight lip glosses (they just happened to be in my purse).


  • Pack heavy items first, like hardcover version of the latest George R.R. Martin novel, shoes, and any hair accessories you may need. Then pack lighter items like t shirts, camisoles, undies, pants, shorts, maxi dress and floppy hat.  IMPORTANT: if you are planning to stay at a cottage for three days in the middle of your eight day trip, MAKE SURE you know whether or not there are laundry facilities on site when you are calculating how many pairs of undies you need to bring.  Otherwise you will be rinsing out your unmentionables in a sink and trying to get them to dry in a damp and drafty beachside cottage, then giving up and going to Walmart to buy new undies to tide you over until your departure.


  • Leave extra room for any items you may be bringing home with you, such as souvenirs, bottles of sand, a new dress or two from the Pink Tartan sample sale that just happened to be going on next to your hotel on the last day of your stay, and lawn chairs.  Seriously, we brought home two lawn chairs that we bought to sit in at the beach.


  • Don’t be afraid to buy a new suitcase to bring new stuff home with you.  It is not a failure, in fact in my books; it is a sign that the vacation has been highly successful.

Leave yourself plenty of time to pack as well.  It always irritates me when my husband, after watching me plan my suitcase contents for weeks in advance, simply chucks a pile of underwear, socks and t shirts into a duffel bag with his iPad 30 minutes before we leave.  And then has the nerve to ask me if I have room in my bag for his iPad charger.  Some people just aren’t good at art I suppose!

Yours in beauty,


This is an article written by a member of the SheKnows Community. The SheKnows editorial team has not edited, vetted or endorsed the content of this post. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.

More from living

by Julie Sprankles | 5 days ago
by Michelle Carlbert | 5 days ago
by Fairygodboss | 10 days ago
by Catherine Conelly | 10 days ago
by Sarah Brooks | 11 days ago
by Julie Sprankles | 11 days ago
by Justina Huddleston | 11 days ago
by Fairygodboss | 17 days ago