(BPT) - Vacation packing is an art-form, one every mother must master if she wants her family to be comfortable and well-dressed while traveling. Running out of clean clothes, having to do laundry, or wearing outfits that are hopelessly wrinkled or don't suit the destination are all avoidable travel fiascoes. All you have to do is pack smart.
What to pack
Sure, you may be tempted to pack that sassy skirt and heels you bought but never wore, but the reality is family travel cries out for reliable wardrobe staples, like denim and comfortable sneakers.
Summer travel often involves fun in the sun – and sand – and lots of walking outdoors. Choose items that will help keep the whole family cool, such as cotton tops – sleeveless and short sleeves – and denim bottoms. Remember, light-weight knits for tops will not only keep everyone cool, they'll leave more room in your suitcase, too.
Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. has great options for your family. Their Bettina Bermuda Shorts and Naomi Capris are great for women and teen girls. Your little man can go all day and into the night in his Boot Cut jeans, while men will be comfortable and ready for anything in a pair of Vintage Cargo Shorts.
Denim is comfortable and durable, too, which means if the worst happens and you do have to use the hotel's laundry facilities, your Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. denim items will be able to stand up to some rough and tumble treatment.
Keep footwear practical and comfortable. Most family vacations involve a lot of walking, whether you're trekking from the hotel room to the beach, hiking through the woods or running around a theme park. Remember, foot health experts say that flip flops are fine for short stretches and beach trips, but not so great for lots of walking.
Finally, if you have a reasonable chance of a nice dinner at an upscale restaurant, by all means pack dressy, but pick something that you know is comfortable and looks great on you. Or, splurge a little and buy something new from one of the many shops you'll likely explore on your trip.
Maximize suitcase space
No one wants to spend too much time at the airport waiting for luggage to come off the carousel, or worse, pay for an extra bag. Minimize checked baggage as much as possible to save time and money. Often, driving gives you a little more luggage leeway, but it still pays to pack as smart and light as possible.
Once you've chosen everyone's wardrobe for the trip, start by placing extra shoes (no more than one set per family member) in the bottom of the suitcase. Place rolled items that don't wrinkle, or that don't matter if they do wrinkle – such as underwear and knits – atop shoes. Next, place folded items like skinny jeans and shorts. Always fold or roll clothes rather than just dump them in. Neatly arranged garments will take up less space and you'll be able to carry more.
If you'll be arriving at your destination later in the day or at night, be sure to place night clothes for everyone on the top of the suitcase. That way you can reach what you need without having to unpack the entire bag when you're tired.
Carry medications, eyewear and basic toiletries like deodorant and tooth brushes with you, never in a checked bag. Slip an extra set of underwear in carry-ons, too, so that if your luggage is lost, you still have essentials.
Every family member has two hands, so everyone can share in luggage carrying. Teens and older kids can handle larger carry-on's and even smaller children can be entrusted with the family's snack bag.
With the right wardrobe selections and some smart packing tactics, you'll be able to easily outfit everyone – head-to-toe - for family fun this summer vacation season.