We travel a lot. I like to be prepared so I tend to start gathering stuff to pack about a week in advance, while my husband does everything the night before. He makes me panic. Only once did I wait until the last minute and it meant giving up sleep most of the night so we could have everything ready. I might also add that it's easy to pack for my self. It's the packing for everyone else that tends to put me behind. For most trips I could pack a couple of outfits and a bathing suit and be fine. Once you have a husband that forgets stuff, and a child that needs the entire house packed, it adds time and energy to the routine. I always use a packing checklist that I've made myself over the years, but I can't seem to get him to do the same. Because he says he knows I'll have anything he forgets. This week I found a really comprehensive list for family packing at tip junkie. I think it goes a bit overboard on what you'd need it you're traveling somewhere in the US that has stores nearby, but it's a good starting point to create your own. By the way, if you have never tried tip junkie- it's a great starting point for so many needs. Take some time to browse it and I'm sure you'll learn something new. Anyone can add a tutorial so it's kind of a clearing house for good advice on a number of topics.
I remember when we were traveling to Africa and we were limited on the amount of stuff we could pack. I was lucky to have a friend that has color sense who came and watched me pack and basically told me to pick 3-4 colors and then accessorize to make outfits go with each of the separate pieces. I've used that advice over and over again. I usually choose tan, black, white and red. There's another list at tip junkie that covers packing light that uses the same type of advice. This way you can mix and match and you won't need so many different outfits. I've also fallen in love with those hand washables by exofficio so if you're in a situation where you can wash in the sink and dry overnight, you won't need so many undergarments. You can buy them direct from their website, but once in awhile, they are available at Sierra Trading Post, which often has better discounts.
We also have an array of luggage. I still can't decide on what is the perfect bag, but my favorite currently tends to be an Eddie Bauer wheeled duffle I've had for 3 or 4 years. You can stuff a lot in it without it going overweight, and usually I can put everything I need in it without having to bring too much in a carry on. It has never been damaged, and even if it does get damaged, they have a lifetime warranty on their products. They come in nifty colors other than black, so it is also easy to spot on the baggage carousel. I like to bring a back pack stuffed in my bag to use for day trips. It's rare that I actually carry my purse on a vacation.
My husband travels a lot for business. His favorite bag is a wheeled Briggs & Riley Transcend 20" carry on. Now this is an expensive bag, but it's the only one you'll ever need to buy if you're a serious traveler, because these bags are covered by a lifetime guarantee that even covers airline damage. It's also one of the lightest wheeled bags we've ever found. We've had other wheeled bags, but if you do any traveling on international flights with smaller aircraft, they seriously limit your weight allowance.
So we are heading out today for a weekend trip here in Wisconsin. Going to pack and get out of town for 2 nights. If you want to fit everything in one bag for the 2 of you, here's one last article courtesy of Budget Travel. The tips include rolling your clothes, stuffing your shoes, and using rubberbands to keep cords in check. Good luck with your next packing experience!