Your Worst Packing Mistakes


We all want to be ninjas at packing.  Especially if we’re packing for our kids, too.  Here are some really common mistakes of mine that make the entire process stressful.

1.  Forget to check the weather situation

For our first anniversary, my husband and I went on a vacation to Washington, DC.  It was fun, but would have been a lot more fun if we had checked the weather and not frozen our butts off.

2. Have no idea of what you will do day-to-day

The prospect of needing something and not having it will cause #3 and possibly #8.  And you won’t look your best or will have to go shopping unexpectedly.  Bad.

3. Pack too much of the wrong things and not enough of the right things

Yes I do need 4 pairs of virtually identical flip flops, but I forgot underwear.  Again.

4. Run out of your tools (suit cases, Ziploc bags, etc)

Oh, remember?  That suitcase’s zipper ripped right off the last time we used it.  Did we replace it? No.  Whoops.  FAIL.

5. Pack stuff you don’t love

There is something wrong with me.  When I pack for Christmas, I inevitably believe that I will love to wear sweaters and pack them for daily wear.  I don’t wear them at home because between all the dishes and kids, they just don’t mesh well for me.  But when I pack for travelling, I become very stupid about what’s real in terms of my fashion preferences.

6. Start way too late

For me, gone are the days when 15 minutes and an empty bag complete the packing process.  I now pack for myself and several children, so I require approximately 37 years to pack for an overnight.  That’s an exaggeration.  However, 4 hours is the fastest I’ve ever realistically packed JUST FOR MY KIDS for an overnight, and that was when they were older and easy (no spit-up, predictable diaper patterns, no baby food).  Recently, when we had a TRIP with a variety of weather needs and fanciness needs and other people taking care of kids and a lot of HOOPLA– I started TWO WEEKS ahead of time planning and figuring everything out (including hiding the clothes I wanted to pack).  I am well aware of the seemingly RIDICULOUS nature of that statement, but we had everything we needed and it was one of the least stressful experiences to date.

7.  Use a “system” that’s incompatible with your personality (notes, lists, winging it, etc)

It’s pretty clear that if I ever winged anything, our house would burn down.  So that doesn’t work for me.  But I have very sweet, competent friends who would lose their VERY MINDS if I came at them with the packing list I have saved on my laptop.  Use what actually works for you.  If what you use doesn’t work, make a change.


The first time we traveled with our first child, I pretty well cleaned out all of her dresser drawers.  I was convinced that she would NEED every single onesie we owned.  Unsurprisingly, my husband did NOT enjoy packing the car and it was really hard to find everything we actually needed during the trip.  When we go fishing out in the middle of nowhere, I pack pretty heavily.  Otherwise, I know that we can probably make do or, as a last resort, make a trip to a nearby store.

9. If it’s a long trip, still try to pack enough clothes for the whole time, even though there’s convenient laundry services available

Not only will you have trouble getting it all in your suitcase and car, but you can look forward to wading through a sea of laundry when you get home!

10. Go shopping at the last minute

Does anyone ever have time for this?  This is 100% guaranteed to make my stress shoot through the roof.

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