Organization Hack: Packing

I know that I have already done a couple of packing posts (Disney Packing List and Top 3 Packing Tips), but I wanted to do another one to show you my entire packing process in depth. Packing is what is on my brain right now anyway as I am leaving in the morning for our annual Trades of Hope Inspire Retreat in Orlando.  I am beyond excited about this trip. I have actually been prepping for packing for this trip for about a month.  If you remember from my 3 Tip post, my number one tip is to create a list.  I actually have a generic pack list that stays in the note section on my phone.  It includes all of the essentials that I pack with me on every trip I take.  It includes things like make-up, deodorant, phone chargers, pajamas, and other essentials that I always need.  When I am planning a new trip, I copy that list and then begin to add to the bottom all the things that I need that are specific to that particular trip.  I will continue to add to this list up until the day of a trip as I think of things. Then I begin to plan out my outfits for each day of the trip.  For this particular trip, I need at least 2 outfits per day.  We have sessions and training during the day and then big events in the evenings that require me to dress differently.  At the bottom of my list, I will begin to list the day of the week and everything I plan to wear that day.  Then as the day of departure gets closer, I will begin to lay those outfits out on the floor in my closet.  This includes all articles of clothing that I will wear on that particular day down to the under garments, shoes, and jewelry.  This helps me to visualize everything and insures that I don’t forget something important like a strapless bra for a strapless dress.  I don’t immediately put everything into the suitcase, though.  I will leave it there for a day or two as I continue to look over it and make changes as needed.  I actually laid out everything for this trip yesterday and am using today to make sure I don’t want to change anything up as I thinking about it more.  Here is an example of what my closet floor looks like right now with everything laid out waiting to be placed in the suitcase.  

Once I am satisfied with every outfit, I will take a picture of each pile.  This will help me to remember what jewelry/shoes I planned to wear with each outfit.  When that is done, I begin to bag things up using Tip #2 from my top 3 tips post.  I like to use gallon zip lock storage bags for this. For example, I will put all pairs of socks into a gallon zip lock bag in order to keep them all together.  I will do the same for underwear, bras, and camisoles.  Next I take all pieces of jewelry and place it in my Thirty-One Jewelry case (retired) (alternate option).  From there, I begin to add the clothes in neat piles to my suitcase keeping all parts of the outfit together (pants and top).  At this point everything that I am going to wear is in the suitcase.

Tonight I will begin packing all of the other things that I need to take with me.  This evening I will place a large Thirty-One cosmetic bag (retired) (alternate option) on the counter in my bathroom.  As I wash my face and prepare for bed tonight, I will place my soap and other parts of my R+F nightly regimen into that bag as I finish using them. Then in the morning, as I complete each step of my morning regimen; I will place those items in the bag too. Packing it after using it helps me to not forget an important step in my skincare routine.  I will also hang my Thirty-One travel bag on the knob to one of the drawers to my vanity tonight.  Then as I put my makeup on in the morning, I will place the pieces I use into the bag as soon as I am done with them.  Packing as you use it really helps to ensure you don’t forget any essential items.  The same goes for hair tools.  As soon as I am done drying my hair, my hair dryer will go into the suitcase.  Then I pack my flat iron and curling wand after placing them in a heat resistant pouch.  I use a circular pill case to sort out all of my prescription medications that I take daily.  Then I will add it to a small medicine bag (similar) that also has things like ibuprofen, eye drops, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, etc. that I may need (these go in my carry on bag). I use a Thirty-One Mini Zipper Pouch to hold hair ties, bobby pins (in case I pull my hair up), clips, and a headband for washing my face.  Once all of that is in my suitcase, it is ready to be closed up.  

It may sound like a lot of work, but it will keep you organized and make things so easy when you get to your destination.  Being prepared allowed me to spend today writing and getting my hair and nails done, instead of running around crazy trying to pack.  It is totally worth the time it takes to prep ahead.  

Anchored and Organized,

Disney Packing List

As I have mentioned before, my family and I have been to Disney World many times over the years. It has been a favorite for us for many years.  I feel like we are kind of pros at it by now.  I always have people asking me what they should pack for Disney. I know that before I headed to Disney for the first time with my kids years ago, I was all over Pinterest looking for tips and tricks and what to pack.  I read blog after blog of all the things that people suggested that you bring.  I remember making this massive list of things that I needed to pack before we went on that first trip as a family. Our suitcases were filled to the max.  Then, I ended up carrying this massive backpack loaded down with so much stuff that I was miserable at the parks each day.  My back and shoulders ached every day from lugging that heavy thing around.  What I have come to learn over the years was that I really didn’t need as much stuff as I packed or that I was carrying around.  Yes, when your kids are younger, you are going to need more things.  I totally get that, but you don’t have to bring 10 million things just because you think you might need it.  I have compiled a list of the essentials that I think you really need, but just know that you have to figure out what is best for your family.  Not all of these are things that you will carry with you to the parks.  Some are things that will be helpful in the hotel. I have come to learn that less is more. You really don’t need everything that everyone suggests you bring.  I promise! 

1. Anti-Friction Stick (Amazon)

This is the #1 thing that I make sure we have each trip besides sunscreen.  When I first started using one of these, Johnson and Johnson carried something called Band-Aid Blister Block, which I loved. You can no longer find it in stores, and it is ridiculously priced on ebay and Amazon now.  However, any kind of anti-friction stick will work the same way, like the Dr. Scholl’s one above.  I didn’t learn this trick until after we had been to Disney a few times.  If you have never been there, please note that you are going to be walking for miles every day that you are there.  Your feet are going to hurt and they are going to get blisters.  That first Disney trip, we were all wearing Band-Aids all over our feet because we had so many blisters.  Since I discovered the blister block, we never get blisters when we go anymore.  You just rub it all over your feet and toes on the top, bottom and sides, put on your socks and shoes, and then you will be good to go.  This stuff is amazing.  

2. Tennis Shoes (Under Armour)

I will tell you that my opinion is that the best shoes to wear at Disney are athletic tennis shoes with socks.  Some would argue with me, but I have found no other shoe that works better for all the walking you will be doing. You do not want to wear shoes that will easily come off on rides like flip flops.  You want a shoe that is supporting your feet and ankles, that won’t cause blisters (don’t go with brand new shoes that have never been worn), and that are comfortable. There are lots of water rides where you will get soaked and your shoes will get wet. Plus, it rains daily in Florida, even if only briefly, and your shoes will get wet. No one likes walking around in wet shoes every day. I personally bring a back-up pair of shoes with me that I keep at the hotel in case my shoes aren’t dry by the next day.  That is totally a personal preference, though. These  Under Armour sneakers are my favorite right now.

3. Extra Socks (Amazon)

For the same reasons as listed above, make sure that you bring extra pairs of socks.  Your socks will get wet! I typically pack 2 more pairs that the number of days we will be there. You can choose to bring them with you in the park if you are someone that hates having wet socks like me or you can just have spares in your suitcase in your hotel.

4. Ponchos (Dollar Tree)

As I mentioned, it always rains in Florida! I don’t think that there has ever been a time when we were at Disney that it hasn’t rained at least once while we are at the parks.  Just this past weekend, it rained 3 days that we were there. I highly recommend that you go to your local dollar store and buy multiple packs of the cheap ponchos.  Trust me, you don’t want to have to buy a super expensive poncho in the parks! You have two options when it comes to dealing with wet ponchos. You can either bring zip lock bags (or plastic grocery bags) to put the wet ones in when you no longer need them, or you can buy multiple and just throw the used ones away when done with them.  Either way works.  I do not recommend that you bring an umbrella.  There are just too many people around to carry an umbrella, and it just adds weight to your backpack. 

5. Sunscreen (R+F) and Face Stick (Amazon)

This is right at the top of the list with the anti-friction stick. They probably tie for first.  You are in FLORIDA, the SUNSHINE state! You will need sunscreen.  It is essential to apply is every morning before you leave for the parks, reapply it at lunch, and then reapply it again in the afternoon. Sunscreen is ESSENTIAL! I cannot stress this enough.  I recommend an SPF of 30 or higher.  If you use anything lower, you will get burned, especially if you don’t reapply. My favorite sunscreen is Rodan + Fields Essentials Body Sunscreen.  It has a light, airy feel to it.  It doesn’t go on thick and it doesn’t make you feel slimy. I prefer to use a face stick sunscreen for my kids’ faces.  I do not recommend spray sunscreens for a couple of reasons. First, they tend to leak and get all over stuff in your bag.  Second, they do not provide as good of coverage as liquid sunscreens do. You will miss spots with a spray.  Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your ears and in the part of your hair.  Those places are prime spots for sunburns that people often forget.  

6. Cooling Towels

Disney has Mickey and Minnie cooling towels that you can purchase in the parks.  They do cost a little more but I highly recommend them. I have seen others recommend the Frogg Togg Chilly Pads (Amazon), which are good, but I do not like them as much as the ones that you can get in the parks.  I don’t like the feel of the Frogg Togg (Amazon) ones or the fact that they get super stiff when they aren’t wet.  No matter which you get, I recommend that you have at least 2 of some kind of cooling towel. It is HOT in Florida! You can get over heated, even in the winter months.  These towels really help to keep your body temperature down.  My kids absolutely love using them.  As you can see, my oldest loves tying hers around her head to keep her head cool, and my youngest likes it draped around her shoulders.  Make sure that you bring them in a zip lock bag so that you can store them back in it without getting your bag wet.

7. Hand-sanitizer clipped to Back Pack (Amazon)

You will need hand-sanitizer.  When you eat lunch or grab a quick snack in the parks, you will want to wash your hands. Clipping it to the outside of your bag makes it much easier to locate whenever you need it.  I promise you that it will be often! 

8. Band-Aids (Target)

A small thing of Band-Aids like this one is all that you need. I do recommend this flexible fabric kind as well.  They hold well in the most tricky of spots even when wet.  If you need anything larger or more than this package contains, there are first aid stations in every park, and they are extremely kind and helpful.  We had to go to one when my nephew was stung by a bee, and the staff there was amazing with him.  

9. Portable Charger (Amazon)

This is essential! I do not recommend that you bring a camera with you to Disney.  It is just one more bulky, heavy thing to carry and keep up with. Trust me, I carried around my big heavy camera for years. It isn’t worth it. This means that you will be taking lots of pictures with your phone. You will be checking ride wait times on your phone.  You will be handing your phone over to little ones for entertainment in long lines. Trust me, you will be using your phone a lot so your battery will get low and you will need to charge it.  A good portable charger is essential! This is the one that I have, and it works great and holds a charge for a long time. 

10. Multi-port USB wall charger (Amazon)

If your family is like mine, you have multiple devices that you need to charge at night including your portable charger from above.  It is nice to have a multi-port USB wall charger that you can easily use to charge multiple devices. These work great to charge phones, watches, portable chargers, and tablets all at once in your room over night. 

11. Sunglasses with Straps (Amazon)

Again, Florida is the sunshine state, and you will want to have your sunglasses with you at all times.  I highly recommend that you also have a strap on your sunglasses so you can easily just let them hang around your neck as you go inside or are waiting in line inside somewhere.  The strap is also good for rides to keep your sunglasses from flying off.  

12. Travel Tissues (Amazon)

I always bring one thing of travel tissues because it is inevitable that someone is going to need one every time that we go.  I have told you before about my hypersensitivity to sounds and sniffling is one of those sounds that makes me nuts.  I like to have tissues on hand for anyone I hear sniffling. 

13. Stroller Fan (Amazon)

If you have small children and you will be using a stroller, I highly recommend that you get a clip on stroller fan.  It will help to keep your little one cool. How cute is this lion one?

14. Ribbon or Scarf for Stroller

Another thing that you will need if you are using a stroller is a brightly colored ribbon or scarf that you can tie around the handle of the stroller. This will allow you to easily find it in a sea of strollers when you park it for a ride.  My brother-in-law even put his favorite college flag on his stroller which could be spotted a long way away.

15. Breakfast Foods

When we lived close enough to drive to Disney, I always packed breakfast foods, plastic utensils, and bowls. When we fly to Disney, I will go to a store nearby and grab a few breakfast items.  I have found that it saves time and money if we eat breakfast in our hotel room before heading to the parks.  You could have yogurt, cereal, milk, muffins, pop tarts, fruit, etc. to eat in your hotel room.  

16. Small Convertible Backpack (Vera Bradley)

For the things that I carry into the park, I like to use a small backpack purse.  I do not like using a big regular sized backpack because it is cumbersome and can get heavy.  I also like ones that can be converted into a crossbody bag as well.  This one from Vera Bradley would make a great bag to take to Disney.  

These things are the things that I think are essential for a successful Disney trip.  Now, some may say to pack many other things including snacks and water.  I have done that many times.  However, it is more stuff to carry and my kids inevitably would rather have a Disney snack over anything that I brought anyway. The other things that others suggest are all great but I don’t think that are absolutely necessary. Now, use what I have suggested as a guide based on your family’s needs. These are just the things that work for my family. Obviously, you will need to pack essentials like clothes, toiletries, swim suits, etc. These are just the things that I think are extra that will make your trip smooth, easy, and fun. After all, it is the place where dreams come true!


Top 3 Packing Tips

Happy May Day! Can you believe that May is here already? I know that the first official day of summer is not until late June, but May has always symbolized the beginning of summer for me.  I think that is because I grew up in the south where school always got out before Memorial Day for Summer Break.  The weather here still hasn’t made up its mind on spring or winter.  We had temps in the 30’s Monday morning and then the high tomorrow is 86 degrees.  Either way, we are headed to Florida in the morning for the big cheer competition where it is certain to be H.O.T. I don’t know if I am ready to be back in the heat of Florida.  I know that it hasn’t even been a year since we lived there, but I very much enjoy not having those crazy hot days.  Since we will be cheering and visiting my favorite characters over the next few days, this will be my last post until next Tuesday.  

Today I want to talk about organization for packing since that is what I am going to be doing today.  We have traveled a lot over the last few years, and I think I have gotten packing down to a science.  They key is to be organized. Don’t wait until mere hours before you leave to start the process. Don’t be a procrastinator. Also, don’t just throw things into a suitcase. You are bound to forget something that way.  You have to think it through and plan it out ahead of time.  Here are my top 3 tips to keep you on track and put-together when packing for a trip.  

1. Packing List

The one thing that helps me most of all is a list.  Whenever we are going on a trip whether it is just a few hours down the road in the car or states away on a plane, I start making a packing list several days before we leave.  I keep this running list on my phone so that whenever I think of something that we need to bring, I have the list easily accessible to me wherever I am.  Nothing is too inconsequential to put on the list, including underwear.  I even have my list divided into family member.  Then I list every single thing  (and how many) that family member needs to bring.  This also makes it easier for when my kids are helping pack. I just cut and paste their part of the list into a text message for them, and then they can easily bring me all of the items on the list so that I can add them to the suitcase. Having a list really does make packing easier, quicker, and more organized.  

2. Zip Lock Bags

My second tip for organized packing, especially with kids, is to use gallon zip lock bags to organize each outfit for each day of the trip.  This is something that I started doing for my kids the very first time that we ever went to Disney World when they were really little, and I still do it now that they are older no matter where we go.  First, I will plan out what outfit each of us will wear each day.  Then I start making piles for each day of the trip.  I put everything we need to get dressed for that day in the pile (pants, top, underwear, socks, etc.). When my kids were younger, this even included the bow for their hair that day. Then I use gallon zip lock bags to keep all of those things together in the suitcase.  I label each bag with my daughter’s name and the day of the week she will be wearing it.  Each child will have a zip lock bag for each day of the trip. This is a little time consuming on the front end, but it saves so much time during the trip.  All they have to do is pull out the bag for that day, take it to the bathroom, and get dressed. This method also ensures that we don’t forget any essential items.  I also pack another zip lock bag with their pajamas for the trip and another one for extras (extra underwear, socks, or even an extra outfit) for those emergency situations.  If the trip involves swimming, there will be a separate bag each for bathing suits, bathing suit cover-ups, and flip flops. This not only keeps you organized, it also really helps to save space in the suitcase.  I just line up the bags in rows in the suitcase. 

3. Travel-Sized Toiletries

My third tip is to use travel-sized toiletries and keep a supply of them at your house.  You should never take full sized bottles of things like toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, shaving cream, contact solution, etc. That is just a waste of space.  I keep a plastic box in the bottom of my linen closet that I have tons of travel-sized items in so that we can replenish our travel bags at any time.  This keeps me from having to make that emergency trip to the store at the last minute to buy stuff. Each of my girls and I have a small travel cosmetic bag that pretty much is only used for travel and stores all of their travel essentials.  In each bag we keep a travel toothbrush and other travel sized toiletries.  All I have to do is tell them to bring me their travel bags and everything is already packed. I just double-check that they aren’t low on anything and replenish it from the box as needed.  Again, this just makes packing faster and easier.  Now, if you don’t want to spend the money to buy travel-sized shampoos or your favorite brand doesn’t come in travel size, you can always get the travel-sized containers and fill them up with your faves.  That is totally a personal preference.  Just don’t pack full sized bottles.  Here is a bonus tip that I read on a blog somewhere years ago that I still use now. I have a special scented body wash that I only use when traveling.  It is one from Bath and Body Works that I love, but it isn’t the one that I use everyday. The reason I do this is because that smell now reminds me of family vacations and trips.  It is like a treat every time I open the bottle while we are away. It just floods me with memories each time, and I love it.  It is forever a scent that I will associate with great memories!

Those are my top 3 tips that will help you to pack quickly and easily all while still being very organized. I am now off to get my family packed and ready to leave tomorrow.  I will see you all back here next week. Pray that I survive my first major cheer competition and the heat of Florida! I have no clue what we are in store for.  One thing is for sure, we will be making more great family memories.  

Anchored and Organized,

Whirlwind Travel

What a crazy day I am going to have today and tomorrow! My kids are out of school AGAIN today so that’s always fun! No, really, I am kidding. I barely even saw my kids yesterday. They stayed locked up in their rooms or in the basement for the majority of the day. They only came out when I forced them to come and eat lunch.  If I don’t tell my kids to eat, neither of them will.  I’m not kidding.  They don’t realize on their own that it is lunchtime and that they should eat.  How is that possible? They will be home alone while I’m out doing something.  When I get home I will ask my youngest what she had for lunch (you know I have to keep track of what she eats) and she will say that she hasn’t eaten anything.  When I ask her why, she literally says to me, ”You never told me to.” Are you serious? She’s 11 years old.  Isn’t that old enough to know that you need to eat lunch? The sad thing is that my almost 15 year old is exactly the same, and they both do this ALL THE TIME. Does anyone else have kids that do the same thing? Tell me I’m not the only parent whose kids don’t know when they should eat. It’s insane!

Sorry for the side track there! My days are going to be crazy because my oldest and I are flying to Florida today for a gymnastics meet in the morning and then are flying back home as soon as it is over tomorrow afternoon.  On top of all that, I am fighting a mild case of the flu! Fun for me! It’s really the weirdest flu ever. I had the aches, chills, and fever for less than 24 hours and then have just had a cough (no congestion/sinus issues) and a scratchy throat since. I actually feel fine other than being a little tired and the tight throat, but my voice is all jacked up so I sound like I have the plague. I don’t know if it was because I had a flu shot or that I got Tamiflu the day I got sick or a combination of the two, but this is certainly the mildest and strangest flu I have ever had. 

Because we are only going to Florida for less than 24 hours, we are planning to just take a carry on bag. Now, those of you that know me personally know that I do not pack lightly.  In fact, I pack insanely.  I usually have at least 3 small bags or a giant suitcase that I can barely lift when I travel.  You can imagine that it is difficult for me to pack my daughter and me both into one carry-on bag.  I am very proud to say that I did it.  I am not even taking my hairdryer! <gasp> I know! It was hard, but I have still been sticking to not washing my hair everyday, so I don’t need it.  I am going on 5 months of washing my hair every 3-4 days! I washed and dried it this morning so that I wouldn’t have to wash it tomorrow.  That cuts out shampoo, conditioner, and other products I use when I wash my hair. I only packed one outfit, which was very hard for me.  I typically pack one outfit for every day I will be gone plus at least 1 (sometimes 2) extra outfit. That is all huge for me! The only thing that I am concerned about is the darn liquid rule! I NEED my R+F products and so does my daughter!  Thankfully, I have a travel size that we can share, but the major issue is that I need mousse for her hair for the competition, and I cannot find a travel size of that anywhere! She has so many short baby hairs that fly all over the place and curl up when she is hot that have to be slicked down for competition, and there is a certain kind of mousse that is the only thing that works. I guess we may be “Ubering” to a store when we get there tonight to get some and then throw it away for the trip back.  It’s such a waste! I am heading out in a few to brave the icy roads to look in a couple more places, but my hopes aren’t very high. Wish me luck! Other than that, I think I managed to get all of the other liquids between us into one quart bag each.  I really am proud of myself for getting everything we need into one small suit case. Of course, she will also carry on her backpack with all of her stuff, and I will be carrying my favorite Trades of Hope bag (see below) with my computer and stuff as my purse. With the blog and my small businesses, I really need my laptop with me all the time. Thankfully, it is a small, compact laptop.  I am dreading going through the airport security already.  Having to pull out my laptop, bag of liquid, shoes, and everything else should be interesting.  When my daughter flew to Texas with my husband a couple of weeks ago, security patted her down and she was super uncomfortable with it. I hope that doesn’t happen to either of us this time. I love going to places and we travel a lot in this family, but I really don’t like the actual act of traveling.  I wish I could just blink my eyes and be there in an instant. The packing, the security, the stuffy plane full of germs, the motion sickness, the cramped seats, trying to find the right gate…all of that is just not fun for me. Unfortunately, that all comes with it and we are stuck doing it today and tomorrow. 

Well, that is about all that I have going on here for the next two days. I am going to try really hard to write my post for tomorrow about our February Book Club book, Left Neglect, because I really can’t wait to share my thoughts on it with you. It really stirred some things in me and made me think. Hopefully, I will have time to get it done. Until then…

Anchored and Rambling,