August is the official halfway point through summer. Have you made the most of it? Taken it easy? Spent some time at the beach? Gotten the perfect tan? What about a vacation? Summer really is the perfect time to get some well-deserved rest and relaxation. With the kids out of school and beautiful weather, there’s no better time to take a trip. Unless you’re planning a stay-cation, however, a vacation means travel. Whether your plans include a week on the beach in Hawaii, or a simple weekend trip, you will be travelling. Getting ready for your trip can be a daunting task, so here are some tips to help you organize your luggage and get your vacation started off right:

Start with a Plan

Getting your vacation started off on the right foot is going to take a little bit of planning and preparation. Before you travel, you should put together your itinerary, including flight numbers and times, reservations, phone numbers, addresses, etc., so that you have it with you. Be sure to make a copy for a friend or family member so they know where you are in case of an emergency. You should also research the conditions for your trip. Knowing ahead of time what the weather and other conditions will be like will help you to plan out what to pack. Finally, make a checklist of items that you will need so you don’t forget anything.

Get Ready to Go

There are a lot of loose ends to tie up when you leave town. Here are some things to remember:

  • Contact a friend or family member to take care of your pets or water your plants while you are gone.
  •  Contact the post office to have them hold your mail for you.
  • If you are travelling abroad, you should contact your credit card company to let them know, where you will be. There is nothing worse than having your credit card account frozen while in a foreign country.
  • Clean up your house. You probably won’t feel like it with everything else you have to do to get ready, but coming home to a messy house is never enjoyable, especially after travelling.
  • If you are travelling by car, make sure to get a tune-up and check the tires and fluid levels. You don’t want your vacation to end abruptly on the side of the road.

Organize Your Luggage

Yes, there is a right way to pack your luggage, and no, just stuffing things into your bags at the last minute is not the way to do it. According to the pros, people who travel frequently, there are a few things that you can do to keep your bags organized and maximize space.

  • Don’t just fold your clothes and put them in your bag. After you have folded your clothes, you should roll them up. This will actually reduce wrinkling and will allow you to fit more in your suitcase.
  • Make use of travel sized toiletry items.
  • Put heavy items such as shoes at the bottom of your suitcase.
  • Shoes are heavy and take up quite a bit of space in your luggage, so choose pairs that multitask. You should also wear the pair that is heaviest when travelling on a plane.
  • Pack enough clothing for your trip, but no more than 3-4 days’ worth. You can always do laundry at your destination.
  • Pack clothing that matches everything.
  • Bring along a small first aid kit with the basics.
  • Make sure you have an easily accessible bag with your wallet, identification, snacks, things to entertain yourself, and anything else you will want during the trip.

Unpack Immediately

Time flies when you’re having fun. You probably don’t want to think about this part, but your vacation will be over sooner than you know it. When you get back home, unpacking your luggage is probably the last thing you want to think about. However, it’s always nice to have it done and over with instead of putting it off until later. When you are done with your bags, you should put them away as well. Suitcases make excellent containers to put other items inside of when you store them.  If you are an infrequent traveler you can always store your luggage along with other seasonal items in a self storage unit.