This is How We Roll… How to Pack for a Summer Vacation

Since my husband and I purchased our beach house we’ve driven back and forth between Maryland and North Carolina many more times than I ever would have imagined. With all of these trips under my belt I’ve learned quite a few packing tips that help us load and unload the car in no time. If you are driving to your vacation spot and staying in a private home, (rather than a hotel), these tips may help you too.

First, I no longer transport our clothes in suitcases, instead I use two average sized laundry baskets. The baskets stack nicely and are extremely easy to carry. When I leave for the beach I place my husband’s neatly folded clothing in one and mine in another. As soon as we arrive in North Carolina I unpack our clothes. Once everything is put away I place the empty laundry basket at the end of the bed and use it like a hamper during our stay. When we pile enough clothes into the basket we carry it downstairs and run a load of laundry.

Best of all when it’s time to go home we divide the dirty and clean laundry between the two baskets. I load the first basket with all of our clean laundry and the second with anything that’s dirty, including sheets and towels. When we get back home the clean basket heads straight upstairs to our bedroom and the dirty basket is sent directly into the laundry room.

Since everything in the basket is dirty I can just dump the contents directly into the washing machine. Typically my husband starts a load of laundry while I put away the clean clothes. This drastically reduces the time we spend unpacking.

The second packing trick is to keep a few cardboard boxes with handles in storage. I typically use a bunch of old boxes that previously held beer bottles. The key is to use a thick, sturdy box with a solid bottom that won’t break through. We keep four or five beer boxes on hand just for transporting stuff back and forth between our primary house and our vacation home.

I typically use one for food, one for sheets and towels and one for toiletries and other random items like medicine, laundry detergent, etc. When we arrive at the beach each box is sent to a specific location. The food box is dropped off in the kitchen, the linens box into the bedroom and the toiletry box heads to the bathroom.

Once we arrive at our destination different family members can simultaneously begin unloading items into each respective room thereby decreasing our unpacking time significantly. No more digging through luggage to find our shaving cream or shampoo, now everything is right where we need it to be.

The other benefit; by placing similar items into boxes we can more easily determine if something is missing. When we transported our items with luggage I often failed to notice when we forgot to pack something. With the new system it’s easy to inventory the items we have on hand and make certain that we aren’t missing anything.

Since we moved to this new system we have dramatically decreased the ‘oops’ factor. We no longer arrive at the beach and think ‘oops I forgot my hairbrush’ or ‘oops I forgot to bring toothpaste.’ We also don’t have to waste time digging around for things before we leave. Both my husband and I can search any of the boxes to make certain we’ve packed everything we need.

Since we started transporting items with laundry baskets and boxes I bet our packing and unpacking time has decreased by at least 50%. I don’t know about you, but I hate the thought of unpacking after a long, restful vacation. With this new organization method we spend much less time figuring out where everything needs to go and can get right back to relaxing.

5 thoughts on “This is How We Roll… How to Pack for a Summer Vacation”

  1. Why don't you keep linens at the beach house and buy extra toiletries and just keep them there instead of transporting them each time? Is it a rental?

  2. What beach in NC? Is this your own summer vacation home or is it a rental? Great idea about the clothes basket. Is there just you and hubby that you have to worry about?

  3. Actually we do keep towels and toiletries at the beach, but there are always dirty sheets and towels that make their way home with us. I also buy toiletries at home in MD, where I can spend the time looking for sales and using coupons. So we often find ourselves transporting those back and forth with us.

    The house is in the outer banks of NC. Right now it's just my husband and my myself, but I've told a few other folks about our transporting methods and they've used the technique with a family of four.

  4. Annnnd… it shows you how I don't read ahead much. Scratch my last comment on the AC because you DO go regularly in long car rides out of state… and to a hot state.

    Yea – I'd fix it.

  5. I really like that idea since my unpacking requires the additional step of sorting and then organizing the laundry basket.


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