Packing for vacation terrifies some people. I tend to do it in less than an hour simply because I travel so much. Here are some basic things to keep in mind:
Make a list of exactly what you need. Try to do this over a few days. You’ll be amazed at what you forget at first (deodorant? shoes?) Once you settle on a list, save it in the computer. You can use it in future years.
Before you put anything in the suitcase, lay everything out in one space. Once you see everything laid out, start subtracting. Unless you are an experienced packer, you can probably get rid of at least a quarter of what you plan to take. Seriously – you don’t need it all. These people don’t know you. They won’t care if you wear the same sandals 3 days in a row.
Never put anything in checked baggage that you couldn’t bear to lose or that you couldn’t survive without. I know this from experience.
Always have a carry-on that includes basic clothes for at least a day or so. You can always pick up toiletries, but you don’t want to spend your first day on Maui with no bathing suit.
If traveling abroad, pack medications in your carry-on in the original bottle (I cannot emphasize this enough).
Read the TSA regulations on what you may place in your carry-on. You don’t want to lose stuff at the checkpoint.
If you are traveling as a family, mix the family members’ clothes in each suitcase. That way, if one bag is lost or delayed, everyone has something to wear.
If you are traveling to several destinations (or stopping en route), have separate bags or areas of one bag for each destination. That way, you don’t need to unpack everything in each place and if you just have an overnight stop on the way, you don’t need to dig in every suitcase to find pajamas.
Unless you are traveling in the deep wild (like when I went to Antarctica), you can always get something that you forgot or that you find you need. Yes, you may pay a bit more, but life will go on. You don’t want to carry your medicine cabinet around Europe.