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15 Tips on Planning and Packing for Your Summer Vacation

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Hawaii
Photo Credit

Now that April is upon us, we can finally see the speck of light at the end of the academic tunnel. Hold on, kids, we’re in the home stretch — and although this particular period of the school year is often rife with standardized tests and grading, there’s plenty to look forward to.

In between studying, you may notice the windows full of sunshine and stores full of bright colors and shorter hemlines. Summer vacation is in sight, people! Onward, ho! Read on for tips on scoring a cheaper flight, lighter luggage, and a smoother trip this summer!

Airplane
Photo Credit

Booking the Flight

First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that prices for airline tickets fluctuate in the same manner that all consumer products do: based on supply and demand. All airlines feed their booking statuses into the same systems, and use the information from these systems to adjust prices accordingly. Tickets to Vail, Colorado selling particularly well this week? Expect a price increase within days. Conversely, if a flight isn’t selling, the fare will continue to fall until ticket sales pick back up.

Here are five tips you should apply in your search for a cheap airline ticket:

1. Be flexible by +/- 3 days. This is the easiest way to save money. Search flights with the “flexible” and by “+/- number of days” so your results will show you the price difference between, say, flying Tuesday or Friday. You may be surprised at how much prices vary!

2. Book at least 3 weeks in advance. Last-minute flights are usually more expensive, so this is another easy way to save money.

3. Fly on a low-traffic day. It is usually cheapest to fly on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

4. Check the common search engines such as Orbitz or Kayak, but definitely don’t stop there. Check a couple lesser known, alternative sites, like STA Travel, which provides student discount travel deals. Then check official airline sites — you can go straight to Delta, American Airlines, etc. for lower prices on occasion, depending on where you want to go.

5. Check secondary, smaller airports in the area. Sometimes it may be actually more convenient for you, as well as cheaper, to fly in to the smaller airport!

Suitcases
Photo Credit

Packing Your Bags

Packing your bags for a summer vacation can be difficult, but it’s a lot easier if you’re organized! Here is my strategy: first, make a list of every item you need to bring. As you place it in your suitcase, draw a little square next to the item on your list. Then, take your list with you on your vacation so you won’t forget anything there! As you repack each item in your suitcase for your trip home, place a little checkmark in the box.

Here are five more tips for strategic packing:

1. If you have bulky but necessary clothing items, don’t pack them — wear them on your way to the airport. This will save you lots of suitcase space.

2. Don’t fold your clothes; instead, roll them up. The result is more space and no wrinkles!

3. Aside from a blow dryer, the only hair styling tool you should bring is a flat iron. That’s because it can straighten, crimp, AND curl hair.

4. Each article of clothing you bring should work in at least three different outfits. This is a little tricky, so spend time figuring it out! Exceptions can be made, i.e. a formal dress is a formal dress no matter what you pair it with… and most likely you won’t wear the same formal dress twice!

5. Bring underwear and socks for every day of your trip plus 1/4. So, if your trip is 12 days, bring 15 pairs of undies and 15 pairs of socks. Some days have multiple activities that require multiple showers (i.e., snowboarding all morning, shower, formal lunch, night swimming at the beach, shower), so you want to be prepared.

and lastly…

Please Don’t Forget

1. The chargers for your camera, cellphone, or laptop. You will be very sad if you do. Also, bring extra batteries for your camera if it often runs out, and keep your extra battery charged at all times.

2. Your glasses. It’s not like you can quickly run into Target and grab a new pair.

3. Your swimsuit. You spent weeks searching for the perfect one for your group holiday, decided it was worth the ridiculous pricetag… but since you forgot it, you have to wear a subpar $30 number from Walmart. This is a really frustrating theoretical scenario for most girls.

4. Retainers, acne regimes, or any other medical routines you need to apply regularly. Ditto for prescription medications.

Thoughts?

That’s it! Now I want to know – do you have any travel planning tips? What items should everyone remember to bring on vacation? What sweet destination will you be vacationing at this summer? Study hard, play hard…

Posted on on April 3, 2010 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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27 Responses to “15 Tips on Planning and Packing for Your Summer Vacation”

  1. 1
    April 3rd, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Great tips! Makes me want to go somewhere sunny! Oh..Im doing an awesome giveaway on my blog.. five winners!!

  2. 2
    April 3rd, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Your passport! Especially if you’re travelling out of the country!!

  3. 3
    April 3rd, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Good tips! My family is going away on a spring break trip to the mountains, so this is incredibly useful!

  4. 4
    April 3rd, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    these are some very helpful tips you have here, but one thing which you deffently forgot to mention is bring your passport/and or drivers license for idenification! it would be a bummer to get to the airport only to have to turn around because you forgot your id, trust me thats happened before. although i really do appriciate your tips, i shall have to keep them in mind for my vacation to disney this summer! :)

  5. 5
    April 3rd, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I always forget a razor, but thankfully you can buy disposable ones for pretty cheap. Same for toothbrush/toothpaste.

  6. 6
    April 3rd, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    this is great!

    you should definatley do an article on what to bring as a camp counsoler for the summer or a number of different jobs. All summer I’ll be out in the wilderness teaching and looking after kids and also having FUN in town.

  7. 7
    April 3rd, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    The best thing I ever did before a trip is check out tripadvisor.com. This website saved us from staying in a super shady, run down “hotel” in FL and we ended up staying in an amazing, cheap place right on the beach! It also gives you real reviews of some of the best things to do and see wherever you’re going!

  8. 8
    April 3rd, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Nice article. I recommend onebag.com for tips on packing light, it’s really helped me and I travel a lot

  9. 9
    April 3rd, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    me and my friends are going for our annual roadtrip, so packing heavy is really no problem (in the past), but now that we’re bringing more people in the trip, we’re def gunna have to pack lightly. so we decided that we will use..wait for it… SPACE BAGS! and bring a mini vacuum cleaner). theyre so cool u can pack as much as u want,then just suck the air out, then tadahh! more room!! =)

  10. 10
    April 3rd, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Put your heavy stuff in your carry-on bag. Your checked bag has a weight limit, but the carry-on doesn’t!

  11. 11
    April 3rd, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    This post excites me because it reminded me that summer is SOOO close! Thanks lol.

    I would suggest not bringing too many shoes (which I know is hard for A LOT of us). I usually cut down my shoes from 10 – 6, and I usually only end up wearing 3 or 4. Ensure that they not only look good with your outfit, but they are practical and comfortable to wear for longer than 10 minutes.

    Bring tampons with you! You’d be surprised how expensive they are at some destinations! lol.

  12. 12
    April 3rd, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    This is fantastic advice! Australia is just getting into the winter months of the year, and I have a trip to Bali booked in a couple of months! The perfect summer escape during the cold months! :)

    I agree that TripAdvisor is a fantastic resource, and I will be doing some more research on packing.

    I’ll probably bring clothes that can be worn during the day, and dressed up at night :)

  13. 13
    April 3rd, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    also, make sure that you buy the proper electrical converters for your electronics! i spent spring break in greece and fried my ipod…:(

  14. 14
    April 3rd, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I’m going to a college summer program this year as a high schooler- for 6 weeks would you have any idea of what to bring?

  15. 15
    April 3rd, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Great idea Katkat! Space Bags literally save my life when I travel! I am a clean freak and I have to take my own pillow and blankets with me where ever I go. If I just pop them in a space bag, I can stick them right in my suitcase and still have tons of room for clothes and everything else!

  16. 16
    April 3rd, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    awesome post! just booked flights 2 FL. Passport is definitely a must-have if flying. nice choice in aircraft photo even tho its a waterbomber..they are pretty sweet!

  17. 17
    April 4th, 2010 at 7:14 am

    oooh i love this!!
    i have a year abroad coming up and i’m already panicking about luggage allowance for a year away!! great tips here!!

    Charlotte
    girlnextdoorfashion.wordpress.com

  18. 18
    April 4th, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    The best tip that i have gotten in packing for trips is to keep a similar color pallette for your outfits so a lot of things match. That way you wont end up wearing a black dress with brown shoes, etc.

  19. 19
    April 4th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Nice post- I’m loving the recent ‘what to pack if your travelling to…’-
    I’m going to be working at a summer camp & travelling after- any tips for what to pack. Also I’m totally stuck for what type of bag to take- rucksack or suitcase?
    If you could create in a post about US travel packing, that would be awesome :)
    (I’m from UK if that makes any difference?)

  20. 20
    April 6th, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I needed this :P I’m going to on vacation with my friends in a couple of weeks!

  21. 21
    April 6th, 2010 at 5:11 am

    I think the packing list is a little excessive… Personally I wouldn’t bring undies and socks for EVERYDAY PLUS 1/4…! Leaving a little extra room in the luggage is always good in case you want to bring home some shopping and souvenirs from abroad.

    And the key to packing is, lay everything you plan to bring out, take half of what’s there, bring twice the money. Most likely you can work out whatever clothes you have in your bag, and if you don’t have enough, you can always shop and dress like a local.

    Sourcing out a way to get your laundry done at the holiday destination is always a good idea — it’s cheap to get ‘em done in a laundromat at a developing country (i.e Southeast Asia or South America), and it’s also easily done in a youth hostel.

    Finally, vaccinations and vitamins are a girl’s best friend.

    Good article, and happy travels everyone.

  22. 22
    July 24th, 2010 at 1:33 am

    These tips were MAJOR helpful. I leave for Hawaii in 10 days and I found all of these tips awesome!!

  23. 23
    June 16th, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks for the ts! Very helpful…I’ve got two trips planned in two weeks time, so these are great.

  24. 24
    April 10th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    This is helpful, another great place to look is Fashion Travel Girl. Nots of tips and packing lists that are helpful too!

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