5 Packing Tips for Visiting “Home”

You know every few years (or maybe every year) expats travel back to their home country for a few months to a whole year. This is our year to go to the US to visit my family. We’ll just be there for a few months, but we leave in less than a week and I’m just starting to think about packing. Yep, I know I’m a bit behind to be just starting (at least some of you are saying that…)
One thing that I’ve noticed since having kids is that packing a suitcase has become more of an art. Packing clothes for the five of us, making sure the “I can’t live without it” stuffed animal gets in the carry on, shoes for all occasions, toiletries, etc.
Maybe you are in the same dilemma and are wondering what to pack, how to pack, etc.  Here are my top 5 tips.

1. List it.  This sounds crazy organized, and it probably is, but I list out what each person needs to take. (Note: I don’t pack for my husband, we have different tastes.) Do note that I’m packing for 4 people. I don’t make it specific, just general. Then when it goes into the bag I cross it off. That way I know what I’ve packed and what I haven’t (unless little hands help out and unpack it all for me). Because I’m a list freak, I also list out what is going in the carry-on.

2. Stack it. After I make a list I usually usually stack the clothes on my bed. I do this for two reasons. One it gives me an idea if I’ve over packed or not. Two, I can estimate how many suitcases I’m going to need.

3. Half it. I look at the clothes on my bed and I do just that. I take out about half from everyone’s pile and put it back in the dresser. I have found that we rarely wear all of the clothes that I’ve packed, so do the math. Half the clothes = more space on the return trip. Besides, the extra space is usually filled with clothes from the extended family or from the stores that we just can’t resist. You know what I mean, don’t you?

4. Stash it. I’m talking about putting a suitcase inside another one. I always do this because we tend to bring more back on the return trip than we do going there. This way, we have the empty suitcase already and we don’t have to buy another one once we are there.

5. Roll it. This is an old trick, but one that should not be forgotten. Roll everything you can. It just saves space. And don’t forget to roll the socks and stuff them in shoes.

As for gifts for the family…I stopped doing that awhile back when I realized that they pretty much had everything I could think to bring. Well, I might stuff in some Asian candy just for the fun of it….that always brings a good laugh with my mid-west family. Besides, it is a taste of “home” for my TCKs, which is always nice for them on these longer stays.

Your Turn: What is your top tip for packing? Please share in the comments below.

*photo credit: microsoft.com

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8 thoughts on “5 Packing Tips for Visiting “Home”

  1. Excellent tips. I never thought about taking half the stuff but that’s a great idea. Especially since we have a washer and dryer and The Gap, Banana Republic and Gymboree ready available!!! I pack the stuff in my room and then lock the room, my toddler loves to take stuff out of the suitcase and even more put stuff in it. I recently found half an apple in a suitcase as we arrived in our destination…. Happy packing and Bon voyage!!!

    • Oooo, lock the door. Great idea. Should have done that last weekend when I was packing for our weekend trip. Got to our location and Jie Jie had taken out her swimsuit bottoms and her shorts for her Hero Games. Apple in the suitcase…that is funny!

  2. I love the tip about halfing the clothes. I’ve just recently figured that out. If you’re going to a place with a washing machine, you really don’t need that many clothes! Whenever we’d go back, I’d be so miserable as I packed for the return trip because I’d always brought way too many clothes that we didn’t end up wearing. Ugh!! 🙂

    • Thanks Amy! I learned that trick from traveling to Germany and having to halve the number of suitcases. Another trick that I didn’t write is that I take clothes that the kids can still wear, but will grow out of soon. Those end up staying – either for younger cousins or give-away. More space available.

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