The phone rang, waking me from a deep sleep. My college-aged daughter called from the emergency room three hours away. As I rushed to dress, I threw some items into a carry-on bag, just in case I had to stay overnight. I’m so glad I did. It was four days until I was back home. Since then, I have kept a small suitcase packed and ready for many reasons.
This year I was reminded again why it’s essential to keep your suitcase packed. A trip to the Emergency Room led to my emergency surgery and week-long stay in the hospital. Because my carry-on bag is always packed, I had everything needed for my stay.
Having a carry-on bag already always packed makes good sense. Here’s why:
Emergencies – Emergencies can occur at any given moment — family illness, death, or an unexpected hospital stay. Having my suitcase packed saves me the time, hassle, and stress of trying to figure out what I need to take. It ensures I won’t spend days without something I need because I didn’t have time to pack.
We read all the time about the need to have an emergency preparedness kit. My suitcase already contains most of the personal essentials needed in case of an emergency. If my house caught on fire or if there were some natural disaster, I could grab my suitcase and have a portion of what I need. This wasn’t my reason for keeping a suitcase packed but it is an extra benefit of having one ready.
It Saves Time – It’s a pain to have to pack and unpack. Even with my packing list, packing still seems to take too much time. And I am always worried I will forget something. By having most of my things already packed, I can just grab the few remaining items I need and go.
Travel More Often – Because it takes less time to get ready for a trip, I can take advantage of last-minute weekend getaways. Now that we are empty nesters, my husband and I are traveling more. Not having to pack each time makes these trips easier and more enjoyable.
Added Assurance – With aging parents in two different states and adult children living in other parts of the country, I want to be ready if they need me. Having my suitcase already packed gives me the assurance that I can do that.
What I Keep Packed in My Suitcase
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I always keep enough packed in my bag for a
Cosmetics & Toiletries –
- Travel-size bottles of all my skincare and haircare products
- Makeup – foundation, blush, eye shadows, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss
Underwear & socks.
Pajamas, Light-weight robe, & Slippers.
One pair of exercise pants & t-shirt.
A small notebook and pen.
What’s Not in My Suitcase
These are the items I add to my carry-on bag before each trip:
Vitamins & Medicines – I don’t pack my vitamins or medications ahead of time. Since I have these already sorted into daily dose containers, I can add the container to my suitcase before traveling.
Clothes – I don’t pre-pack any other clothes than the ones listed above. They wrinkle when left in the suitcase too long. Besides, different trips require different clothing. It doesn’t take a lot of time prior to each trip to choose my outfits and add them to the suitcase.
Miscellaneous items I need for a trip – These items change depending on the kind of trip I am taking.
I’ve tried many bags over the years, and my favorite is the Travel Pro MaxLite 21″ carry-on bag. I can pack everything I need for a four-day trip. I like that it even has a place for my laptop and writing supplies. It’s lightweight, and I can lift it easily, even when fully packed.
When I return home from a trip, I check the travel bottles and refill them as needed. I wash the clothes that stay packed and return them to my bag. I double-check to ensure everything is in my suitcase and ready for my next adventure.
For more travel tips check out the Must-Have Travel Prep Guide for a Perfect Vacation.