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A few days ago, the Pospichal family took a vacation. In reality it was a 24-hour trip…to a breed association banquet…to a city that is a little over two hours from the ranch. But any time Barry is away from the ranch for more than one feeding, it’s considered a vacation.

I’m not a big fan of traveling.

It’s a lot of work for the matriarch of the family.

A couple of years ago the four of us traveled to Cancun for a friend’s wedding. The night we left, I frantically packed last-minute items. Then I stowed our luggage into the Expedition in a precise pattern to maximize the space.

Meanwhile Barry watched M*A*S*H and clipped his toenails.

But I’m not complaining. At least he was busy and stayed out of the path of my packing tornado.

It turns out that whether it’s Cancun or Kearney, the franticness is the same. For this overnight trip I spent two hours ironing everyone’s shirts and jeans. Then I packed a suitcase for me and the boys. Then the boys decided they were old enough to pack their own suitcases. I knew I was in trouble when Bo asked where he could find his stuffed elephant. The same stuffed animal that I stowed away in a memory box in 2013.

When we got to the hotel the boys unpacked. They had packed stuffed animals and blankets and games and toys but not one single item of clothing. Luckily, I am one of those people who overpacks. It was February in Nebraska. I came prepared. A blizzard was in the forecast and I did not want to be stranded in a motel room with two boys and stinky socks.

I counted on Barry to pack his own clothes. I even managed to keep my cool when he shoved one of his freshly-ironed shirts into his suitcase.

If your family shows cattle, you’re not a stranger to packing. Cattle shows involve a lot of overnight trips. My family takes our time making sure show supplies and feed are carefully stowed in the trailer.

But what about packing for the humans in the family?

Here are a few helpful hints I’ve learned:

1. Buy a quality suitcase. I tried to get by with a cheap suitcase. The zipper broke. The wheels wouldn’t work. The fabric looked worn and ragged after only a handful of trips. Then I bought TravelPro luggage. Oh, my goodness! This luggage has logged thousands of miles and still looks brand new. And the luggage is royal purple. Let’s just say my luggage always sticks out on the Omaha baggage carousel. Most of the bags in Nebraska are either black or Husker red.

2. Use packing cubes. These are amazing! I like to pack each day’s clothes in a cube. I have them in every size and four colors (each member of the family has a different color of cube). The colors are helpful if we share a suitcase. Not only are these cubes great for travel, they are also a wonderful way to store clothes during the “off season.” The cubes stack neatly on closet shelves. And if you really want to see something impressive, roll your clothes instead of folding them. The clothes are less likely to get wrinkled and you can get a lot of items in one packing cube.

 

3. Create a packing list of commonly packed items. I made copies of my list and keep it in a sheet protector in the front pocket of my suitcase. Not only is it handy for packing, it’s also helpful when it comes to remembering what to take back home. And if you don’t want to create your own list, you can purchase a pad of ready-made lists:

 

 

4. Keep a separate set of toiletries in a bag in your suitcase. I have a packing cube full of toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, aspirin, fingernail clippers, deodorant, and a hair brush. And make sure to put these inside a Ziploc bag so if they leak, they don’t get all over your suitcase. This packing cube of toiletries always stays in my suitcase and is ready to go in case of an emergency.

5. Always keep a few gallon-sized Ziploc bags and a trash bag in your suitcase. The Ziploc bags are great for transporting items that may leak or are wet. My boys love to swim so we always have wet swimsuits to bring home. And the trash bag? It’s perfect for your dirty clothes. In my household this trash bag usually sits in front of the washer for at least one week after our trip. Hey, at least the bag keeps the clothes together and not strewn throughout the house.

    6. Pack a portable charging station. Interstate Batteries Charge & Go is my favorite. Not only will it jump a dead car battery, it can power all the electronics that our family brings with us on the trip. And it can come in handy at the show stall, too.

    Oh, and how did our “vacation” go?

    We came.

    We saw.

    We returned to the ranch just in time to do evening chores.

     

    For more packing advice, check out the post “Top Ten Stock Show Prep Must-Do’s.”

    Click HERE to get a PDF copy of this post for future reference!

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