vacation packing with intention

January 31st, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLifeStyleWardrobe

As most people start to prepare for this week’s Super Bowl parties, Mr. Lively and I are starting to get ready for our trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! We will be gone Friday through Monday for a romantic weekend trip that doubles as my Christmas and Valentine’s Day present (I’m a lucky lady!).

I have already got my passport renewed and the rest of the preparation lies mostly in packing for the trip. But rather than waiting until Thursday night at midnight (we have done that before, much to my chagrin), I decided to get on the ball days ahead.

And in true Jess fashion, I’ve decided to see if I can create a more intentional packing process to help me stay prepared, but not burdened by a heavy suitcase full of unused items.

When I travel home for Christmas for a week to see my family I usually find that I have under-packed and feel forced to wear items that aren’t really ideal. But since I’m only heading to Cabo for three days and two nights, I also want to make sure I don’t over-pack due to my excitement to be somewhere warm and tropical.

So here’s what I did today to make sure I have a properly planned wardrobe while I’m away.

The first thing I did was talk with Mr. Lively about what activities we wanted to do while we were at the resort. We debated about whether we wanted to work out while there or not. Since my running shoes and gym clothes could easily take up a decent amount of my checked suitcase, I didn’t want to bring the gear if we weren’t going to really do a workout.

After discussing the workout idea, we nixed it in favor of swimming and relaxing. I have done a great job working out very consistently all month and I think a few days off to enjoy my hard work is ideal. So out went the workout gear from the packing list.

Above you can see what we do intend to do over the long weekend: lots of relaxing, swimming, and dining.

I also checked the weather forecast for Cabo this week. It looks to be about 75*-80* with cooler nights. So I knew that I needed to prepare for warm weather with layering at night.

Then, I pulled out most of my summer wardrobe and looked at all of my options.

Usually when packing, I get about this far and just throw my favorite items into my suitcase. But the end result is usually under or over packing and a lackluster array of outfits during the trip.

Next, I started to try on each item and created my favorite looks. Above you can see the outfits that could be great for dinner, dancing, or exploring. Each one has a layering piece as well in case of air conditioning or cooler temps.

I also made sure I had an outfit to fly back to Chicago in as well as a few other pieces that could be mixed in if I feel a bit more causal during the trip.

One bonus of this step I found was that there were a few items that needed to be steamed or cleaned. Those have been put in a special pile for me to attend to in the next few days so I’m not worried about them while on vacation.

And of course, I couldn’t forget the main event: swimsuits. I had the navy polka dot bikini from J.Crew last year but find that the top is a bit precarious for my chest and is best used only when laying out. So the new orange and black suits will be much better suited to fun at the beach or pool. I got both of the new suits at a huge discount from Lands End Canvas thanks to a recommendation from Jill.

So there you have it! I feel much better prepared for anything that might come up. I plan to use this same process to pack the other peripherals for the trip as well. This will include sunnies, beach towel, books, music, etc.

Viva la Mexico!



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  • inspirational, for sure!

  • I love how your mind works, Jess! Definitely suits (no pun intended, ha!) my type-A personality. I noticed that you write out activities and pick outfits accordingly, whereas I tend to think through what we may do during our time away and pack for those things plus a few extra “just in case” options. And that’s precisely how I overpack! I need to try on items and make outfits. Oh also, Lands End Canvas is having major sales on their swimwear – just in time for our getaway next week 🙂 Thanks for sharing all your good tips! Have a great time in Mexico!

  • Oh boy! What fun! So glad you found some suits you liked and it looks like you have some fun and colorful outfits planned. Have an absolutely FABULOUS trip! 🙂

  • Totally using this method when I pack for Hawaii in a few weeks! I’m so bad about waiting until the last minute.

  • Have an amazing time, Jess! You deserve it!

  • So much fun. Have a wonderful trip. Rest, relax and enjoy.

  • Rosy

    This is a great post, I would love to see what shoes or sandals you are packing.

  • Thanks ladies! I hope this helps!

    Stephanie, I totally agree on the LE Canvas, that sale is amazing!

    Thanks, Jill!

    Rosy, I didn’t snap a pic of them alone, but you can see them in the back of this photo: – black peep toe flats, nude patent leather ballet flats, and gold boat shoes. In my prepping I also realized I don’t have a pair of flip flops! So that might need to get on the Intentional Obsession list fast!

  • oh goodness, this is awesome. intentional packing is something I definitely need to work on. Making outfits ahead of time is the way to go! Have a great time in Mexico. Cabo is amazing! Let your self relax and don’t worry about us, we will still be here when you get back!

  • Jess, thank you so much for this! I really have trouble packing and these ideas are great inspiration for me for the future. P.S. you have a fantastic wardrobe! I hope you and Mr. Lively have a wonderful time!

  • I need this! Well, not right now, but definitely the next time I go on a trip. I have that orange LEC bathing suit, I LOVE it! Actually I just love LEC in general- it might be my favorite store!

  • Love this! Nothing worse than standing in a hotel room hundreds/thousands of miles away from your closet feeling like you have nothing to wear. And if you’re walking and swimming a lot on your vacation I think that counts as a workout! So excited for you – you’re going to have so much fun!

  • wow! I LOVE seeing my favorite bloggers planning trips to Mexico!.. and that is a really good planned travel, I must remind this post the next time I travel. I hope you don’t miss the “arco de cabo san lucas” boat trip!… on a side and friendly note, we don’t say “la mexico” as “la france”. It is just viva mexico 🙂 …So excited for you!

  • CB

    Great post! Have fun and stay safe! 🙂

  • Liz

    I hope you two have the BEST time!! xoxo