Packing for Your Cruise Vacation: Organization for Small Necessities
Some might say that being this organized is a little over the top, but there is nothing more frustrating than being disorganized while living in a small and tight space.
I despise a messy cabin, and it makes it difficult for the cabin attendants to clean with so many odds and ends laying around. It also takes a long time to round all these items up when packing, and it never fails I forget one or more necessities and have to go buy it in port or settle for what I can find on board. Luckily, I've come up with a great way to organize my smaller items while cruising (or taking any vacation, for that matter!).
Plastic Organizers Are the Way to Go
I keep the majority of my items in a larger organizer that's always stocked and ready to go (restocking at the end of each trip when I unpack), while I put my jewelry in a smaller organizer. That way, when I go to pack for the next trip, all I have to do is add my makeup items and toss the organizers into my bag.
If you are tired of fumbling around to pull together all the smaller items for your cruise, or any trip, you will love this hack for keeping everything ready to go and organized, both at home and on board.
Convenient Cruise Packing and Organization
As much as I appreciate the many drawers and cabinets that many cruise cabins provide, I still find myself searching for my smaller items, whether it in be the top drawer of the desk, the side cabinet by the mirror, the bathroom medicine cabinet, or the nightstand. Before coming up with the idea to use these organizers, I was forever in search of my glasses or could never remember where I put my nail file. My makeup was in one bag, my sunscreen in another, and I know I brought a corkscrew, but which bag or drawer is it in?
I had a vision of an easy and pre-packed "grab-and-go case" that housed every small necessity that I normally bring on a cruise. Everything inside must also be TSA-approved so I can take it in my carry-on luggage, since I only travel with a carry-on and a backpack as my personal item. Another nice thing about this is if TSA wants to check any of these items, they can do so by pulling out the entire case very easily.
I went to a few craft stores and looked at divided storage boxes, found a few I felt could work, and starting sorting and moving things around until I created what I had envisioned—the perfect cruise-essentials case!
Divided Cases Make Cruise Organization Easy
I chose an organizer with decent depth, movable dividers and secure latches. I bought it in two different sizes:
- for my shorter trips (11 x 8 x 3 inches) medium
- for cruises and longer trips (14 x 9 x 3 inches) large
I use the large organizer to hold everything from sunglasses and towel clips to chargers and floss. See the second photo below for the full list. I guarantee you will be impressed by how much you can fit into this organizer, not to mention how much easier it will be to stay organized for the duration of your trip.
I later found a one (9 x 5 x 1.2 inches), in the same design, for organizing my jewelry for the cruise. Cruises are a fun place to put your most fashionable foot forward, at least on formal nights, so fun jewelry is a must! But keeping track of it all can be a pain, and it's never fun to unpack at home only to realize you've lost your favorite necklace. This organizer has saved me from just that situation on more than one occasion! small
Bonus: This small jewelry case easily fits into the stateroom or hotel-room safe.
Bonus Packing Tip: My Favorite Carry-On Bag
As I mentioned before, we always cruise with only a carry-on bag. While I'm show-casing cruise packing from a woman's point of view, I have added below how my husband also travels with just a carry-on, utilizing his ultra-light trail backpacking pack.
I have five different "Vera Bradley" brand bags I use for weekend getaways and travel and have found these to be the best combination for cruise packing, as they hold the most contents, while still fitting nicely into most airline overhead compartments and under the seat:
- I love the as a catchall. Vera Bradly Grand Traveler Bag
- The is perfect for my personal item. Vera Bradley Iconic Campus Tech Backpack
- For our money, lip balm, ship card, and credit cards, my husband and I each wear the very comfortable, stretchy, adjustable . I leave my purse at home and my husband leaves his walled as well. We have never found a reason to have an actual purse or wallet on any cruise to date and this way is the safe way. Spiebelt
I'm not picky about the patterns for the pieces I buy, and the options with Vera Bradley are many, so I can almost always find great deals on my bags on Amazon or on discontinued patterns from their website directly.
My favorite feature with the Vera Bradley line of bags is that they are made of super durable and light-weight quilted fabric that is washable and molds easily to the overhead bin space of the plane and under the seat. I stuff them as full as I can get away with!
We never want to run the risk of lost luggage prior to cruising, so between our savvy packing hacks and traveling to the port one day early, we arrive stress-free. Our light packing preference and the small cabin space are what possessed me to find ways to pack and organize all the above items in a simplistic manner, while fitting everything easily into carry-on luggage.
Three Weeks in Europe With Only Carry-ons!
If you found these packing tips for small items helpful, check out my article about cruise cabin organization for shoes and larger items.
Any Other Helpful Suggestions?
This is my personal list, but I'm open to hearing suggestions of other helpful items or tips that you might have too!
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Debra Roberts