Though I don’t do a ton of traveling, I make sure the trips I do make really count, including several amazing international trips I’ve had the pleasure of taking. Traveling overseas is exciting, especially when you have gone a long time without a real vacation. But it can also be stressful when you consider the amount of preparation that goes into an international travel and packing for a vacation. Once you’re past the basics of booking a flight, hotels, etc, there’s still the daunting task of packing.
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Make a Packing List
This is absolutely vital for me when I’m packing to go away. Part of it is that I love making lists and legitimately enjoy the process. Also, I know I would forget things if I didn’t make a list. I’ve definitely gone away for a weekend or more, only to discover that I hadn’t packed something pretty basic and essential. Save yourself the extra shopping trip as soon as you arrive and realize what you forgot!
For me, it’s helpful to organize my list. In one section I’ll have clothes. In another, I’ll have toiletries. In the final section, I’ll have extras like a phone charger, book, camera, etc. For big trips, I also do a separate section for things that are going in my carry on bag.
Hint: Since I’m obsessed with notepads and checklists, naturally I had to pick up one of these packing checklist notepads.
Make All Your Clothes Match
When you’re packing for more than just a few days, I recommend sticking to a particular color scheme, at least for basics. If you pack a brightly color skirt or pair of pants, you’re likely only going to be able to wear that for one outfit. A pair of jeans or black maxi skirt go a lot further and you can wear them with just about anything. For accessories, pick neutral colors so they can be worn across outfits.
This doesn’t work for all trips, but I definitely recommend sticking to just a carry-on suitcase when possible. I did almost two weeks in Europe with just a carry-on bag, as well as a week in Brazil. Did I have to re-wear clothing? You bet. But it was so much more efficient to pack only what I needed and save the time and money that goes into checked luggage. Plus this forced me to only pack what I knew I needed as opposed to packing a bunch of “just in case” pieces, which makes packing for a vacation so much simpler!
Pack Travel Size
Unless your trip is like a month, spring for the travel size toiletries. There is absolutely no reason you need to carry around two pounds of shampoo when three ounces would be more than enough. When you consider all the toiletries you have (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, contact solution, etc), you’re talking a LOT of weight if you bring the full-size containers. In addition to the hassle of carrying around an extra heavy bag, you’re also wasting valuable space in your suitcase.
Hint: Pick up one of these super easy travel toiletry kits – you’ll get your travel size bottles and carry case all in one! Plus they’re reusable, so you can use the same kit for every trip!
Make Essentials Accessible
When you’re packing for a vacation, consider what you’re going to need to get out of the suitcase first. It doesn’t make sense to have the dress you’re planning on wearing the last day of the trip at the top of the suitcase. And it would be a huge hassle to get to TSA and realize you’ve packed your passport at the very bottom. They won’t appreciate that, and neither will the people behind you in line. I always put those important documents in a separate, more accessible purse. Then I try to layer my clothing in the order I’m going to wear it.
Pick the most comfortable item from your suitcase and wear that on the plane. Especially if you’re going overseas or flying on a red eye. It also wouldn’t hurt to wear your larger items (sweatshirt, etc) so they aren’t taking up all that space in the suitcase. Planes tend to be chilly anyway, so you’ll probably appreciate the layers.
What are your best tips for packing for a vacation?
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