One of the things that I had to learn to do well when I started traveling was packing! It’s amazing how much bigger everything looks when it’s stuffed into a suitcase (and how much smaller the suitcase looks when it’s full.) But if you want the travel experience to be a good one, packing your stuff well is one of the most important things to learn before you go out exploring the world.
It is actually surprising how many people pack things that they don’t ever wear on their vacation. I’d rather have to wash something because I didn’t have enough of it than lug things around that I’m never going to wear on the trip. To avoid this, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before you set out to packing:
• Where am I going to be, primarily? (If you’re hiking through the Andes there is probably no need for a hair dryer!)
• What kinds of experiences am I going to be having? (Formal dinners, casual tours?)
• What multi-purpose pieces do I own?
• What toiletries do I absolutely need? (remember, they’ll most likely have a drug store in almost every city where you can buy soap and the like – totally worth it to keep the suitcase light)
• Will I have access to laundry facilities?
• What weather am I likely to encounter?
Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, you’ll be pretty prepared to pack everything you need, and nothing you don’t. I’m going to add a sample packing list below, along with my thought process on each item. This list can be adapted for climate or area pretty easily.
• Color scheme: Decide if you’re going with a black or a brown theme. It will make it easier to plan for accessories and shoes.
• Bottoms: Two good pairs of jeans and a pair of comfy slacks. That’s all – for 7 days you really don’t need much more. I know that not everyone likes wearing clothes that haven’t been immediately washed, but trust me, this is what jeans were made for!
• Tops: You’ll probably need five, adapted for whatever weather you’re going to.
• Undies & socks: One per day (these are small, so you can bring enough for the entire trip)
• Dress: Just one, and try and make it the silky kind that doesn’t wrinkle much
• Shoes: One pair of walking shoes and one pair of “easy” shoes (sandals in the summer, ankle boots in the winter, whatever you’re really comfortable in) Wear the easy shoes to travel and pack the walking shoes (unless you’re going to Iceland and your easy shoes are sub-zero boots like mine were, then wear the walking shoes and pack the boots, with your socks rolled up inside, of course)
• Purse: I usually pack a small purse, like a swing-pack, and I put my stuff in it when I get to my destination. This leaves me with only one carry on and a lot more “arm-space” when I travel
• Accessories: I usually pack a scarf or two. I almost always leave my jewelry at home. Honestly I don’t even miss it, and it’s unlikely to get stolen or lost if I don’t bring it. Sometimes I’ll bring a single necklace, bracelet, ring set and just wear it everywhere. I love my Tiffany “Loving Hearts” collection. Nice and simple and not a tragedy if I lose something, as they’re not very expensive.
• Toiletries: I’m very minimalist here. I always bring deodorant, my contacts and drops, q-tips, lotion, and small bottles of shampoo and conditioner. I sometimes bring makeup, just foundation and an eyeliner. You could go even more minimal and just buy what you need when you get to your destination. You probably won’t get your brand, but if you don’t mind that, it can make travel very convenient not to have any liquids to travel with. I never bring things like sunscreen, I always buy them at my destination.
If you pack well, you should be able to get all of these items into a carry-on sized roller back. Then bring your computer back with computer and purse items as your personal item and you’re set to go, no checking luggage required. I post this as a positive because our checked luggage was lost when we went to Rome a year ago. The Colliseum without a shower and with dirty clothes was not pleasant at all!
Hopefully this list helped you to segment out what you need, as well as what you won’t. There are some travel destinations, of course, that warrant their own set of packing rules. Iceland is the perfect example of that, my packing strategy was very different when I went to the land of fire and ice. But, if you’re going to a typical destination, these tips should give you a really good guideline of how to pack for the ride.
What do you think? What are your must-haves when travelling? Until next time friends, travel joyful!