Packing for a vacation can be stress inducing enough to make you need to take a vacation. You want to make sure you have enough clothing, but at the same time, you don’t want to go to the extreme and take half of your closet. I know people on both sides of the spectrum. I have a dear friend who takes a 5 day trip and checks at least one, if not two, bags so she can have a selection of clothing, handbags and shoes. My husband, on the other hand, has a strict “no check” policy. Meaning you have to travel with carryon luggage for a 10 day trip to France. (It can be done – he’s even “taught” some of my friends how to do it.)
I believe there is a happy medium when packing for your trip. No packing rules work for everyone. If you’re willing to lug a lot of luggage your only concern is luggage weight and cost to check. If you’re like me, and travel with a luggage tightwad, here are a few tips that might help.
First, know what attire your vacation requires. Beach based trips require a lot less that a longer European vacation with Michelin starred restaurants. Are there clothing restrictions anywhere you’re traveling? For example, when visiting the Vatican you need to cover your shoulders and knees. At the Grand Palace in Thailand, no shorts or mini skirts are allowed.
Next, think about what you really need for your vacation. Then make a list. Edit that list, and then edit it again. Do you really need those red and blue striped pants, or would a pair of solid pants be better? You can wear many items more than once; people you’re traveling with shouldn’t care if you repeat outfits. If you’re traveling around you’re probably with different people from day to day.
If you’re taking a beach-based vacation, take less than you think you need. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home with almost half a suitcase of clean clothes. You generally need less than you think you do.
One of my first packing decisions is selecting shoes. I like shoes, I like them a lot. I’d prefer to take a pair of shoes per outfit. That just doesn’t work for traveling with carry on bags. I’ve found that you can generally make it through most trips with 3 pairs of shoes – athletic, flats or sandals, and heels. If I’m going to take boots, I wear them – they take up a lot of room in the suitcase. If I ever have enough room in my suitcase, I admit that I sneak in another pair.
Try to color coordinate your clothing. If you can mix and match, you automatically have more options. I generally take neutral slacks because I don’t like wearing skirts. It’s easy to make your outfit more interesting with a colorful top, scarf, or jewelry. Take fewer bottoms than tops. You can generally wear pants more than once. The same isn’t true for tops as they generally bear the brunt of spills or sweat.
Pack clothes that resist wrinkles if you can. Not only are they easier to pack, but they look better right out of the suitcase and can frequently be worn a second time.
If you’re travelling somewhere cold, take layers. They are smaller and easier to pack, and they have the added bonus of being able to coordinate with other items.
Packing is a very personal thing. No amount of advice will deter you from packing something you believe you can’t live without on a trip. If you want to tote everything you may ever need with you on your trip, do so. But know that you can lighten your load. In many places you can either have laundry done or do it yourself, particularly underwear and quick dry clothing.
Know that if you make the effort to lighten your load, and you realize that you forgot something you need, all is not lost. In many places you can buy what you need – a shirt, snorkel gear, toiletries or an umbrella. Just pack, and enjoy your travels. Who knows, you may just find that perfect pair of shoes.