Packing to go traveling? Let me tell you a story…Several years ago, I took a bus tour of Spain. The literature informed me to pack light as we would be carrying our luggage up 3 to 5 flights of stairs each night. So I did, pack light, that is. Everything for three weeks travel went into my daughters rolling school backpack plus a day pack over my shoulders. When the other women arrived from various locations around the USA, I began to cringe. They had large suitcases with matching small cases and luggage size purses. Boy, was I going to be underdressed. Not so! My careful planning and packing decked me out appropriately at every instance. I even had room to take home gifts for everyone. Bonus… hiking up those stairs was a cinch for me… no effort at all! Plus absolutely no extra fees for luggage!!!
Secrets of Packing Light:
- Get the right luggage. Light, rolling, fits easily in the overhead bin. Use a day pack or shoulder bag as a purse.
- Create a personalized brightly colored tag for your luggage. Tie a colored ribbon on it as well.
- Plan every detail far in advance of packing day according to the guidelines below.
- Choose 3 or 4 colors. Keep every clothing item in that color scheme to mix and match.
- Layer up from suntop to long sleeve shirt and wrap. On cold days wear several layers.
- Accessorize carefully. Accessories are small but are the details that make you look classy.
- But clothes that do not need ironing. (Crush them in your hand to see how much they wrinkle.)
- Pack tiny cosmetics and personal care items in 2 quart size ziplock bags (no more than that or you will need to check your luggage). Buy larger sizes or replenish items which you reach your destination.
- Buy beach towels when you get there and leave them when you leave.
- Wear your heaviest items on the airplane there and home again.
- Use large ziploc bags as compression bags to pack your clothes in.
- Carry a string and clothes pins to hang up hand washed clothes. Hotel soap will do in a pinch.
- Consider packing thrift store-bought clothes, then discarding them when no longer needed to make room for gifts.
- Buy tiny gifts that will tuck in among your clothes.
Planning In Advance:
Outline each day of your trip and what you need to wear for that day. For example:
- Airplane – comfortable, cold to hot, pants, walking shoes, wrap, snacks, socks for cold feet, book.
- Day on the beach – shorts, suntop, overshirt, swimsuit, towel, flipflops, hat, sunscreen, beach bag.
- Night out – skirt, light wrap, sandals, top, small hand bag.
- Cold day -short sleeve shirt under long sleeve shirt, blue jeans, socks, wrap, umbrella.
- Hiking – cargo pants or cargo shorts, short sleeve shirt plus overshirt, walking shoes or sandals.
- Elegant night – basic solid color skirt or pants, top, jewelry, wrap, heels.
- Wedding – Worth an extra suitcase to you? Yes or No. If no, then… buy a light weight, crushable, slimline dress. Add a veil or flowers for your hair. Dress your look up with special jewelry and heels. Add some color to this dress later with a change of accessories, and voila, you have your evening look as well.
Mix and Match Clothing:
- 4 solid bottoms – cargo pants, skirt or dressier pants, sun shorts or capris, cargo shorts. If room plan one more light weight bottom. Note: blue jeans, though a favorite, are heavy to pack and to carry. Consider a lighter alternative.
- 4-5 tops for layering up – sun top, short sleeve, short sleeve, dressy, long sleeve
- swim suit, crushable hat, sarong
- wraps – light weight crushable to go over everything, plus a warm weight wrap if needed to layer up. Note: sweatshirts are too bulky to pack light. Use thinner layers and pile them on if the weather is cold.
- shoes – walking shoes, flipflops, sandals, heels if needed.
- 3-4 pair undies (wash them out at night)
- 2 bras
- jewelry and accessories
Wear on the plane from the list above: long pants, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, heavy wrap, walking shoes. You can take clothes off and put them on as the climate changes, tucking them into your day pack.
Personal Care Items
TSA Quart-size ziploc bag of liquids:
- shampoo and conditioner (tiny size)
- sunscreen and lotion (tiny size)
- skin care product (buy tiny, tiny containers and put in just the amount you would need for the trip or see if you can get sample items for the product line).
- lip balm
- make-up (again go for tiny sizes, just enough for the trip)
- insect repellant (Did I say tiny size before?)
2nd ziploc bag
- motion sickness remedy
- pain reliever/sleep aid if necessary
- wash cloth & microfiber towel (or no towel)
- laundry line and 4 clothes pins
- emery board
- disposable razor
- umbrella foldable to 6 inches (or consider buying a raincoat & hat that fold into a pocket)
- night light
- addresses of family and friends at home
- spare glasses or contacts
- sewing repair kit, 2 safety pins
- for frequent travelers consider carrying a small portable water filter from a camping store
In day pack/tote (be sure everything zippers closed)
- empty water bottle (fill up after you go through inspection)
- inflatable pillow
- cell phone/camera/alarm clock
- micro flashlight
- phone charger
- tiny notebook and pen
- lip balm, lip stick
- books/entertainment (pocket-size)
- empty space for layers of clothing you take on and off as the climate changes
- foldable tote bag for extras and beach trips (wallmart has a foldable bag that crushes into a 4″ pocket).
Security wallet or small flat purse within the day pack/tote
- passport/drivers license
- airline tickets
- hotel reservations
- 1- 2 credit cards (If possible it is much better to use a credit card than a debit/credit combination card. You can get reimbursed from fraudulent transactions with a credit card; you can not get reimbursed with a debit/credit card.)
- Photos of traveling companions
- Copies of all documents
That’s all. If you truly mix and match, you will be able to look and feel great the whole trip. For men, just apply the principles and pack light accordingly.