Tips for Packing for a Vacation

As you know (because I won’t stop talking about) Dave and I are finally off on our Ireland honeymoon! Traveling overseas is exciting, especially when you have gone as long as we have without a real vacation. But it can also be stressful when you consider the amount of preparation that goes into an international vacation. Once you’re passed the basics of booking a flight, hotels, etc, there’s still the daunting task of packing.

Tips for Packing for a Vacation1

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1. 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 any deodorant, underwear, etc. 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 phone charger, book, camera, etc. For the honeymoon I also did separate sections for carry-on versus checked luggage.

2. 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. Dave and I are going to Ireland for 10 days and if we each packed 10 tops, 10 bottoms, etc, we would be carrying a much heavier suitcase.

3. Carry-On Only. 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.

4. Pack Travel Size. Unless your trip is like a month, spring for the travel size toiletries. There is absolute 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 additional to the hassle of carrying around an extra heavy bag, you’re also wasting valuable space in your suitcase.

5. Make Essentials Accessible. When you’re packing, 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.

6. Dress Comfortably. Pick the most comfortable item from your suitcase and wear that on the plane. Especially if you’re going overseas or 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 anyways, so you’ll probably appreciate the layers.

What are your best tips for packing for a vacation?

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