What’s your trip packing style?

Are you the type who suddenly thinks you’re going to use/wear something you never have before, and can’t stand to leave it behind? Or are you more the type to pack light, potentially reusing articles of clothing over multiple days to save some room in your pack for trip souvenirs?

Your luggage packing list is ultimately a function of multiple elements:

  • Where you’re going (and specific weather/temperature conditions)

  • What you’ll be doing there (light touring or more adventurous activities)

  • What you’re comfortable with (a new outfit every day or reusing gently used clothing)

Another important consideration? The bag or multiple pieces of luggage you’re bringing with you. If you’re a light packer, you’ll have to be extra purposeful with what goes in and what you leave behind. As a best practice, wear as much as you can—your largest shoes, your coat, hat, etc. Doing this will conserve the space you have for everything else you need to bring with.

If you’ll be bringing some luggage, you’ll have a lot more room to work with. Use packing organizers to organize the space more effectively and know what’s left for anything you’d like to bring back home with you. Just realize that extra luggage makes it harder to get around on foot. If you have more luggage than arms to carry or pull it, you’ll be adding extra expenses to your trip in terms of transportation and bag fees at the airport.

Once you’ve determined what bags/luggage you’ll be bringing with on a given trip, it’s time to start identifying and organizing the items you’ll be packing.

Consider these essential items to pack:

Travel Clothing

Depending on the time of year and what you plan on doing during your travels, you’ll have to be strategic with the clothing you bring with. During warmer times, you’ll likely be able to bring more outfits using the same amount of space, as shorts and tank tops take up much less room than button up shirts and jeans. As a best practice, bring pieces that can be layered if the weather you’ve planned for takes an unexpected turn.

  • Shirts
  • Light/heavy jacket (depending on expected weather)
  • Sweatshirt/cardigan to layer
  • Shorts (if appropriate for the weather/culture you’re visiting)
  • Pants
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Shoes: a pair for walking, for the beach, for nice dinners
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Gym clothes (if you consistently work out on vacation—don’t assume you’ll start now)
  • Hat: Women’s or Men’s
  • Ladies: Dresses & Skirts
  • Ladies: Jewelry, scarves, other accessories
  • Toiletries
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to requisition most of these at your accommodations. If you’re not staying at a hotel (or with a friend/family member), get your hands on travel-sized versions of your favorite products. This is as much to preserve space in your luggage as it is to try and help you to avoid having to check a bag because of liquids! A worst case scenario? Pick up your liquids when you get to your destination.

Liquids

  • Your must-have hair products (and nothing extra): shampoo, conditioner, styling, detangling, heat-protecting
  • Toothpaste
  • Facial cleansers/moisturizers
  • Vitamins/prescriptions
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Ladies: Makeup

Related Products

  • Comb/brush
  • Heat styling tools: flat iron & hair dryer
  • Floss
  • Tweezers
  • Razor
  • Ladies: Feminine hygiene products

Carry On Luggage

Your luggage and carry on may end up being the same bag, but sometimes it’s nice to separate out the things you want on-hand during a flight. Consider keeping these things in a small backpack or bag in addition to your main luggage:

  • Computer, phone, and other devices
  • Phone & computer chargers (and all other device chargers)
  • Personal entertainment (like a book)
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Headphones with mic (in case you’ll be taking any calls at the airport)
  • Passport/ID
  • Ladies: small purse/tote with your wallet
  • Umbrella (just in case!)

Research your destination

Before you go, spend some time researching your destination. Travel books, website searches and public libraries are all good sources.

Ensure you know the entry requirements before you go. Some countries won't let you in if your passport expires within 6 months. Others require visas to be obtained before you leave home.

The expected weather patterns will influence the type of clothing you bring and the extent of rain gear and warm jackets needed. Details of local holidays may suggest some rescheduling to enjoy the celebration or avoid the crowds.

Traveling should be an adventure, so don't regiment every last detail of your vacation. Leave some days open to see where the winds will take you. Isn't it often the places off the beaten track that yield the most memorable days?

Expect something to go wrong. And when it does, tackle it with a sense of humor, and solve it with a smile. Remember, it's these 'adventures' that we remember and tell our friends about!

How to pack for your travels