We’ve all been there: you sit with an empty suitcase in front of you and don’t know how to even start with the process of what to pack for your trip. Of course, there are several variables to take into account like the weather where you’re going, how long you will be there, and what kind of activities you have planned. Packing for an outdoor adventure will be much different than a city trip or beach vacation. But no matter what your destination is, there are a few things you can pack to make your life easier away from home.
Bring Only What You Need
Those dressy shoes or fancy clothes are likely not going to get worn on most vacations, so it’s best to save the space for souvenirs. The best strategy is to plan your outfits ahead of time and stay with mostly casual items that you are most likely to wear once or even multiple times. If there’s anything that you’re on the fence about bringing, like that third swimsuit, it’s best to leave it behind.
Downsize Where You Can
In addition to bringing travel sizes of soaps and shampoos, there are other areas where you can save space and pack lighter.
- Rather than bringing a stack of books on your beach vacation, bring an e-reader or download them to an app like Kindle on your smartphone.
- Use packing cubes to keep things organized in your suitcase and also save space.
- Think about what you will be doing on vacation and whether you need a pair of shoes you will only wear once…or not at all.
Pack by Outfit
It’s always tempting to keep throwing clothes and shoes into a suitcase because you just might need them, and before you know it you have to sit on it to get it zipped. Perhaps a better strategy is to lay out your outfits for each day, and re-wear items when possible so you can bring less with you. Do you have a reservation at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a special event like a wedding during your trip? If so, be sure to pack a nice outfit and shoes. If not, you are likely not to wear a fancy outfit or dress shoes on vacation, no matter how much you think you will. It’s also a good idea to invest in packable waterproof and puffy jackets to be prepared for inclement weather while also not taking up much room in your suitcase.
Plastic Bags are Your Friend
If you have a stash of plastic shopping bags, be sure to pack a couple to put dirty shoes or wet swimwear into. In case you don’t have any, a couple of small trash bags will work. In addition, stuff some resealable plastic bags into your bag or suitcase because they will come in handy to hold food, toiletries, or simply keep your electronics or other valuables dry and free of sand on a trip to the beach.
Take the Weather into Account
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a great idea to look at the weather forecast for your destination while you’re packing. That way you know to pack an umbrella or rain jacket if the forecast has precipitation, gloves and a hat for cold weather, sunglasses and a hat for hot and sunny weather, and so on. The worst-case scenario is perfect weather and not having to use the bad weather gear you packed!
Don’t Forget the Tech!
It’s unlikely you will travel without any gear that needs to be charged, plugged in, or synced. Get a pouch to keep your cords and charging devices organized and put it in an easy to reach place like in a backpack or outside pocket of your suitcase or bag. That way you can easily charge your computer in the airport or power up your phone with a power bank.
Make a List
Maybe it seems like a waste of time to make a list of what to pack, but it can be a real timesaver and save you the headache of forgetting something important. There are apps and websites to help you make your list, or you can just jot it on paper or make a spreadsheet. No matter how you go about it, a list will (hopefully) ensure you don’t leave your passport or important medication behind!