Simply put, the most important piece of travel advice is to pack lightly.
I am proudly notorious for travelling light. The challenge of this is to be prepared and have what you need, but nothing more! This is the same mentality that I strive to live in my everyday life—to enjoy my favorite things without the clutter or distraction of anything that I don’t love, use, or need.
Before you start packing for a vacation or a short getaway, determine what kind of suitcase or luggage you want to use. I generally tend to avoid the hassle and delay of checking luggage, so I try to pack everything into a carry-on bag. However, as I learned from my last flight, it’s important to find out what luggage restrictions or requirements your airline has; however, if you’re travelling in your own vehicle, then what kind of luggage you pack is not such an issue. Once you figure out what kind of suitcase(s) you're going to bring, you're ready to get started.
- What you will need and use are the first things to consider when travelling. If you’re going to a warm beach resort, obviously swimming attire is something that you will need! However, if you’re going mountain climbing in the desert or attending an opera, then you’re obviously going to have very different wardrobe requirements. Plan what kind of activities and events you will be participating in during your vacation, and then supply the necessary attire.
- Consider your length of stay and day-to-day expectations. Once you have your special/unusual occasion outfits planned and packed, think about what your regular vacation activities will include. Will most of your time be spent walking through beautiful cities and enjoying the architecture, or will you be lounging around a beach house for most of the day? Plan enough outfits for each day—one per day should be enough! (Unless, of course, you will need something different to wear for an unusual/special event planned that will require a different outfit… perhaps a visit to a night club?)
- Don't forget your unmentionables! These are some of the most vital, yet most often overlooked items! Socks, bras, panties, and pajamas are all necessities. Once your clothing items are packed (both day-to-day and special occasion attire), you can determine which of your under-things are most appropriate for each outfit or occasion, and how many of each you should bring. Because these are such important little items, I recommend erring on the side of caution and bringing several extras; because these items tend to be small, they shouldn’t take up too much room in your luggage so this bit of over-packing shouldn’t be much of a problem.
- Consider your footwear. Many people, women especially, tend to want to bring as many pairs of shoes possible—hence the old-fashioned footlocker! However, modern travel regulations certainly complicate things, which is why it’s so important to travel lightly in the first place. Shoes can be heavy, bulky, and take up a lot of room. As difficult as it may be, it’s important to limit yourself in this area. With the exception of footwear needed for special occasions, try to limit yourself to one or no more than two pairs of vacation shoes. It can be helpful to build outfits around which pair(s) of shoes will match the most outfits. These shoes should be comfortable and able to withstand a lot of walking—otherwise, they’re just a waste of valuable real estate in your suitcase.
- Edit, edit, edit. Once you have your entire closet narrowed down to things you plan to pack, take it an extra step farther and pare down your wardrobe selections. Are there any outfits than can do double-duty or clothing items that you could wear more than once? Most people tend to build outfits around tops rather than bottoms, so choose pants, shorts, or a skirt that you can wear with more than one top. This is a great way to get extra mileage out of your clothes and cut down on the weight and bulk of your suitcase. If laundry service is available during your vacation, then you can certainly get away with repeating your clothing choices.
- Accessorize sparingly. Accessories are a fun and beautiful way to personalize any outfit. Unfortunately, they can also be very valuable as well as small and easy to lose. For these reasons, I recommend severely limiting any jewelry or valuables that you bring on vacation. If you must bring your diamond earrings or gold tennis bracelet, I suggest packing them in a personal item or purse that you will keep with you at all times during your travels. Once you get to your hotel room or guest house, lock them in a safe or vault! (Just don’t forget to take them with you when you leave!) Instead, accessorize during your vacation with some beautiful scarves or wooden jewelry; it may be less worrisome and perhaps even more exciting to mix up your look!
- Pack your toiletries. This is always my last step in packing, mainly because I use all of my products and toiletries up to the moment before I leave. If you’re sticking with carry-on luggage, be sure to follow the airline’s restrictions and guidelines for packing liquids. Nearly every company makes travel-sized versions of their products, which fit easily into little sealed baggies. However, even if you’re packing checked luggage or a larger suitcase, I find that packing liquid items into sealed plastic bags is always a good idea. This contains any spills that may happen during transit, and it will protect the rest of your luggage from being ruined or soaked.
I hope that my three-part miniature travel series will inspire you to take some time out for yourself and enjoy what the world has to offer! Be sure to check out my tips for air travel!
Did I leave anything out? What are your favorite tips for packing light?
The above photo was taken by me of my cat, Fargo, expressing his disapproval of my most recent vacation plans.