Happy Thursday, friends! Since we’re starting to get out and about more and people are traveling again, I thought I’d republish this popular post from the archives with expert packing tips and an easy summer travel outfit.
While our family isn’t jet-setting around the globe on a regular basis, every summer we road trip it to Maine to visit family, and we usually take at least one other family vacation during the year. In addition to that, I travel a bit for work, so I’ve had to do a lot of packing over the years.
My best travel tip is to keep a master packing list on your computer. I try to update our master packing list regularly so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we go somewhere. Then I can just adjust it depending on where we are going and what we need to bring. Mine looks like this. (This is a generic version that I created to share. You can CLICK HERE for a printable, if you’d like to have it.)
When it comes to packing, I am not the most efficient packer. I subscribe to the theory that there is no such thing as over-packing. Ha! Just ask my husband, who has to carry my suitcase(s). But we happen to have an expert in our midst!
Mary Fowler is a long-time blog reader and commenter, who has traveled the globe and pretty much mastered the art of packing light. She sent me these amazing packing tips a while back and gave me permission to use them on the blog.
Here is what she said:
Mary’s Expert Packing Tips
I have traveled quite a bit over the years for both business trips and now only for pleasure, but I’ve got it down now where I can go anywhere in a carry-on — for up to a month. It’s like the capsule wardrobe but with some tweaks. Here’s my top tips:
1) Figure out your shoes first. It’s a strange place to start but I find your activities dictate your shoes. I think about what activities we will be doing and select the shoes for it. I usually take 3 pair, plus one pair flip flops for slippers/beach wear. All shoes have to be useful for walking which is why I bought Vionic flip-flops with arch support for Maui.
2) Make clothes choices based on weight, and always wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane. This makes for a lighter suitcase, and less bulk means you have space for more items. More items means more choices for outfits. Lightweight clothes are also easily layered and dry quickly if you wash them out. I’ve made some purchases targeted for traveling. For example, I have a Patagonia parka that is about 8 oz and compresses easily into my travel purse. My raincoat fits in the outside zipper compartment of my suitcase, and my hiking shoes weigh 7 oz each.
3) Don’t think in terms of outfits. Instead, choose a basic color or two for bottoms and add tops and accessories that work with all of the bottoms. Make sure the shoes you’re taking work with all outfit combos. I don’t take anything that does not interchange, and I don’t add shoes to make an outfit work.
4) Think through various possible scenarios. For example:
- What would I wear if it rains while we are hiking?
- Will I be comfortable walking in my dressier shoes if we take the subway to a restaurant?
- What’s my plan if not? Can my pashmina work with this outfit if it’s chilly?
This part takes time, but it’s worth the effort to make sure you’ve got everything covered.
5) Roll the clothes and use mesh zippered packing cubes. Ziplock baggies also work. Clothes stay compressed nicely in the suitcases using the bags and nothing is loose. I use one for underclothes/pjs/scarfs/swimsuits/misc, one for tops, and one for bottoms.
6) Invest in quick drying underwear. I take three pair — one to wear, one to wash, and one spare. I have ExOffico brand. Every night I wash the ones I wore that day in the shower or sink, and they are dry by the next day. I usually wash out my top nightly so I have most of my clothes clean and available to choose from on any day. If it is an extended trip, we visit a Laundromat every 8-10 days or so. That’s always a fun adventure in a foreign country.
7) Bring only the essential cosmetics in the smallest sizes. I don’t use a lot of products so this is pretty easy for me. I have 3 oz travel containers for my shampoo, conditioner, and Woolite. The liquids go into a ziplock for TSA. Makeup goes in small zippered case in my Baggalini travel purse. Baggalini bags are really functional, but they are kinda ugly so I put a cute small crossbody bag in my suitcase too.
8) Packing in a carry-on is, in my opinion, a huge safety precaution when traveling out of the country. (Actually anywhere when you fly.) If you have a huge suitcase you are trying to move thru airports or into cabs or trains, you are not as alert to your surroundings. You can avoid iffy situations better with a carry-on, and with a single bag, you look like a traveler and not a tourist.
I’ve got some other tricks but these are the basics that work for me. Once I got the hang of this, I found it very freeing, and I still feel I bring too much.
So there you have it, some fabulous packing tips from someone who has this packing thing down to a science. I especially love the tip to start with the shoes. I’ve been doing that ever since I read this advice, and it makes a big difference. And I’d never heard of quick drying underwear. Who knew!?!
I kind of had to giggle at #7! Of course a cute crossbody is a necessity no matter how efficient a packer you are! Says the fashion blogger…
And that is the perfect segue. Now let’s talk about what to wear when we travel.
My Go-To Travel Outfit
This outfit is from our trip to Florida in May. I don’t usually dress so casually to fly, but I wanted to wear my running shoes to save room in my suitcase, so then it made sense to wear my joggers. I wore them in Florida when I wanted loungewear.
The grey tee is a versatile basic that looks good with white or blue jeans and jean shorts, and the denim jacket kept me warm on the plane. It also worked as a topper for my daytime and dinner-out vacation outfits.
Finally, I always carry a large tote with my laptop, purse contents, and all the extra stuff we seem to accumulate when we travel. I clearly did not take Mary’s advice about traveling with a carry-on, but I’m okay with that. I still feel like I’m a much better packer than I used to be, using her tips #1-4.
I hope these travel tips are helpful. I’d love to hear from you if you have any packing tips to add, or product recommendations.
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