As someone who has traveled extensively all over the world, I know how to pack. I am not someone who can throw two outfits in a backpack and hop on a plane for Europe but I’m also not someone who likes carrying luggage around, even if it’s on wheels. I have gone on 12 day cruises, 2 week long European vacations, and a 3 week trip to Australia and New Zealand. I will do laundry on vacation if it’s necessary but it’s not something I like to do when I’m supposed to be having a good time.
Therefore, I learned some tips for how to travel fairly lightly yet take enough clothes for a two week or longer vacation.
1. My first suggestion is to make a travel list on your computer and save it. When you travel, you just need to pull it up and adjust it for the current vacation.
2. The second thing to do is get a good suitcase (assuming you are checking one bag) and a good carry-on. I recommend using a basic pullman style suitcase in a medium price range such as Atlantic. I suggest a color other than black, because there are so many black suitcases. Don’t get one much bigger than a carry-on because if you do you will exceed the weight limit.
For a carry-on I really like an all-in-one rolling suitcase and backpack such as the Sierra Carry-on Rolled Backpack. It can be taken apart into a small suitcase and daypack if necessary or it can be zipped together and thrown on your back when you need to catch a flight.
Make sure you purchase luggage that can all be hooked together and rolled if necessary.
3. When traveling internationally, I read years ago that there are ways people in other countries tell who the American tourists are by the following:
• White tennis shoes, especially if both in a couple wear them
• Matching outfits such as “jogging suits” or color-coordinated department store ensembles
• Fanny packs
• Shorts are rarely worn in many cities around the world. I was in Paris in July. It was a holiday (Bastille Day) and I saw no shorts the entire week.
4. Put together a travel wardrobe based upon two neutrals plus one bright color. I like to pack black and tan/khaki clothes plus a few pieces of another color such as red. I used to try to pack all black clothes but I would get too bored with the lack of variety and end up buying clothes in my destination. However, I do recommend taking clothes in which every top matches every bottom. This allows for endless combinations.
5. I pack so that 90% of what I packed could be washed out in the sink and hung to dry if necessary. That means no-iron light-weight polyester blend clothing for travel. If you want to spend a lot of money and plan to do extensive traveling, you can purchase clothing from a travel company such as Magellan’s. I’ve never found it necessary to do so, although I considered it.
The following is a recommended travel wardrobe. This would be the most I would take for a two week vacation. I would likely take less.
Depending on the length of your trip and your destination, a basic wardrobe, if chosen around the red and beige combination, would consist of:
• 2 Black pants, one casual and one dressy
• 1 beige/khaki pants (I take actual cotton khaki pants)
• 1 black skirt in your preferred length
• 1 basic black dress which can be worn day into evening
• 1 black jacket and/or light sweater
• Several black, red and beige tops in various sleeve lengths
• I always take a no-iron all-purpose white, gauze-like white blouse
• Shorts in basic colors in appropriate for season and destination
• Black tennis shoes for long distance walking
• Basic black walking shoes (such as skimmer flats with a good insole)
• Basic black dressier shoes for evening
• Sandals if necessary
• A black or red raincoat. I always took a pullover type water-proof raincoat that I could carry in my daypack and have at a moment’s notice.
• A small purse for evening that can also double as a make-up/toiletry bag in your day pack.
• Lingerie, sleepwear and socks which can be washed and hung up to dry.
• I always take a knee length microfiber bathrobe because it took almost no space and it could be thrown on for unexpected room service interruptions and the like.
• Nice accessories such as a fabulous necklace and pendant, scarf or belt
• Pack anything you need for the specific vacation such as a bathing suit, winter coat, water shoes, etc. But if you don’t need it, don’t take it.
6. Take the following toiletries and necessary supplies:
a. Toiletry-sized shampoo and conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste
b. Minimal make-up
c. Good moisturizer with sunscreen (I like Lubriderm spf 15) – It has multiple uses.
d. I always take a travel-sized steamer and hair dryer with a current adapter.
e. When I travel internationally, I take a couple of bath puffs or sponges because washcloths are not always available.
f. Shampoo-sized bottle of good laundry detergent (concentrated) for use in the sink. You can use hotel shampoo too.
g. If you think there will be washers and dryers at your destination, take Purex all-in-one washer/dryer cloths.
h. Light color nail polish and nail polish remover pads (in individual packages)
i. Sunscreen, bug spray
7. Pack everything you can in collapsible plastic travel bags. These are great, especially for dirty laundry.
8. Pack everything you would need for 2 full days in your carry-on, especially if you are going on a cruise. That way if your luggage gets lost, stolen or delayed you could still go on with your vacation. Make sure everything in your carry-on can be washed in the sink and dried overnight.
9. Lay out everything on a bed several days before your trip. See how it fits in your suitcase and then take out what you don’t need. I’ve rarely regretted not bringing something but I have regretted bringing too much when I wanted to bring something home with me.
10. Lastly, limit souvenirs. Digital photos, a digital journal, real postcards sent to family and friends – These items will make memories to last a lifetime.