As a regular traveler, I’m constantly met with one important challenge: Packing. Here are some of the best tips I’ve discovered through 20+ years of travel, both domestic and international. These rules are made for trips no longer than 2 weeks. Anything longer and the rules change a little. Also bear in mind that I’m an organizational freak when it comes to traveling.
- Pack 1 outfit for each day of your trip – don’t just throw 50 shirts into your suitcase. That makes for a lot of over packing and “Ugh I don’t know what to wear” mornings. Make sure outfits can go day to night.
- Pack 2 “just in case” shirts (I’m a notorious spiller) and a few extra pairs of underwear (walking around all day = sweaty).
- Bring a few accessories that can spruce up all your outfits. A pretty necklace, earrings, and a light scarf.
- Bring two pairs of shoes you can comfortably walk in. Wear 1 on the plane, so you’re only packing 1.
- Bring only 1 pair of pajamas. (Really, who cares what you sleep in?)
- Bring 1 cross-body bag that goes with everything (cross body so you don’t have to constantly hold it on your shoulder).
- If going somewhere cold, bring 1 heavy coat that will work rain or shine. I typically go with a thick wool pea coat. Bring it, along with any other winter wear, on the plane with you, even if your departure city is sweltering, so you don’t have to stuff it in your suitcase.
- Roll your clothing, don’t fold it.
- If you’re packing boots, stuff your underwear and socks in them.
- Wrap necklaces and other jewelry in tissue paper to avoid tangles.
- Don’t forget sunglasses.
I recommend having a second personal carry-on bag, filled with the following:
- An extra pair of underwear and a shirt (if you’re checking your bag).
- Toiletries. (Bonus: putting them in your carry on will make you minimize what you bring – more on that later).
- Ibuprofen, Tylenol PM, and Dramamine (just in case).
- All electronics (camera, camera charger, converters, phone charger, headphones, iPod).
- Wallet and travel documents (Passport, visas, etc.)
- A list of all your hotels and excursions, with phone numbers and addresses, as well as the phone number and location of the nearest U.S. Embassy if traveling internationally.
And now, perhaps most importantly, what NOT to pack:
- Your whole beauty routine. You’ll look fine using a generic shampoo/conditioner combo for a few days. If you’re staying at a hotel that has complimentary toiletries, leave what you can at home.
- Expensive jewelry. Rule of thumb: If you’d be devastated if you lost it, don’t bring it. A few costume pieces will do.
- Unnecessary gadgets. I once traveled with someone who brought a toothbrush sanitizer. Seriously.
- Bulky hair appliances. Leave the straightener and curling iron at home. Check with your hotel to see if they have one; if they don’t, pack a small travel hair dryer if absolutely necessary. Better yet, check out Pinterest for cute, low maintenance hair ideas or do what I do: throw your hair in a top knot and go.
- Laptop. If you’re a travel writer or going on a working vacation fine, but if you’re just going away for a couple weeks, leave your computer. Most hotels have them, or there’s an internet cafe nearby.