How to Pack for a trip ~ Short stay or Long Haul

I always prepare way in advance for a trip, usually because ours are long and extensive and we are in several different climates.    I read an article recently on how to pack a carry-on for a 10 day trip.  And I could not believe the stuff that this woman packed, 5 pairs of jeans, 7 dresses, 10 blouses, 5 pairs of shoes, socks, underwear, etc.    And though I commend her for putting all those items in a carry-on, she, in my opinion packed WAY too many clothes for such a short trip.  Unless you are the kind of person that only wears an item once while you are traveling there is a much more efficient way to pack.   And you should be more flexible in how you wear your clothing on trips, its ok to wear a pair of jeans three times and mix and match shirts, bring and or wear shoes that can double for hiking and for general everyday walking, etc.

My husband and I as you know travel a lot.  We do small trips to places like California and Vegas and we travel on long  journeys which take us away from home for a month maybe more.   These trips also entail changing airlines frequently between countries, in country and sometimes to and from home.  Packing light is the only way to travel when you have to check and re-check bags.  You do not want 5 bags when you may spend only one nite in a hotel or city.  You want the most efficient and light way to pack.  You do not want to burden yourself unnecessarily with bags of items when the reality is you might not wear 50% of the things you have packed.

Depending on the destination and the time of year, what do we pack and how do we pack?  Our efficiency can save us time, frustration, hassle and money.   Airlines charge a fortune for overweight bags, there is no need for this if you learn how to pack more efficiently.

It’s not only about the “WHAT” we pack,  but one very important thing to remember is that every airline, esp smaller international airlines have very tight weight restrictions.  If you are leaving the US and flying Business or First Class like we normally do (I admit I would not last in coach for a 20 hour flight)  than you don’t have to worry too much about weight, most airlines in those classes allow up to 70 lbs!  WOW 70 lbs you say, that’s wonderful I can pack a lot, well yes you can….. BUT then what happens when you have to travel international (inside or within)  to smaller countries on smaller airlines?  You wont be allowed to have that much weight with you, including your carry-on which on most international airlines now is a 7 kg limit (that is only 15 lbs and most bags you carry- on can weigh that much themselves)   MANY airlines outside the US now WEIGH your carry-on as well as your checked bag.  So not only do you have to be smart about your regular suitcase, but your carry-on as well.    So now lets pack smart so that we can take all that we need, and not have any hassles on the larger and smaller airlines and so that our travels will be frustration free.  🙂

Brad and I just bought two of the new super light Samsonite Cosmolite suitcases:  Yes it seems expensive but with all the new restrictions on airlines those extra lbs of weight on a suitcase can take away how much you can pack.   And we ARE NOT into paying airlines overage fees, ever!

This bag is flexible, sturdy, and only weighs a little over 4 lbs!  Fantastic!  And we have it in RED and SILVER so pretty!  🙂  And it has a 10 year warranty!

Now lets pack!  So we are going to be gone for a month, that sounds like  A LOT of clothing but really lets pack smart so that, in this case, you and your spouse or child can pack in ONE suitcase like the one above, both of you for an entire month.  You can do it… lets start together.

We always start with Packing Cubes:

These cubes are a space and time saver.  You can roll your clothes into them and you wont believe how much you can fit into each cube.  They save so much space, and it saves you time having to figure out where you packed something.  You can easily organize your things in these cubes.  And if you buy them in different colors you and your travel companion knows who’s things are who’s.  Neat!  You can put your socks and underwear in one, your tanks and bras in another etc.

So for a month I need 14 pairs of underwear (while at one of my hotels half way through my trip I will have my laundry done there, everywhere in the world it is pennies on the dollar to have your laundry done in the hotel)  (except Europe, very expensive so be cautious about what you need laundered here)  Or we have become quite fond of the Exoficcio travel underwear.  We can pack maybe 4 pairs for almost two months away.  They easily wash in the sink and hang to dry and by the next day are clean and dry and ready to go.  They are wonderful. They are soft and great for flying too they keep away the moisture and the fly “smell” you get when you are on a long flight or many flights.   They also make this kind of thing in tank tops and t-shirts. Perfect for travel and packing lightly. Here is an example of what they sell:

I will pack three pairs of light weight travel pants, convertible, UPF, quick dry.  That way I can wear them several days and if I need to wash them in the sink and they will be dry by morning.  I will pack three Exofficio DryFlite or Expedition shirts, two long sleeve two short.  That way I can wear them over my tank top or t-shirt, they keep me cool, they dry quickly and the sleeves roll up and down  if I need to be modest while entering a Temple or Mosque or church.  They do not wrinkle and they last for years to come.  And many of them also come with insect repellent on them, that is a real plus!

I will pack a GOOD pair of walking shoes, Maybe two depending on what my travel plans are,  preferably Gore-Tex for water and heat resistance.  And good pairs of socks, Probably 10 pairs, not cotton but synthetic or a blend, sweat proof and light weight.  I take about 10 pairs and then clean them about two weeks into my trip.  (I can pack my underwear and socks into ONE cube)

Next I will pack 5  lightweight tank tops I usually pack all the same color or maybe just two colors, white and black.    (I usually buy the compression tank tops or ones with the built-in bra so that I don’t have to pack a bra but if this is not an option for you than def pack one bra, wear one and wash it in the sink or have the hotel wash one half-way through your trip)  It’s best to have two because you will sweat and a month w.out washing a bra is just well.. gross. 🙂 Or you can go with these wash and wear ones that I really love:

A pair of travel slacks (or skirt if you prefer)  for dinners at the hotel, with two maybe two blouses or shirts.  Light weight and wrinkle free. Linen is a good choice because it can be dressy and if it wrinkles a bit no problem most hotels have an iron.   I have a wrinkle free dress, light weight and I have a three piece, wrinkle free pant suit that I can wear whether its cool or hot outside, with sandles or flats, a scarf to dress it up or plane, its PERFECT!  I have had it for years and it goes everywhere with me.    If  I am only wearing these items two hours an evening no need to pack more than that,  it will last the whole trip.  And there will be times that perhaps we order dinner in, or eat cheap and I wont need slacks or a dress at all.  And if they do get dirty, they can be laundered easily at the hotel.

I will pack a lightweight pair of dress shoes, or sandles depending on my destination and temperature.  I will also pack one more lightweight casual pair of shoes for walking around the hotel, or perhaps a casual day when we are just hanging out but not hiking.

One pair of lounge pants and t-shirt.

A lightweight sweater and or wrap for cooler evenings.

A scarf to cover my head if I am in an area where as a Woman I will need to cover myself to enter a temple or church.  (like Turkey, Egypt, Israel etc.)

Now if I am going on a dive trip and I am also staying at a resort, for i.e this is how I pack.  On the dive boat no shoes needed.  I pack two sarongs, three light weight cotton dresses, three bathing suits, and a bandana and or a hat to cover my head.  I snorkel so I also pack my skin, but that usually gets packed in the dive bag with my fins and mask and my husbands dive gear.

I pack a couple of pair of cute, lightweight sandles so that when I am at the resort walking around or dressing for dinner I have them.  I also pack two pairs of lightweight, drawstring linen pants, with 5 black tanks and a couple of over shirts, maybe plane, maybe with a bit of color.  I also pack a pretty scarf, some cute inexpensive travel jewelry and I am all set for my trip.

Dont forget your sunscreen, for your body, scalp, lips and hair!  Now go have fun!

So lets add it all up and see how we did:  One Month travel = 14 pairs of underwear (or 4) , 3 pairs of trek pants, one pair of slacks or skirt, three blouses or shirts, three pairs of shoes (one i will wear on the plane so I will only pack two) three UPF travel shirts, 10 pairs of socks, 5 tank tops a light sweater a pair of lounge pants a t-shirt and a scarf for temples.

There that was easy!  Now I can pack light, have everything I need, no hassles at ALL airlines and my husband and I can share ONE suitcase.

If you have any packing suggestions for me or tips of your own please comment here or email me and I will be happy to include it in my blog.

happy travels!



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