Travel Packing Tips : Check your Itinerary First
When you know where you are going and for how long, and which activities and tours are scheduled, your bag will pretty much pack itself! if you pack according to your itinerary. Pack for the climate, for activities, and pack light. After all, it's YOU that's taking a trip, not your closet.
- Set out your itinerary, as details are confirmed. Yes, you can print off long pages of airline info and files sent from travel agents, but soon you will have a ream of papers to shuffle through to find the simplest details.
- When I start to plan a trip, I modify an old page from a large desk pad calendar. See photo for what I mean. I used this to plan a 6 week long trip, to two continents.
- Enter the itinerary details in pencil as you would *like* them to be. After the tours, flights, hotels are confirmed, mark the details in pen. I also highlighted the international air travel days.
- I could tell at a glance what still needed booking or confirmation. And on any given day of the trip, you'll know where you'll be, and when, and what you're likely to be doing:
- Attending a business dinner, touring museums, on a city walking tour or hiking in the mountains. And so will your family, when you leave them this calendar page :-)
- Don't Unpack on the road. It takes up too much time! Try to pack the items you will need soonest near the top, like your pajamas, and a clean top for the next day.
- About once a week, I find that I have picked and pulled enough bits and pieces out of the suitcase that I need to re-pack it. A side benefit of not strewing your belongings about the room is, should you oversleep on a travel day, you can be ready to leave in a flash!
Cold climate -- Hot climate : Layer, Layer, Layer
Layers - items of clothing that can be worn alone or on top of other items - are key to packing light. If you'll be in a hot climate, you can take things off. If you will be in a cold climate, you can put things on.
For example, In South America, with basically the same items, I went comfortably from the hot, humid tropics of north Argentina to a few weeks in the windy, chill springtime of the south. Wear your bulkiest items, usually your jacket and sneakers or walking shoes, when you are in transit.
- If you are packing for travel to a cold climate, such as Canada or northern U.S. in winter, see What to pack for a trip to Canada in Winter .
- If you are packing for a trip to Chile, Uruguay, Argentina see Packing for South America
General Packing Rules for All Trips
- Be Fussy About Fabrics Choose fabrics that breathe, don't show dirt, don't wrinkle, and are easy to wash and dry. It sounds like a tall order, but with all the great fabrics for travel and sports clothing, there's lot's to choose from. This means no linen, of course. You'll look great and feel great!
- Pack Your suitcase To save space, roll clothes into tidy sausages, and only fold clothing, like suit jackets, that do not readily roll. Stuff socks and any small items into the various crevices around larger items. Put a second pair of shoes (you will be wearing the first pair) into a plastic bag (or put each shoe into its own plastic bag) and pack near the top of the clothing. Shoes with heels generally do well in the corners. See how to pack suitcase.
- Be Ruthless When Choosing Everything must do double or triple duty or it stays home. This is the hardest part of packing, when you begin to second guess your wardrobe choices with thoughts of 'What if . . . ?' Whether you are going for one week or four weeks, you really don't need as many clothes as you think you do.
- TIP When you have your travel wardrobe laid out on your bed at home, do a final check. Think about your itinerary, and what activites you have planned. Ask yourself questions like 'What will I wear to fancy restaurant? What will I wear when going from my hotel room through the lobby to the swimming pool? What will I wear for the canopy walk? What will I wear for dinner at the Captain's table? You get the idea. Make any changes now, then get packing!
What Clothes and How Many Do I Really Need to Pack?
- When we're packing for travel far from home, our travel wardrobe can act as a security blanket. After many days on the road, though, your luggage turns into an unwanted anchor! (Bricks? Why am I carrying bricks?, you may well ask!) What clothes etc do you really need? A lot less than you might think! This applies to all travel: One, two , three, four weeks -- you'll have travel outfits to last for a month or longer! For specific clothes list, see links at bottom.
- I know how scary it can be to pack for travel with what seems to be hardly any clothes at all! You are sure you will run out, or be wearing dirty clothes all the time. But you won't.
- Follow these simple basic rules on what to pack, and you will be fine! Remember, you can always buy an inexpensive sweater or coat at some foreign market, then jettison it before you come home. As soon as you get home, make a list of anything that you did not wear or use. Leave this list in your suitcase, so that it's the first thing you see when you're wondering what to pack for your next trip.
When You Get Home At the end of your trip, make note of any item(s) you did not wear even once (bathing suit excepted). Even following these rules, on a two week trip to Hong Kong and Kota Kinabalu with a one-week stop in British columbia (Canada) on the way back, I still had three tops I never wore once. That's the kind of dead weight you can do without. Why, oh why, do we persist in taking so many clothes on holidays, when so very few of them really deserve a trip?
Keep Your Travel Wardrobe Now, after wearing the same clothes for so many weeks, you will be heartily sick of them, sometimes to the point of considering burning them. But don't! Keep them as your Travel Wardrobe. By the time your next trip comes along, you will be glad they are there. The more you travel, the more your own travel wardrobe will evolve into a few select, well-chosen items you can toss into a bag at a moment's notice and be on your way. And that is the joy of traveling light.
Yes, but what do I PACK? See my tips according to item of clothing:* Walking shoes, sandals, heels
* See Pack by Country pages in left menu for packing according to destinations