Do you hate packing or always leave it to the last minute? What if you had your carry-on pretty much packed with all the essentials and then just had to add a few tops and bottoms to be able to take off? I find this to be tremendously helpful when I pack a bag, so much so that I buy travel items to pack and use on my trip throughout the year. Of course, if you go to the same types of destinations each year, then you could probably pack all of your travel clothes as well. . For those of you who do not, let’s look at what you can get away with packing that can be used in any destination.
First thing’s first: Make a packing list. You know what essentials you need to take for each vacation, so make a master list with these on them and then leave blank lines for clothing choices, since each vacation might need a different type of attire. You’re not going to be able to take your Bermuda travel wardrobe with you to Iceland and not freeze to death, so keep that in mind. You might want to make several different packing lists, if you’re the organized sort. I tend to keep mine as a Word doc on my computer, where I can leave all my necessary items on and then delete and replace the rest with travel clothing choices that are appropriate for my destination. If you aren’t sure where to start when making a packing list, follow the list below and then go from there or steal some other ideas from websites like TravelSmith or Independent Traveler, which has packing lists they create for different trips.
This seems like a given, but it’s one of those things that if you don’t put it on your packing list, you could easily forget. Keep 5 pair for each traveler in a zip-top bag (for freshness) in your bag, that way there’s no chance that you thought you packed them and then get to your destination without any. Socks can also be packed like this. I’m sure you take the same kinds of socks with you on most vacations (unless your destination is really cold and you need special toe-warming ones), so you might as well add these to your bag while you’re at it.
Shampoo & Conditioner can easily be bought in travel sizes or put in reusable travel bottles and if they don’t get used for months, it’s not a big deal. I know some people like to just buy these at their destination, but I travel prepared for anything. If I have a layover or get stranded, I would like to keep myself clean.
Soap/shower gel. See Shampoo & Conditioner.
Almost all Deodorant brands generally come in smaller travel sticks. If you can’t find them at your local store, look on Minimus.biz. If they don’t have them, you may need to settle for a similar brand, or take a full-size stick, but those take up a lot of room in a toiletry bag.
Toothpaste and toothbrushes are a travel must. We have a set of travel brushes that we keep in the bag at all times. That way, we don’t risk the chance of leaving them behind on the morning of our trip, because we left them in the bathroom. Travel size toothpaste is available almost everywhere. I have so many tubes, you’d think they gave them away free at the airport.
Hair care products always seem to take up so much space. Here’s how you can make them take up less and leave your everyday products at home. Buy an extra set of combs and/or brushes. If you require a comb or brush, buy an extra one that can pack neatly in your toiletry bag. Obviously combs pack better than brushes, but if you need one, try to get a travel-sized one or a pop-up brush that takes up almost no room. You can find them in the aisle with other travel-sized items.
If you curl, blow-dry or straighten your hair, then consider getting smaller versions of those devices that will take up less space. Conair has some wonderful products specifically for travel that have gotten really good reviews. Or you can look for other brands. Look for folding models. You have no idea how much space you can save in a bag when you buy a smaller hair dryer that has a folding handle or even a curling iron that can retract into itself for easy portability.
If you wear contacts, keep an extra pair in your bag, with a spare case and small bottle of solution. That is a lifesaver anywhere.
Ladies who wear makeup, can buy a new bottle, jar or powder case when the old one has a few weeks of use left in it and put it in their travel bag. I do this with foundation. It is easy to estimate when you will need to go buy or order a new one, so instead of waiting until the last minute, I get a new one earlier, put the old one in my toiletry bag and am set for my next trip. I also keep a crème blush in my bag, to keep from needing to also carry around a brush, and a spare lip balm. I hate getting to my room and then having to dig around in my purse for half of what I want to put on my face. When you receive a gift with purchase, instead of using the samples, throw the mascara and eye shadow in your bag. They are usually smaller, work just as well and are easily replaceable. (Another plus is that if you toss it at the end of your vacation, you won’t feel like you’re wasting anything and you have less to carry on your way home!)
Easy 3-1-1 bag: Gather all the things that are liquid, gel, paste and whatever else they make you squish in there now and put it all in your plastic bag next to, or inside, your toiletry bag. That way, when travel day comes, you can just put it on the top of your packed items or throw it in your purse to be able to quickly produce it for security. Nothing is worse than when you see people get to the airport without a bag or all their products in 3 different bags or in their carry-on pocket and you end up stuck behind them in line. Preparation is key to whizzing through security and starting your vacation.
Now, I know you will be using all or most of your electronic devices during your daily life, so I’m not suggesting you pack up your laptop and iPod weeks or months before you trip. What you CAN do is purchase an iGo multi-charger (or win one via my Facebook page) and keep it in your carry-on with all your essential tips. That way, when you get ready to leave, you don’t have to hunt down chargers for everything AND you save so much space you wouldn’t believe it. Imagine having to take only one adapter with you everywhere you go, even if you take twelve electronic devices. I don’t have an iGo adapter for my netbook, but you can buy those, too. They seem to take up the same amount of space, so I just make sure to add that to my list of must-haves on my packing list.
Other Useful Travel Items
I tend to have the same items packed for every trip, so now I just leave them in my travel bag all the time.
- Small crank flashlight. You never know when you might need some extra light. These are great, because they are inexpensive and don’t require batteries. I found one at my local Target that’s on a keychain, fits in the palm of your hand and gives enough light off with just a few cranks.
- Pen and paper. Take some notes, play a game, leave a message for the maid. You really can’t go wrong by having this set in your bag. Even if you don’t end up using it, it takes up almost no room.
- Folding, pop-up mesh hamper. I know I’ve sung the praises of these before, but they really are useful. Use as a hamper and a laundry tote for vacations of a week or more. For less than a week, use it to keep all your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones or as a catch-all for your purchases.
- Laundry line. In case you plan to do laundry in your room, or want to save money on dryer costs by bringing back your clean clothes and hanging them to dry in your room. The best ones are the rubbery ones that have a braided line, so you don’t need to bring clothes pins, as the clothing can be held in place by placing them between the plaits.
- Sewing kit. When you only take as many clothes as necessary, you don’t really bring anything extra. It’s imperative that if something happens you can fix it, whether it’s a popped button or an unruly hem.
- Basic first-aid kit. I have a small one that fits in my toiletry bag, but it has all the essentials: band-aids, antibiotic meds, gauze, aspirin, gloves, tweezers…If you fall and break your leg, it won’t help you much, but if you skin your elbow at the pool, you won’t have to shell out $13 on a tube of Neosporin at the hotel gift shop. Great for clumsy people like me or those with kids.
- Anti-bacterial spray and wipes. I like to have both of these on hand. The spray can kill germs on your hands…or anywhere else on your body and in the air and the wipes can be used for the same, on surfaces, to clean up spills or to refresh yourself after a long plane ride. Both are also wonderful if you have kids in tow.
- Compass. Yes, I know this isn’t Boy Scouts, but sometimes, even in a big city, you’re confronted with a map and no real point of reference to where you are. A compass helped us out greatly when trapped in the depths of Kensington Park. The map doesn’t show you trees and benches, so knowing a general direction to head in got us back on track.
- Packable rain jacket. You never know when a downpour will interrupt your vacation, but having a packable jacket can keep you dry and also serve as a light cover-up for a chilly evening, making it more useful and convenient than an umbrella. You can get affordable, lightweight options in a variety of colors.
Creating a Travel Wardrobe
Want to start working on a great travel wardrobe? I have some warm weather and cool weather travel clothing pieces, but lately I've been looking at cold weather destinations and need to stock up on some warmer options. This got me thinking that other people probably want to know what kinds of fabric and brands to look for in a durable and attractive travel wardrobe.
- While cotton is comfortable, it's not always the best option for travel fabric, because it wrinkles and holds odors. Look for items that have soy, bamboo or coolmax. These fabrics wick moisture and are resistant to odors, so if you can't wash your clothes right away, they won't smell up your CLEAN clothes and you can get another wear out of them if you need to. Nylon and rayon are nice lightweight fabrics that are also quick-drying. Wool and fleece are excellent layering fabrics, if you need to keep warm in a cold climate, because they have a tight weave that can be thin and still hold in quite a bit of heat.
- Omni-shield clothing has built-in SPF for sunny locales. Just because your skin is covered up, doesn't mean you can't get sunburned.
- If you'll be traveling to a destination that is known to have mosquitoes and other bite-y bugs, look for clothing with Insect Shield from ExOfficio. It has built-in bug repellent that can last up to 70 washes.
So, what makes travel clothes better for traveling than your normal wardrobe? This is easy. Travel clothes are made specifically for travel conditions. They are durable, lightweight and super packable. They can also be very versatile and stylish, with great pieces that are made for layering, and are convertible. You can have pants that roll up to make capris or zip-off into shorts. You can buy long sleeve tops that have roll up sleeves to make a short sleeve shirt, so it works for chilly weather or warm weather. There are dresses that can be converted into 20 different styles. Now you can even find reversible clothing, so you can wear one piece two different ways and get more looks out of it. So, where can you find these awesome clothing pieces? Here are a list of my favorite brands.
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