I used to pack a bunch of things when I traveled. Over the years, I've learned what is a must and what should stay home in order to get the most use out of it and allow me to carry-on my belongings and save baggage fees. Every time I travel, I get better and better at packing, especially when returning to places that I've been several times. Of course, I still make mistakes – like when I decided I didn't want to take a rain jacket to Orlando – but that's me being human. I'm willing to continue to learn. Fortunately, I've learned these five important lessons when traveling and it makes me a more efficient packer/traveler.
I’ll admit it. I live in Oregon, where it rains…a lot. I’m used to it and I couldn’t even tell you where any of the umbrellas I own are located. I either just walk around in it or put on my rain jacket, because if I didn’t, I’d never really go anywhere for a majority of the year. Umbrellas are impractical and take up space in my travel bag and can only be used in one situation. If it’s windy when it rains, they’re useless.
What to pack instead: Get a good, lightweight, packable rain jacket with hood. This will free up your hands, keep you drier and won’t poke out people’s eyes if you’re in a crowded area (like the theme park). If you’re traveling somewhere warm, it can also be thrown on when inside an air conditioned space or a cold snap happens. Multi-purpose.
High Heels (impractical shoes)
If I can’t walk all day in a pair of shoes without wanting to cut off my feet, then they aren’t coming with me in my bag, with the exception of flip flops that I can wear to the pool, down to the lobby or to the grocery store. Uncomfortable shoes or high heels rarely get worn on vacation, because after walking all day, your feet already hurt and squeezing your feet into a pair of stilettos sounds like more torture than usual.
What to pack instead: A nice pair of sandals or ballet flats that work with your shorts, pants and dresses and have good support, so you can wear them out sightseeing and then to a nice dinner in the evening.
1 outfit per day
Okay, this is a complete no-no for those packing light to avoid checking a bag. You don’t need 14 tops and 14 bottoms and 9 pairs of shoes. You just don’t.
What to pack instead: Be creative and pick a color scheme for your clothing, so that you can mix and match. All your tops should be able to go with all your bottoms and give you the maximum use of everything. I like to go with this equation: 5 tops + 3 bottoms = 15 unique outfits. Throw a dress into the mix and your travel outfit (that one you wore on the plane) and make your travel wardrobe even larger. Maybe you’ll have to do a little laundry. Suck it up.
All your makeup
Let’s face it. You probably have a crapload of cosmetics in your bathroom and you probably use only 5-10% of what you have on any given day. Leave that giant makeup bag at home and go a little more natural.
What to pack instead: Smaller sizes, the bare necessities and multi-use products. If you missed my last post on your summer beauty bag, check it out for more help on this.
Okay, I’m not telling you not to read, but books and magazines are bulky and take up valuable space you need for more important things, like pants.
What to pack instead: Take a magazine (or two) and load up your phone or tablet with your favorite books and mags. I will take a magazine just for the parts of my flight where I can’t have my electronics on, but I tend to read or play a game on my tablet or play a game with my husband the rest of the flight. My tablet packs a ton in a small package and saves me a lot of room. Just remember your backup battery.
I stick by all these tips for every trip I take, just so I don’t overpack and can pack as light as possible. Being able to carry all my own baggage is key. If you’ve ever tried to drag everything you own up three flights of stairs after a 12-hour – or even a 2-hour – flight, then you know the pain of packing more than you need.
What items do you make sure to leave at home and what do you pack instead?