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Saturday, March 30, 2024

Pack with Me: One Week In a Backpack

It's been a while since I did a pack with me post. Earlier this month, I flew to Las Vegas for the Travel Goods Show and I packed everything I needed in a backpack, because I'm a short, weak person, and I don't like to struggle to get my bag into the overhead on the plane. Now, I also brought a roller bag with me, because I knew that I would be bringing quite a bit of stuff back, but it literally only had a rain jacket in it. 

Earlier this month, I flew to Las Vegas and I packed everything I needed in a backpack. Here's how I did it if you need help packing smaller.

I posted this video on my IG and had people asking me how I do it, so I decided to do a whole post on it. I know a lot of people struggle with packing light, so I'm here to show you how I pack when I travel alone. This backpack fits under the seat and has a lot of organization. In fact, the bag I took (similar) is bigger than the one I am packing the same items in in this post. 

Here are some of my outfit of the day pics, because I like to see what I wore and what I didn't, but also I like to show you how to use your small wardrobe to mix and match options. As I said in my IG post, I packed more than I usually do on this trip, because I had a fancy dinner planned, but I also wasn't sure of the weather or what I might end up doing last minute, so I definitely didn't need a dress or one of my extra pairs of pants. I debated not bringing a rain jacket, but I'm glad I took it, because it rained 2 of the 5 days I was there and it barely took up any room. 

So, I brought 2 pair of pants and wore one. I am showing you all the tops I have (I substituted a 3/4 sleeve striped shirt for my Barbie/Harry Potter shirt here, because it goes with more and is something I normally take with me.

Here is everything with the jeans and then my miscellaneous items: a dress that looks like two pieces, a lightweight hoody, and an athletic jacket that looks good with everything. You should always bring along a few pieces that can layer, because sometimes the weather is colder than you expect. My jacket could go over all my tops and even my dress, but I could even layer a tee over the dress to give it a different look.

Here is my pajama set and then my plane outfit: jeans, 3/4 sleeve shirt, hoody, and not pictured is the athletic jacket that I left out in case the plane was chilly.

I only had two pairs of shoes with me and they went with everything. I wore the sneakers on the plane and the flats were easy to shove in any open space in my bag. Now, let's talk actual packing:

I'm a big user of packing cubes and I really love compression ones. There are a lot with breathable mesh sides, which are fine, but I don't think they do as great of a job as ones without the mesh. If you're just looking to be more organized, then any cube will work for you if it's the right size. I bought this set, because it came with a ton of pieces, but also a range of sizes. You never know what might work and these were cheap, but surprisingly well made, and had a fun design. Start with your packing cube completely expanded before your start packing it.

Then roll each item and do a layer of the bigger pieces on the bottom, the smaller ones on a second layer, remembering to use all the available space, and then I just folded my pajamas and laid them on top. You don't need to do that part if you don't want. These would have made my layers uneven, so I just wanted to keep it even. Also, nobody cares if my pajamas are wrinkly, especially since I was traveling alone.

Now, the exciting part: zipping it up and then zipping the compression part. You end up with a nice brick of clothing that's easier to manage and much easier to pack (passport for scale). 

I had a second, smaller, packing cube for my underwear, socks (including a pair of compression socks), and I put my makeup mirror on top before zipping it all up.

Here's what I ended up with for clothes and the smaller bag above them is for my charging cords. 

Here's a small sampling of my toiletries. This is my entire makeup palette though. Everything else in the bag is haircare, toothpaste/brush, contact solution, glasses, and shower needs. This Nomatic one that I picked up at the show is actually bigger than the Travelon one I took with me, so it takes up more space in a smaller bag. And now we move on to actually packing our backpack:

This backpack has a lot of fun pockets. I used them to organize all the things I usually take with me: a power bank and cord for use in the airport or on the plane, a pair of sunglasses, my Flint lint roller, and my mini flat iron.

Here I've placed the bigger packing cube in the bottom lengthwise, then the smaller on standing up, so then I've made a space for my shoes. My toiletry bag goes on top of the big cube, then I added my electronics bag on top and a spare tote in case I need more room to bring things back with me.

Last, but not least, I put snacks in the outer front pocket, my laptop in the laptop compartment in the back, and then I used the removable straps on the bag to cinch down my rain jacket (because I normally wouldn't bring a second, totally empty, carry on with me. My everyday essentials go in a small handbag. I like this Travelon convertible bag, because it can be worn 3 ways: a crossbody, a shoulder bag, or a belt bag. My reusable water bottle goes in the side pocket and I'm ready to go.

That's it. I was able to take everything I needed, plus some extra pieces, and kept all my belongings with me from home, to car, to airport, to plane, to destination. My bag (minus the water bottle, which I put in the seat pocket, because I had a smaller leg space in the aisle) fit under the seat in front of me and I was able to easily get off the plane once we arrived. 

on my way home

I'll be doing another post soon on just toiletries and a whole review of this backpack and the toiletry bag. So, if you want to learn how to pare down your cosmetics and other essentials, it's coming in the next couple of weeks. And if you're looking for a new bag, this might be the one for you. I've also packed small for two people in a similar sized roller bag and personal item. If you can't carry a backpack for whatever reason, go check out that post.

What challenges do you face when trying to pack lighter?

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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Creative Ways to Save Money for Travel

Did a moth just fly out of your wallet when you opened it? Believe me, I've been there. A lot. Most of us travel on a budget, because we have to. We aren't independently wealthy (if only!), so we can't just spend a bunch of money we don't have. 

When you don't have a big budget, you learn to be creative, so here are some ideas to pack your piggy bank for your next trip.

When you don't have a big budget, you learn to be creative, but you find there are small things you can do that can really add up, too. Here are some ideas to help you pack your piggy bank so you can afford that next trip you're planning:

Cancel memberships - I bet you've signed up for things and then immediately got distracted and, worse, you forgot to cancel them. So, now you're paying for a thing you don't even use. Cancel those memberships and instead pay yourself that money. Make it easy and sign up for Rocket Money and they'll find those monthly fees you're paying unnecessarily.

Watch concerts/theater at home - Yes, going to concerts and live theater is fun, but they can easily add up quickly. I'm not saying to skip those must-see shows, but for most other ones, stream them. BroadwayHD has Broadway shows that you can stream for much less than going in person. The Globe also streams Shakespeare plays, with some big name actors, for a fraction of the cost of a live performance. Disney+ has started streaming concerts of popular artists like The Weeknd, Billie Eilish, and Ed Sheeran. 

Make it extra fun and invite some friends over, dress up, mix up some drinks, and have a mini concert in your living room. Take the money you would have spent on a costly concert, and save it instead. Boom! You just saved service fees. Or buy the tickets and get a trip out of it.

Find free things at home - I always suggest finding free things to do on vacation, so your dollars stretch further. Usually there are fun things that cost absolutely nothing and are easy to fit into your itinerary. The same can be said for the city where you live: free music, Shakespeare In the Park, free museum days...

Buy previously owned items/clothing - Some people like to make use of the Free sections on Nextdoor and Facebook. I like to use sites/apps like Poshmark to buy clothes at a fraction of retail. Many times pieces are brand new.

Save your pennies - Yes, we all have a change jar, but I also like using an app that will hook up to my bank account and credit cards, so every time I make a purchase (or pay a bill) it rounds up to the nearest dollar - or more - and moves that difference into a savings account for you. 

I use Qapital, where I can set up goals and also attach "rules" to each one. I have 5% of any deposit over $500 automatically transfer over and I round up to the nearest $3, so if something is $2.95, $2.05 gets deposited in my Qapital account. You can have more than one goal at a time and one or more rules for each one. Use my code and get $25 after your first transfer: rt7pa62x

Before you know it, you'll have a good little travel fund going. Yay! Now, start saving to go somewhere amazing.

What are your tried and true ways to save for vacation?

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Beautiful Art of Downtown Las Vegas

Every time I'm in Las Vegas, I marvel at the wonderful art there is around the city. There's almost nowhere as packed with the variety of art, be it wall murals, sculptures, signs, there is in the downtown area of Las Vegas. They have a designated arts district and you can see some of the most diverse and interesting artwork wherever you walk. 

Every time I'm in Las Vegas, I marvel at the wonderful art there is around the city. There's almost nowhere as packed with the variety of art.

You've probably seen some of my other art posts about Las Vegas*, and though I didn't get to spend a ton of time in the city this time, I did get to see quite a few different pieces. I had half a free day after the Travel Goods Show that I wanted to spend downtown, and I did, but mostly inside, because it was cold and rainy, which is not really conducive to doing a street art walk.

The Plaza has had this mural for quite some time and it really captures the feel of the city. It's called Tribute to Cassius Marcellus and is a collab of two Brooklyn-based artists that go by Faile. This is their largest piece. 

I caught this fun mural outside of a toy store from the shuttle going to the show. It was painted by an artist that goes by @jacselah (I think this is actually their name) and they have a better picture of it on their Instagram. I loved the bright colors. It's very eye-catching and perfect for a toy store. Rogue II specializes in vintage toys and is the second Rogue Toys store, hence the name.

These two pieces can be found on the Fremont Street Parking Garage, also known as the Red Garage, and the one on the left done by the artist named Raul Oprea, who goes by Saddo. He's a Romanian  artist. The one of the right was done by Greek street artist that just goes by "b.".

The Circa Hotels is one of my favorites in the downtown area. It's 21+ and is really beautiful. They have an awesome food selection and they never changed the name of the garage, so it's still the Garage Mahal, which I find amusing. The mural behind it is on another side of the Plaza Hotel and is called Cultivate Harmony, done by Shephard Fairey.

Not every piece of art is an intentional work of traditional art. I dined at Park on Fremont - just steps from the Fremont Street Experience - and was pulled in by the colors of this bike with the restaurant sign and the textures of the wall. 

Speaking of Fremont Street Experience, you can watch the canopy come to life all day/night long with fun LED displays and music videos (these start at 6pm) that are made especially for it by a handful of artists you've heard of, like Imagine Dragons, Chainsmokers, Katy Perry, and Shakira.

I loved this wall. So vibrant, even in the dreary weather. I couldn't find any info on who painted it, but it did give me Agostino Iacurci vibes, who has done several other murals in downtown Las Vegas. They are an Italian artist that uses these same colors and palm tree design in their work, so maybe it's them.

Behind Park On Fremont are some other great businesses and even the alley behind them got an art glow up. This piece, and the electrical boxes, is by Pretty Done, who has a lot of other pieces in downtown, and is on the back wall of the nightclub Octopussy.

Here's another piece by Pretty Done. It was along the whole wall around the back garden of the ENGLiSH Hotel, where I met some friends to do dinner at Pepper Club, the on-site restaurant. If you see it, you should listen and go inside. The food was delicious.

I'll never pass by a set of wings without taking a picture :)

Obviously, this is just a sample of what you can find downtown. Each year, new art is added as part of the Life Is Beautiful art and Music Festival and some pieces come from past Burning Man festivals. I love that, because it allows me to get some of the best parts of Burning Man without having to endure the rest of it that I would neither like, nor could I afford. 

Tell me your favorite city for street art? 

*Free Art in Las Vegas | Meow Wolf's Area 15 in Las Vegas

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Why Solo Travel Has Become So Popular

More and more women are traveling solo. In fact, more women than men are willing to go on a trip on their own. We don't always travel alone because we are single. Sometimes we go for work. Sometimes we can't get our friends to coordinate their schedules. Sometimes our spouses don't like to travel (this still seems crazy to me). Sometimes we just want some alone time. 

Solo travel has become more popular among people, even if they have others to go with. Here's why we do it:

I just came back from 4 1/2 days in Las Vegas alone and I had the best time. I met up with friends and family, went to a travel show, did some sightseeing on my own, talked to a bunch of strangers, and even went out to some nice restaurants on my own. 

I'm not one to care what other people think of me, but I also know that most people are too busy with their own lives to judge you for eating by yourself. I also find that staff giver you a little extra attention when you're alone and keep an eye on you more than they would if you were with others, especially if you eat at the bar. 

Remember: if you want to do something, stop waiting for other people to go with you, because while you're waiting, you're missing out on some really great stuff.

Have you traveled solo before? Where?

Saturday, March 16, 2024

2024 Trending Travel Products

I've just returned from the Travel Goods Show, which I haven't been to since 2020 (it was cancelled the following two years and I couldn't justify a trip to Chicago last year) and it's back in Las Vegas and under a new group of organizers. There were new things, like panels and workshops, the last day was a short day instead of a full day, and a ton of new brands.

Coming back from the Travel Goods Show, I've noticed a few exciting trends when it comes to products that just dropped or are coming soon.

I've noticed a few exciting trends when it comes to products that just dropped or are coming in the next few months:

Women-owned travel brands

Women are really shaping the travel experience now. For so long, every bag was made by men for men and you just got a box with a zipper and no innovation. Travelon has really been at the forefront of using women to help design bags that are pretty, but also functional. Now, women innovators are moving beyond luggage, and it's very exciting. I'll be wearing home a tank top with pockets, to keep all your essentials close to your body, whether you're traveling or walking the dog or running errands. I'll be trying a new brand of laundry sheets that are low sudsing and can be used for handwashing as well as machine washing. I'm also testing out a new over-the-tray organizer for the airplane. 

There are still new, innovative bags, too! A great carry-on that comes with it's own legs, in case there is no luggage rack in your room, but also so you can use it as a table in the airport to set your drinks on, play a game on, or use your laptop. My new favorite thing is a carry-on roller bag that has a child seat on it, so you don't also need to push a stroller through the airport when you already don't have enough hands for everything. Pop them on there, strap them in, and run to your gate.

Quiet sustainability

It seems like the brands doing the most are promoting it the least. They feel like the brand comes first and their talk about their sustainable practices come further down as what their customers care most about. I love that they're doing it and they aren't crowing about it, but I also wish they would put that out there a bit more. One of the companies that are doing the most are a brand I've followed for years and had no idea how much they were doing. People out there making quality products and saving the earth to the best of their ability, and not asking for any accolades for it. It's truly *chef's kiss*

Everything is recycled

Eco-friendly and sustainable products are so popular. Almost everyone I talked to is using recycled materials in all or the majority of their products, be it water bottles or scraps from their bigger items. I love it. Not only do you get a quality product, but you feel good about your choices as well. The tank top I told you about is made from recycled water bottles, there is a great travel blanket line made of recycled materials, and a company making fanny packs from the remnants of their backpacks, which are all different and have a little signed card inside with the person who made it.


Everything isn't black anymore! I saw green and yellow and blue and lovely pale Spring colors and an orange day bag. I'm so excited to see more color at the airport. it's also easier to find your bag, if you had to check it, amongst the sea of black bags if it's a fun color. 

Personal-sized roller bags

80% of travel bag sales right now are carry-on size. I don't even own a bag that's bigger than 22" anymore. Everyone is trying to save money. The new hot thing is a bag that's 15-19" and I saw a lot of these that would fit under the seat on the plane. I have a couple smaller roller bags, though I would love one that would fit under the seat. I think this smaller roller bag is great for everyone, but specifically for those with disabilities or back problems that can't really travel with a backpack, but still want something similar in size. There's no picking it up and putting it down a million times, because you can just roll through the airport onto the plane.

Travel comfort

All of us trying to travel on a budget and being stuck in economy seats need to make ourselves more comfortable any way we can. There are a lot of companies trying to help us on our journey (both of them!). I'm loving the tray organizer, a plug in device that turns anything into a bluetooth device, so you can use it on those seatback screens with your wireless earbuds, a super lightweight wraparound eye mask that covers your ears, too, and an emergency panty pack that has you covered (literally!) when unexpected things happen to you away from home.

My predictions: In the future, I think you're going to be seeing more products for those with disabilities and mobility issues. We're already seeing more of them becoming mainstream, which I love. It's hard being a disabled traveler and in some places it can be nearly impossible. I get really sad when I realize great places I've been are really not that accessible for everyone. I see that already starting to change a bit in the travel products space, and that's awesome.

What innovations in travel products are you hoping for?

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Amazing Women In Travel History

Men may dominate most travel careers, like being pilots and explorers and mountain climbers, but women have always pushed their way into all facets of the industry, from flying planes, to becoming essential crew on commercial flights, to captaining cruise ships. Here are just a few women who paved the way for the rest of us to be travel writers, solo travelers, and tour operators. 

Men may dominate most travel careers, but women have always pushed their way into the travel history books. Here are just a few:

This is by no means even close to a full list of awesome traveling women, and I'll be showcasing others throughout Women's History Month over on my Instagram (on Fridays), Threads, and Facebook.

Do you have travel heroes? Let's hear them in the comments!

Saturday, March 9, 2024

5 Budget Destinations for May

Right now everyone is getting ready for Spring Break, but if you're looking to save money, maybe skip all that in favor of a getaway in May. Not only will you be traveling in between two really popular times of the year - Spring Break and Summer - but it also means you'll save money by going when the crowds are lower and airlines and hotels are looking to entice people with deals. 

Beat the crowds and high prices of Spring Break and Summer by opting to travel in May instead. Here are 5 budget destinations:

Now's the time for a getaway with better weather, that'll leave you with money in the bank and the chance to spend more time doing things there, because you aren't jostling with a ton of other tourists. Here are 5 places that can help you do more with a smaller budget:

New Orleans, Louisiana

With both Mardi Gras and the Jazz Festival (over on May 5th) both out of the way, New Orleans is heading into a quieter time, meaning you can really explore the city without a million other people.  I've written  quite a few posts about The Big Easy, but if you're looking for free or cheap things to do, walk along the water and see some history and outdoor art/statues/sculptures at Woldenberg Riverfront Park, enjoy a ton of street musicians including the Jazz Museum's free concert series on Tuesdays, go to The Sazerac House to learn about (and sample) the city's signature cocktail, and spend the day taking in art, inside and outside, strolling through a botanical garden and so much more at City Park.

Portland, Oregon

Now, I maybe be biased because I live here, but Portland really hits its stride in May, when the nicer weather starts coming in and the Rose Festival starts. If you're an outdoorsy person, there are neverending places to hike, we have tons of wineries, vineyards, orchards, and farmers' markets to visit. If you're a city person, like me, then you'll be happy to know that it's very walkable and our public transportation is accessible. For freebies, walk along the river and enjoy the great weather at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, take in the colors at the International Rose Test Garden, hit up Portland Saturday Market, and maybe see some live music at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Photo by James Ting on Unsplash

Santorini, Greece

Are you looking to get some sun and culture and also get the heck out of the country? Then pack your swimsuit and sunscreen and head to Greece to walk up endless steps, bask in the beauty of it all, and lay on the (black sand) beach. When you're tired of soaking up the sun on the sand, save even more dollars by hitting up the archaeological site of Thera, sample wines with breathtaking views at Santo Wines, and explore the winding streets of the cities of Fira and Oia.

Photo by Ronny Rondon on Unsplash

Grand Cayman

May is right between high season and hurricane season and is perfect for those that love to do water activities like snorkeling and diving. Swim with stingrays, swim through a shipwreck, and check out an artificial reef. Not everything is sand and sea though. You can explore the island for free by doing things like visiting Camana Bay's with its observation tower, farmers' and artists' market, and fountains. Get cultured at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, visit historical Bodden Town, Hike the Mastic Trail, and indulge in some birdwatching.

Photo by David Köhler on Unsplash

Rome, Italy

If you're really wanting to hit all the highlights of Rome, but not stand in hours-long lines to do it, May is kind of the perfect time to do it. Visit the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, go to the Colosseum, and the Pantheon. All those cost money though, so consider augmenting your trip with freebies like tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain (or just watching everyone else invest in wishes), go to St. Peter's Basilica, see street performers in the evening at Piazza Navona, climb the Spanish Steps (but don't sit on them!), and hit up the market at Campo 'de Fiori.  

As a bonus, I've added a sixth destination as a runner up: 

Photo by Omar Elsharawy on Unsplash

Cairo, Egypt

Whether you want to gorge yourself with delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, or are dying to see the pyramids and the Sphinx, May is a wonderful time to visit Cairo and cross off that bucket-list destination. Those must-see sites are easily done in a day or two, so perhaps a cruise down the Nile is in order. While that won't break the bank, you can add in free activities like browsing the Khan el-Khalili bazaar, walk through the oldest part of Cairo on El Moez Street, walk across the Nile on the Qasr El Nil Bridge, and visit Tahrir Square (where you can find the famous Egyptian Museum, which is pretty affordable at ~$9pp admission fee).

There are a lot of ways to make a trip anywhere budget-friendly, or at least more affordable. You just need to know when to go and what to do. Even if you want to do all the major tourist attractions, you can always add free activities to make your trip cheaper and to get more out of your visit, just Google what free things there are to do wherever you're going.

May is also an ideal reason to take your mom (or other mom in your life) on a trip in honor of Mother's Day. Of course, you probably won't be able to top that gift, unless you take her on a better trip next year. I always recommend taking a trip with your loved ones, because you never know how much time you have with them and traveling together can be wonderful bonding experience. If you're more interested in, or only the budget for, just getting her a travel gift, I'll be posting my recommended gifts in April. I'll have things in every price point. In the meantime, you can look back at last year's list.

What are your favorite off-season vacation destinations?

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

How I Quit Overpacking

One of the easiest ways to save money (and time) on travel is by traveling with just a carry-on. Not only that, but it also saves your sanity and your back, because you have fewer things to keep track of and less weight to drag around. Before I started packing small,  I brought entire outfits for every day of my trip, plus a bunch of random pieces and 4 or 5 pairs of shoes. 

One of the easiest ways to save money (and time) on travel is by traveling with just a carry-on. Here's how I learned to do it.

I am not a big person. I'm 5'1" and can't carry a ton or lift large things over my head. When I travel now, if I go alone, I usually don't bring a bag that has to go in the overhead bin. I have anxiety about holding everyone up while I struggle to shove that bag. Eric is taller than I am, and much stronger, so he can easily throw a carry-on bag above his head and I'm not restricted to such a small bag, but I still pack as small as possible.

So, how did I change my mindset while traveling? My journey to carry-on packing started in 2006, when we were on our honeymoon and had two checked bags and a large personal item. We arrived in London and were trying to navigate the Underground and cobblestone streets without GPS. If you've ever been to a city with a subway system, you may know that there are a lot of stairs you have to deal with, because escalators don't always work and elevators aren't always feasible. 

After a long flight - where I didn't do a great job trying to dodge jet lag - then standing in line at customs for almost two hours, and then walking up and down stairs and down the street for probably a good hour, I was over having bags of any kind. My feet hurt, I was starving, and tired, and I just couldn't wait to be rid of all my stuff for forever. 

I made the mistake of wearing boots on the plane, so by the time I arrived, my feet and ankles were incredibly swollen. I took them off and didn't wear them the entire rest of the 2 weeks we were gone. I had only brought a pair of sneakers besides those boots, so I knew after that trip that I didn't need to ever pack a bunch of shoes. 

Knowing the struggle of a heavy suitcase, I started packing a bit lighter on every trip, immediately only using a carry-on after that. Each trip, I would cut things that I traveled with before and never used. Having a packing list certainly helped with that. Did I wear these shoes? No. They were out. Did I use this makeup product? No. It stayed home. Was this dress functional? Not at all. 

When I started traveling more on my own, I realized that I was still taking too much and it was keeping me from being efficient and slowing me down either getting through the airport quickly when I needed, or dragging it up the stairs of a place that didn't have an elevator. I realized that I'd rather do laundry and rewear 4 items of clothing than have to keep track of 15 things and come home with a bag full of dirty laundry. 

Slowly, I've whittled down my travel list to a handful of clothing items: 

3-5 tops 

Depending on the weather or how long I'm traveling, I will pack 3 for short trips or for warmer weather, and I'll pack 5 for longer trips or those where it'll be cold and I layer.

2-3 bottoms 

Bottoms can always be worn a few times before they need to be washed, especially if you pack darker colors that don't show visible dirt, or jeans. I pack one or two, again, depending on the weather or destination, and wear one on the plane or in the car. The only time I don't do this is when I'm heading to somewhere that's very warm, like Vegas in the summer, and then I'll pack an extra bottom, since it's going to be something lightweight, like shorts.

2 pair of shoes + flip flops

I wear my walking shoes on the plane, because they are always the bulkiest and take up more room than any other shoes. I then bring either a pair of nice sandals, ballet flats, low wedges, or booties. Whatever can go with something a bit dressy, but are also comfortable to walk in all day, too. Often I will throw in a pair of flip-flops to run down to the lobby or hit up the pool. They hardly take up any space, but if you need them and don't have them, they are really missed. 

Rain jacket

I have been to enough place where it has rained and an umbrella has been more of a hindrance than a help, especially when it's super windy. The weather can be unpredictable and the amount of times I've needed a waterproof layer has far outweighed the times I've never needed it. Not only can a rain jacket be really helpful when rain breaks out, but it can also be an extra layer if there's a chilly day that doesn't require an actual coat.

Lightweight top layer

I often find myself chilly no matter the weather. The plane can be cold. The car can be cold. It might be 90 degrees outside and then freezing inside where there's air conditioning. I usually bring a lightweight hoodie or an athletic jacket that goes with everything. This easy layer is perfect for saving space in your bag and wearing it on the plane isn't a big deal. 

Optional items:

  • A coat - If you're traveling somewhere cold or are coming from a cold climate and know you will need a coat on your return, then a coat that packs down easily is essential.
  • Dress - Maybe you're a dress/skirt person and would rather take 3 dresses instead of separate pieces. You should absolutely do that and save even more space in your bag. If you're like me and like to mix it up, you might just throw in a multifunctional dress that can go from sightseeing to dinner. 
  • Cardigan/wrap - I almost always bring a cardigan, if only to wear in my room. If I'm headed somewhere that is too warm to wear a long-sleeve layer, I will just bring a light wrap, so I can cover my arms and shoulders when I'm under the air conditioning. A wrap can also be used as a scarf, a sarong, or a headcover, which might be a necessity where you are traveling. 
  • Swimsuit - Heading to a warm weather destination or like to soak in the hot tub at the end of a long day walking? Then don't leave your swimsuit at home 

When all the items you bring are able to be mixed and matched, you can create a larger travel wardrobe. For instance, 3 tops and 3 bottoms can be mixed to make 9 outfits. You can create more with the addition of a cardigan and belt. Throw a t-shirt over/under a dress to make a new combo and get creative with items you've brought with you. Maybe you want to wear a long skirt as a strapless dress or a short skirt as a top. Maybe a button-up shirt can be worn open and tied at the waist with a tank or bikini top underneath.  Have fun making different looks, while still having reasonable and functional capsule wardrobe for your trip.

I find that different bags work for different trips, and choosing the right size can help you not overpack as well. Skip the expandable bag, which seems great, but gives you the option to add more before you even leave. I opt for a hardside carry-on, because it will always fit in the overhead. There are no bulging sides or pockets to make it too big.

Packing light isn't always easy, but the more you do it, the better you get at it. I've managed to travel with just a slim backpack to a hot destination. It fit all my clothes, toiletries, and my laptop. When I've not taken a laptop, I've even traveled with a bag the size of a large packing cube, so it can be done, even if you don't want to travel extra small like that. 

Stay tuned for more packing posts, where I will show you exactly what I pack for upcoming trips. What items do you find hard to leave home that cause you to overpack?

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