Packing

 

Packing for travel can be both exciting and daunting.  My advice is to read on, stay calm and pack wisely!  Be sure to review our Shop tab for packing suggestions and outstanding travel gear/products worth buying.  Become a member for exclusive travel tips, resources and organizational tools to help you get packing!

Prior to packing you should google the average monthly weather forecast in your destination(s) – not just the extended 10 day weather forecast.

It is important to determine the suitcase and carry-on baggage weight/size limitations specific to your airline carrier(s) prior to packing. Suitcase requirements and limitations vary from airline to airline (as do overweight charges).

  • Do NOT overpack – leave room for purchases.
  • If necessary, update your luggage ID tags with current contact information, as well as email address.
  • Remember, chances are that if you really need something that you didn’t pack, you can always buy it at your destination.  If you don’t need a dressy outfit, then don’t pack it.
  • Start making a “pile” two weeks in advance of your travels.  As you think of something you want to bring on your trip, put it in that pile. (I use my spare bedroom or grab a box to put in my closet.)  This is especially useful when you need to pack for kids and/or your spouse.
  • Pack efficiently by laying out your outfits for each day you are away.  Figure out how you can mix and match.  Always bring pieces of clothing that you can wear at least twice.
  • Neutral colors work well together and darker colors don’t show dirt as easily.
  • Some “hard” suitcases weigh a lot even when empty.  Depending on weight limitations, you might want to consider bringing a large rolling duffle bag instead of a hard suitcase. Check out the Luggage/Bags section of our Amazon aStore to find a bag that suits your needs.
  • Carry your jewelry and any “valuables” in your carry-on.  Don’t bring any expensive jewelry even if you have insurance on it or a lock/safety box is available at your hotel.
  • Are your electrical chargers and accessories packed (phone, camera, laptop, PDA, memory cards, readers, etc.)?
  • We each travel with an extra electronics charger that provides more outlets.  The Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Travel Swivel Charger Surge Protector with Dual USB Ports provides 5 charging outlets in total.
  • Bring along a New Trent iCarrier High Capacity Dual USB Portable Power Pack  to charge up to two devices at once.  It charges devices up to six times on one original charge and has a lifespan of about 500 charge cycles.
  • Only pack two sleeping outfits (if you sleep with outfits)! Or pack items to sleep in and/or wear out -- double duty.
  • Wear your jacket on the airplane if you need to bring one.  These take up a lot of room in a suitcase or carry-on.  Also, wear your heaviest pair of boots/shoes on the airplane to save on weight/space.
  • Pack a lightweight pullover sweater in your carryon -- airplanes can be chilly!
  • Pack only two pairs of comfortable shoes and some flip flops.  If you purchase new shoes to bring on your trip, wear them around for a week to break them in and ensure they don’t give you blisters.
  • Toiletries always leak.  Wrap all liquids in a sealed plastic bag and then put them in your dopp kit/toiletry bag.  I also tape all my liquids shut with duct tape.   Humangear GoToobs are great.  They are BPA and PC free, as well.
  • Purchase the locks that you can lock and only the airport can open.  You can use them in the hotel room to keep your suitcases locked and possessions safe, as well.
  • Pack a medium-sized, reusable water bottle.  CamelBak makes a great bottle called the CamelBak Podium Chill that is insulated and keeps water cold for most of the day.  It NEVER leaks, either. They are easier and “greener” to carry around than plastic water bottles.
  • I like to also pack my favorite tea bags or instant coffee so that I can have tea/coffee in my room instead of ordering room service. Restaurants will usually provide you with free hot water or you can travel with a heating wand and use it in your room (they don’t take up too much space and can save you money in the long run).
  • You might consider travelling with two credit cards in case you lose one or one gets stolen.  This is especially true if going overseas.
  • I travel with a kitchen-sized trash bag to hold my dirty clothes once my trip begins.  Packing a few sandwich-sized, zip lock bags is a good idea as well.  You can protect your cell phone with a bag at the beach or pool and still talk through the bag!
  • Pack reusable totes that fold down very tightly.  These are great as extra beach/shopping bags and work well in countries where you have to pay for plastic bags at the grocery store (like Europe).  I love the Envirosax line.  They are fun, colorful, durable, waterproof and come in different sizes.
  • If you prefer to pack an extra day bag in the form of a backpack, check out the Marmot Kompressor Plus.  It folds down very tightly and takes up very little room. Marmot has an incredible warranty, as well.
  • Always pack a first aid kit, especially if travelling with children.  It is sometimes difficult to find products like antibiotic cream, Benadryl, Tylenol, Aspirin, cough syrup, stomach ache medicine, car sickness medicine, ear/tooth ache medicine, etc., in foreign countries.  And if you can’t speak the language or read the labels, you never know if you are putting your child in danger.  Dosage amounts may be confusing, as well.  Bandaids (in all sizes) and the basics go a long way!  I know that these can take up space in your baggage, but it is worth it when travelling to a foreign country.
  • I pack pain relieving and fever reducing medication in my carry on because you never know what can happen on a long flight!
  • If you are worried about jetlag, pack some melatonin.  Valerian and Passion Flower also do the trick.  (Be sure to check with your doctor first.)  These herbal sleep aids will help you sleep when you need to so that you feel rested and don’t waste precious time feeling lethargic on your vacation.  Ask your pediatrician what dosage to take for children.
  • Be considerate of any cultural and social issues in your destination.  For instance, I would avoid wearing any military-type clothing, such as camouflage prints and army green jackets in certain countries.
  • I pack my under garments, socks and bathing suits separately in a packing cube.  I organize/separate different types of clothing/outfits with packing cubes, as well.  We love the TravelWise Packing Cube System.
  • We pack small, aromatherapy votive candles when we travel – sometimes hotel rooms smell like smoke, especially abroad.  We like soy candles that burn cleanly (try Votivo).
  • Pack a utility knife (Swiss Army Knife) in your checked luggage (not your carry-on).  Scissors, tweezers, wine/bottle openers and a knife always come in handy when travelling.
  • Raw almonds or nuts are a great snack to pack in your carry on whether in a car, plain or train. They don’t spoil and provide protein.
  • We also love to enjoy music while on vacation and always pack a wireless Bluetooth speaker to connect to our portable music library.  The HMDX Jam Wireless Portable Speaker is small enough to transport but has great sound.
  • Be sure to pack hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes in your carry on (the FAA-approved sizes for liquid vary worldwide).  I wipe down our airplane tray tables and all other hard surfaces prior to take-off.  Sanitizing wipes come in handy for everything!
  • Pre-fill daily medications and/or vitamins in the Lewis N. Clark AM/PM Pill Organizer and ensure all prescription drugs are available prior to your trip.  You should probably travel with copies of the prescriptions, as well.  If you need any medications daily, pack some in your carry-on, as luggage does get lost for more than a day sometimes!
  • If you plan to be outdoors in the sun a lot, be sure to pack a hat that packs wells and doesn’t take up too much room.  Tilley makes great travel hats that pack easily and are geared toward any activity.  They also have an amazing two year warranty if you lose or harm your hat!  All hats are made with UV protection and come with a “secret” zipper compartment.
  • Pack an umbrella – they can be expensive when you need one. The Shed Rain Flatwear Compact umbrellas are super compact and get solid reviews.
  • Buy a Buff!!  They are a favorite accessory for hot or cold climates.  Buffs come in various fabrics and sizes and can be used at the beach, on a windy day, to absorb sweat, or for skiing/sports (extra warmth).  They are multifunctional headwear and scarves that are stylish and very functional.  Guys need them, too!
  • Pacsafe sells a wide variety of “secure” travel gear that aims to provide travellers with “confidence and peace of mind.”  Their mantra is “Smart. Safe. Secure. Travel.”  If safety is a major concern during your travels, I would check out their “secure” solutions.
  • Don’t forget to pack a razor and razorblades – these are pretty expensive overseas.

  • Sundresses and light-weight skirts take up less space when traveling to a warm climate.  They also roll up easily.  Most hotels provide irons, so I wouldn’t worry if you pack cotton dresses/skirts.
  • There is such a thing as the perfect travel purse, carry on, day bag and suitcase.  Check out the Luggage/Bags section of our Amazon store to find the one that works for you. 
  • I don’t pack a hairdryer anymore, as most hotels provide them.  Check with your accommodations prior to packing one – they take up unnecessary space.
  • Pack a colorful scarf or two.  They accessorize an outfit and serve many useful purposes.
  • I always pack a sarong if I am going to be wearing a bathing suit on vacation.  Sarongs can serve as a beach cover up, shawl or fun accessory.
  • If you plan to visit churches, mosques or other religious/sacred sights, pack something that covers your shoulders and isn’t too revealing.  Scarves work well, but so do light cardigans.  Shorts and miniskirts might be offensive, as well, especially if travelling during religious holidays.
  • Instead of packing more than one bathing suit, buy a reversible one or bring separate bottoms and tops that you can mix and match.
  • Ballet flats can be dressed up or down. They also don’t take up a lot of room. 
  • Packing a pair of leggings is a great idea if travelling during spring months or to places where the temperature drops at night.  Leggings can be worn solo or under a sundress or skirt in the event that the weather turns chilly.  Or you can wear them to bed as pajama bottoms.  They also take up less room than jeans, wash well, dry quickly and come in various lengths and colors.
  • A cotton skirt in a neutral color should be a packing basic -- they fold up tightly and wash well.
  • Waterproof make up goes a long way while travelling even if you don't plan on getting wet.  Stilla and Make Up Forever make excellent waterproof eyeliner and lip liner that stay put!  Check out our Beauty/Cosmetics shopping section to find other great products.
  • Havianas makes comfortable, durable and fun flip flops.  The “Freedom” line has an adjustable strap in the back -- more like a sandal than a flip flop.
  • Cotton T-shirts in neutral colors roll up well, wash well and can be used to mix and match.  The same holds true for tank tops.  
  • Never pack nail polish remover in a bottle – it's toxic and unnecessary when you can pack LA FRESH Eco Beauty Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover.  These individually wrapped pads won't leak and help condition your nails!

  • Consider wearing a money belt while travelling – unfortunately thieves target tourists.  Atitlan makes an affordable one in different colors.
  • Chaco makes durable, comfortable and stylish sandals, boots and shoes for men and women.  My husband has owned a pair for 6 years now and always travels with them.
  • Quick-drying and wrinkle-resistant make the ExOfficio Men's Nio Amphi Short a perfect item to bring.  They have a lot of useful pockets as well.
  • Olukai Ohana filp flops rank high for durability, comfort, stability and style. They also come in great colors.
  • Pack at least one button down shirt -- even if you don't need to "dress up" you can always wear it as a light layer.
  • Invest in a Tumi Hanging Travel Kit.  It does cost more but will last a VERY long time.  It can hang from any fixture and features numerous interior/exterior pockets.  Great for women, too.
  • Zip-up cotton or fleese hoodies come in handy when traveling to mild climates with cooler evenings.  
  • A good-looking shoe/sneaker is hard to find, but Cushe gets great reviews for comfort, weight and style.
  • ExOfficio.com specializes in travel apparel for different climates and adventures.  Their clothing is quick-drying, low on wrinkling and often provides hidden zippers for keeping small items safe.  Some of their clothing provides UV protection and odor shields as well.  Their clothing is versatile and perfect for travelling.
  • The Columbia Convertible Pant is stylish, versatile and perfect for travelling -- pants and shorts in one.
  • How handy is a stylish lightweight jacket that doubles as a neck pillow?  The Storm Logic Sweater Jacket is perfect for travel - water resistant, warm, durable...and it folds into a neck pillow!
  • A denim chambray shirt is a great layering piece -- goes with everything.  They are perfect for ladies and kiddos, too!
 

  • Pack easy, pre-packaged snacks that don’t take up a lot of room.  Protein bars and fruit leathers are great.
  • Call your airport to find out if you can bring special juice boxes, formula or milk (in sippy cups or bottles) in your carry-on bag (over the FDA-approved limit on liquids). This is especially important if you are travelling with an infant who is drinking breast milk or a special-diet formula.  It seems that all airports are different, so do your research prior to leaving.
  • Children who have a paid seat on the airplane are eligible to bring a carry-on suitcase.  Buy them a rollerbag to save money on a checked bag.
  • My son loved his Beatrix Wheelie suitcase so much that he wouldn't let me push it!  These bags are easy to wheel, easy to open and easy to see why kids love them.
  • Even if you need to pack a winter jacket, also pack a hoodie/zip up for varying climates or in the Spring/Summer months with cooler evenings. 
  • Pack some business cards that include contact information (name, phone number, email address, hotel contact information) while you are away and put them in your child's pocket in case he/she gets lost.  Or have a personalized dog tag necklace made for your child to wear around his/her neck with contact information.  I know this is a horrible thought, but better to be safe than sorry.
  • If you are travelling with picky eaters that love peanut butter, throw a plastic jar of peanut butter in your suitcase.  Believe it or not, some places don’t sell peanut butter!
  • If travelling with children under 8 on long flights, you might want to pack an extra top and bottom in your carry-on.  Accidents do happen, and a change of clothing comes in handy.
  • Provide some guidelines and limitations on what your child can pack.  I always had a rule that only one stuffed animal was allowed to join us on our trip!
  • If you are travelling with a child who is taking an electrical gaming device, be sure to pack earphones for them (and don't forget to charge those devices up).  These games generate a lot of noise and bother other passengers.  I have seen airline personnel ask children and parents to shut games down due to the noise.  Children’s earphones fit better than the earphones provided by the airlines.  My son used the Kidz Gear Wired Headphones.
  • If your child can sit up unassisted, consider packing the My Little Seat Infant Travel High Chair.  This ultra portable and machine washable travel high chair has a 5-point harness and folds down to the size of a diaper.
  • If you are going to a destination where the roads/sidewalks are comprised of ancient cobblestones, be prepared to pack the appropriate stroller.  There is a time and place to pack the cheapest umbrella stroller…and then there is a time and place that you need some serious durability and larger wheels for cobblestones and difficult terrain. 
  • I was pretty strict about what type of car seat my child used when we travelled, and I often lugged ours around (to Santorini, Greece, for instance).  Call your rental car company ahead of time and determine what brand/type of car seat they provide.  You might want to bring your own.
  • Pack a few “surprises” in your carry-on to give to a young child during longer plane/train/boat rides.  These “goodies” don’t have to take up a lot of room, but can provide incentive to sit quietly and enjoy the ride!  I presented these items on an as needed basis.  Lollipops and that “forbidden” sugar bubble gum also easily delight!
  • Sightseeing all day with a child was made easier when someone suggested we buy our son a camera that took "real" pictures...brilliant.  VTech makes a great digital camera that is Mac and PC compatible and has a video option.
  • The Keen Newport H2 Sandal is a perfect travel shoe for toddler through "big kid" sizes.  They are rugged, waterproof, cover the toes and have good traction. They come in "typical" boy and girl colors, as well.
  • The Car Headrest Mount Holder for iPad Mini & iPad Mini 2 will hang almost anywhere you need or want hands-free access to your iPad (car headrest, stroller, crib, hotel room, etc.).  No more worries about kids dropping the iPad!