I used to despise packing for family vacations for various reasons: I could never decide on what to wear and I would over compensate for the weather, causing me to be an over packer. I would pack one outfit per day and I would fold my clothes individually and stack them in my luggage. The image of me standing on top of my suitcase was very real for me and used to be my norm. Now that I am older and much more traveled (I still have Europe and Asia to explore) my packing skills have improved exponentially and the days of struggling to close my suitcase are long gone. I credit much of my progress to my Pinterest browsing of packing lists. I absolutely love to pack my bag because it gets me in the groove and excitement of leaving home and exploring a new place. I have read through many articles and have settled on six tips that I have adapted in my approach to packing. Here are my 6 Cardinal Rules of Packing:
- Pack clothing in neutral colors and can be worn in layers- Black, dark/light gray, tan/brown, white, and blue are what I consider to be neutral colors. Clothing capable of layering include: black leggings/pants, tank tops, long sleeves, basic t- shirts, and a chambray button up shirt. This versatility helps avoid packing an outfit for each day and can help eliminate the amount of clothes you bring.
- Pack underwear (not including bras) for each night you are staying at your destination and add 1- For example, for my camping trip to Lake Tahoe, since I was only sleeping 2 nights, I packed 3 pairs of panties. I have always done this because knowing I would have a clean set gave me piece of mind. I don’t apply this rule to bras because I normally pack 1 regular bra, 1 strapless bra, and 1 sports bra. This should be more than enough and depending on what you are packing for, you might not even need to pack a strapless bra, because let’s be honest ladies, nobody has time to deal with that!
- Bring 3 pairs of shoes at most- Okay so this might seem impossible for those you you that love your shoes and must bring more than three pairs, but let me break it down for you:
- Comfortable shoes to walk in: This is sort of a given, but still very important! Pack a pair of shoes that you can walk the whole day in without any aches or pains. This can include (but is not limited to) a pair of Converse, Toms, or New Balance sneakers. If you really want to take the minimalist approach, running shoes can count for this category.
- Nice (but comfortable) sandals/flats OR boots: These are for those days that you want to go a little fancy and not wear sneakers. Depending on the season, you might want to wear sandals or flats in the spring/summer and boots in the fall and winter. Again, make sure that these shoes are comfortable!
- Running shoes: This category is a must for me because I can never pass up the chance to go on a run in a new place. For those that are set in not running at all, you can go ahead and skip this part.
- *Shower sandals (flip flops): I don’t count this as a separate pair of shoes because it’s just convenient to have a pair of simple rubber flip flops for shared showers and/or for the beach. Plus, these are typically simple to pack and don’t take up much space.
- **Wear the pair that takes up the most space: This will either be your running/walking shoes or boots. Wear them while you are traveling that way you don’t have to make space for them in your bag.
- Roll your clothes instead of folding- This is an absolute godsend in saving space! This approach has allowed me to use a backpack instead of a suitcase, acting as my carry on bag when I travel. My approach to this can be described as a fold, stack, and roll: I start by folding my clothes once lengthwise (hot dog style), stacking them (longest to shortest, heaviest on the bottom), and then I roll the stack as tightly as I can. I can usually do one stack and roll for all of my clothes if I am going on a weekend trip. For longer trips (1-2 weeks), I have one roll for bottoms and 1 roll for tops.
- Bring a scarf and light sweater/jacket- I am a firm believer in bringing a cool, patterned colorful scarf to complete a look. I don’t know why, but wearing a scarf makes me feel more put together! I also love to bring a light dry fit jacket (usually black) with me when I travel because airports and planes can get chilly. A cardigan is also a great substitution for the light jacket, if you are traveling to a warmer climate.
- Research the weather forecast of your destination- Doing this really does dictate what types of clothes and shoes to pack. While forecasts can change, it’s good to be prepared on what to expect during your stay.
So that pretty much wraps up my approach when it comes to packing for trips. When I follow these rules, I am able to fit everything in a backpack and use it as my carry-on. I rarely ever check in luggage because everything I need is with me and I don’t want to pay the check in fee. I will start to include my own packing lists from my previous travels to Hawaii, San Francisco, and Lake Tahoe, as well as a basic packing list for a weekend trip. These posts can be found in the ‘Packing Lists’ tab under ‘Travel’. I am also curious to see what rules you follow when you pack, so if you have any that I have not mentioned, please let me know in the comments!