One thing I’ve learned when packing for a trip or packing for travel, less is always better. Whether you’re packing for a 1-week trip or a 1-month trip, you need about the same amount of clothing. Packing fewer items means your bag is lighter to carry around, there are fewer items to unpack when you arrive at your destination, and you have fewer things to keep track of or worry about losing. Packing lighter also saves money because you can manage your luggage yourself since you can carry it on your own. You’re more likely to take a train, bus or walk when you have fewer bags and it’s easier to get around.
When we pack for a trip, I print out my handy-dandy travel wardrobe chart and pack according to it. The goal is to take carry-on bags only, even for a 3-week trip. We each have a small pull bag that easily fits in an overhead bin. I like how this bag has a low center of gravity so it doesn’t easily topple over, even with the handle extended.
Here are my travel packing tips:
- Think small: By using a small bag, you won’t be tempted to put more inside. Well, you might be tempted, but it won’t fit.
- Coordinate colors: It’s easier to vary your outfits when all of your t-shirts or tops go with your skirt or pants or whatever.
- Double duty: Plan for items to be used for more than one thing. Men’s shorts can be used for exercising in and as swim trunks. Dresses can be used for sight-seeing and as a bathing suit cover-up.
The only exception to this is if we’re bringing camping gear on the airplane and then we pack a duffel bag with a tent and 4-sleeping bags. We’ve camped our way across Austria and this summer we’ll camp in Spain. We may have to bring 2 tents though because our kids are much bigger now!
I made this chart after our first home exchange to Paris, when we had a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. Back then, my kids still needed help packing. Today, with a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old, they’re responsible for packing their own clothes but I do encourage them to make sure they’ve got everything on the list. I do have one rule about what can not go in a suitcase: no polar fleece. While I love polar fleece, it takes up too much room in a little carry-on bag.
PDF version of travel packing checklist is here and it also includes a chart of what to wear on the airplane. Of course it does! Travel Packing Checklist
Think fewer items when packing, not more. You’ll be so much happier when you arrive at your destination with your small little suitcase in hand rather than waiting for a big, bulky bag that was lost somewhere over the Atlantic. The last time I checked a suitcase, my clothing didn’t arrive for several days and I ended up having to wear my dear mother-in-law’s underwear! THAT is another story…
Go Gingham related links:
These bags are from Atlantic Luggage and I suggest a color other than black, which everyone has. Our bags all have matching ribbons which are not gingham (although I wish they were!) so they’re easy to spot. This bag is regularly on sale at my local luggage store so check the ads and wait for a sale if you have to purchase a new one.