Happy Friday, everyone! All this travel for me has meant I’ve been planning, packing, unpacking, and repacking for what seems like a month. I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years, actually. I am one of those people who stands at the check-in line simultaneously untying their shoes and pulling their electronics out of their carry-on luggage to go through security. And I always get a sense of satisfaction when I use every item that I’ve packed in my suitcase and didn’t bring anything that ended up coming home untouched. So I figured I could share a few of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up! In this post are five useful packing tips for a long trip. I’ll throw a few for shorter jaunts your way in a little while 🙂
1. Make a list.
And stick to it! Seriously, if there is one thing that makes packing a breeze or turns it into a tornado of your possessions, it’s making a list. Write down everything you think you will need to wear or use for each day of your trip. I mean EVERYTHING. Not just shirts and socks, but the number of each item and sometimes even the specifics:
- Blue striped workout tank top
- Pink Thorlo socks (or just 3 pairs of running socks – not ‘socks’!)
- Band-Aids (not just ‘first aid kit’)
This kind of detail might seem crazy, but when you’re frantically rummaging through your suitcase trying to find the Tylenol and you realize you just threw in a toiletry bag or first aid kit without checking to make sure it was there, you’ll be happy! Making a list also makes it easier to see on paper exactly what items of clothing you’re bringing, and to cut down on the amount of stuff by planning to mix and match.
2. Mix and match.
Another key to efficient packing is only bringing along multipurpose items. For example, if you’re going on a 14-day trip, stick to a basic color scheme and bring along four or five pairs of bottoms and five or six tops, and a dress or two. Make sure they’re mostly in the same general palette, and then see how many outfit combinations you can come up with! Even if you really love your bright orange flowing halter top, if it doesn’t match most of the pants, shorts or skirts you’re bringing, leave it behind. You’ll only be able to wear it once or twice and your lavender halter top might be good for three times as many outfits 🙂 Notice the numbers here – bring along some Woollite or other hand-washing liquid to clean workout wear, tops, and undergarments, so you can travel with what you’d need for half your stay. Since you’ll be able to mix and match your pieces, it won’t mean repeating any outfits! And a pro tip-within-a-tip – if you plan to run or walk or otherwise exercise a lot, bring workout wear that can double as daywear.
3. Layer up.
This goes along with mixing and matching, but depending on your destination, bring clothes that can be easily layered to take you from day to night. It might be 80 degrees in the midsummer sun at 3pm, and shorts and a tank top will do, but it’s much easier to bring along a few light jackets or cardigans that match most of your pieces so you can throw one on and not need to come up with an entirely new ensemble. Layering is why I am a big fan of leggings for traveling (and for always, but that’s besides the point). They are super easy to wear with any kind of top and are a basic black base for your legs that can accommodate whatever else you’ve got on. They’re also usually made of quick-drying material, which is great for that hand-washing and re-wearing.
4. Packing cubes are your friend.
I’m not sure how I ever used to pack my luggage without these. They’re so handy for separating different clothing and sorting it so you can see whether you’ve got everything with just a quick glance. And once you arrive, you can either keep them in your luggage or put them in drawers or on shelves as is, and know where the socks are when you need them! Some people use space bags to literally suck the extra air out to get more room, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you’re moving. You end up with heavier luggage and wrinkly clothes. These cubes are just for organization and efficiency.
5. Survey it all when you’re done for a double check.
An old adage is to pack everything you think you need, then dive back into your luggage and take one (or more) things out. I try to make myself do this every time I’m getting ready to travel, whether it’s for two nights or twelve. We really never need as much stuff as we think we do. And traveling is so much easier when you’re not lugging your entire life along behind you, either metaphorically or literally.
And that’s all I’ve got for this Friday – but not all I have on packing tips! While these five useful packing tips for a long trip are the basics, I’ll be back with more on packing for a shorter trip, and showing you an entire vacation’s worth of mix and match!
Do you tend to pack too much or too little?
Are you a pack-in-advance person or the type to throw everything in while you’re heading out the door?
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4 thoughts on “Five Useful Packing Tips for a Long Trip”
Great tips! I think I do most of these intuitively, except for the packing cubes, I’ve never used those! I’m also the person at the airport who has their shoes off well before they get to the front of the security line and has already taken her laptop out of her bag, etc – and I don’t even fly that often! Haha.
I tend to overpack. There are always at least a few things I don’t end up using. I like it that way, though. I’d much rather be overpacked than underpacked. While it’s annoying to have stuff I don’t end up using, it’s comforting to at least know it’s there, you know? I have a big fear of underpacking – I’d hate to be somewhere and not have something I need, and more than likely have to pay exorbitant prices to buy it locally.
The cubes are great, you should give them a try! And I hate that too – I always need something though, so better to underpaid and need it rather than pay to check a bag and for whatever was forgotten!
I always pack too much running gear (sometimes I forget I can wash things….) and never enough “nice” daytime clothes. Haha. Clearly we see where my priorities lie. And I try to pack in advance, but I usually end up doing it in stages, and therefore forget what I put in and end up packing, unpacking, re-packing my bag multiple times. One thing I ALWAYS forget = extra contact lenses…
I always pack so many workout clothes, and not much else – luckily for this California trip that’s appropriate!