Vacation Packing & How to Strike the Perfect Balance
There isn’t anything that gets the adrenaline pumping more than knowing that the trip you’ve been planning for months is just a few days away.
Whether it’s an exotic beach getaway, sightseeing in an Old World city, or backpacking through a wild wilderness untouched by civilization, you are counting down the hours until takeoff. But first, you must perform the ritual that is the bane of all travelers: packing. Ugh. What do you take? What do you leave? Will it be too much? Too little? Here are a few tips to reduce packing anxiety and find the perfect balance between overpacking and underpacking.
Make a Checklist
Experienced travelers all agree: a checklist is a great tool to help make sure you don’t miss anything. Start making your list a few days – or even a few weeks – ahead of time. Keep it on your phone, on the fridge, or next to you on your desk. Whenever you think of something, add it. And you can break your list down into categories: clothes, shoes, toiletries, electronics, important documents, makeup, etc. A checklist will help you to not forget small things like hair ties or charging cords.
Plan Your Outfits
Sometimes the anxiety of not having everything we’re used to having at home leads to overpacking. The phrase “I might need this…” often precedes putting an item into our suitcase that never even gets taken out. A good rule of thumb is: lay out all the clothes you think you’ll need, and then take only half of them.
Plan your outfits ahead of time, and bring clothes that are easy to mix and match; just a few items can be turned into a surprising number of different outfits. Basics, solids, and neutral colors work best. Prints should all be in the same color palette. If you will need a jacket or coat, bring one that matches everything. And wear your bulkiest items on the plane to save room in your luggage.
Three Pairs of Shoes
Shoes occupy a lot of real estate in a suitcase. So bring only the shoes you need, and chances are, you can get by nicely with only three pairs. If you’re going to the beach, bring flip-flops or sandals. A pair of sneakers is good for off-beach activities, and a pair of dressy shoes can be worn for your evenings out. If you’ll be spending a lot of time in a city, bring one or two pairs of comfortable walking shoes; if you’ll be doing a lot of walking, it is good to switch out your shoes from one day to the next. And remember, you’ll need to wear a pair of shoes while traveling – that counts as one of the three.
Use Travel Sizes
Soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion, perfume, cologne, and makeup can end up taking up much-needed space in your luggage. Travel sizes – which can be obtained at most pharmacies and supermarkets – can free up that room for other necessary things (and if you’re flying, you can’t take large containers of liquid anyway). If you must have a specific brand that’s not available in a small size, pour a little into a smaller container to take with you. And remember – if you’re not too fussy, most hotels provide complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. Or, there’s certain to be a nearby store where you can buy your assorted sundries after you arrive.