Packing for Travel: Reader Tips and Useful Links

In my last post, I wrote about how closet “cheat sheets” can help us to better manage our wardrobes.  One of the applications I mentioned for this type of wardrobe aid related to packing, and a number of readers shared that they use a cheat sheet or checklist when they travel. Since I am preparing for a trip later this week, I decided to focus today’s post on the topic of packing for travel.

Although I used to travel quite frequently, my trips have been few and far between in recent years.  In fact, the last trip I took was the one I wrote about in “On Packing, Travel, and Wardrobe Gaps” back in December.  Sadly, I found myself woefully unprepared for the cold weather I encountered during my trip to the Lake Tahoe area to visit family.  Although the primary topic of my December post centered on wardrobe gaps, I received many helpful packing tips from readers, many of whom are seasoned travelers.

Packing for Travel

Do you struggle with packing for travel? I know I do!

In today’s post, I share some of the best packing and traveling suggestions shared by readers in response to both my December post and last week’s post (see the comments sections of both posts for more details).  I also include some useful links from other bloggers related to preparing for travel, packing lightly, and capsule wardrobes for a variety of different trips.  I know I’ll be referring to all of these pointers as I get ready for my upcoming trip.

Travel Tips from Readers

As I mentioned, readers had a wealth of wisdom to share regarding packing for travel.  Included below are some of the best of these tips, with attribution to the commenters.

  • Bette suggested that we pick just one neutral (i.e. black, navy, grey, or brown) and build a travel wardrobe around that color.  Shoes should either match or coordinate with the core neutral – no packing both brown and black shoes!  She also recommended keeping a packed toiletry kit ready to go filled with travel-sized versions of cosmetics and hair products, and taking both a robe and slippers on all trips for warmth and foot protection.
  • Rebecca creates vision boards in Polyvore to plan her travel wardrobes (see her Paris vision board here) and favors packing items that can be worn multiple ways, including scarves.  Instead of packing bulky sweaters for cold weather, she takes advantage of layering to keep warm.  She re-wears the pieces of her travel capsule and focuses more on her travel activities than on what she’s wearing.
  • Dottie has been using travel checklists since 1985 and has versions for business trips, casual vacations, and big city vacations.  She plans her travel wardrobe weeks in advance and never checks bags.  Her travel capsule items are in a few basic colors and can easily be layered and mixed and matched. She always does laundry during her travels, even hand-washing garments in her hotel room when necessary.
  • Deby first consults the Weather Channel for the forecast for her destination and then makes a detailed list of everything she might possibly need for the activities of her trip.  She mostly packs knit separates, which can be easily rolled or folded into the small rolling suitcase which she uses for most of her trips.
  • FrugalFashionista travels a lot for her work and has homes in two different countries with varied climates.  She always uses a packing checklist and packs minimally for all of her trips.  She dresses up on the plane and packs layers to use for warmth as needed, including merino tights, a lightweight woolen shawl, and a down jacket. Her greatest challenge when packing is having variety in her footwear.
  • When selecting her travel wardrobe, Tonya always chooses a limited number of colors and considers her activities.  She makes sure to pack very warm lounge clothes, as most of the places she stays in are not well heated.  She tends to take the same types of trips and finds herself bringing very similar outfit options.  That said, when she books a trip, she considers what else she might need so she can have plenty of time to shop for those things in advance.
  • Before Pauline leaves on a trip, she creates and photographs outfits using her travel capsule pieces and stores those photos for easy reference on her smart phone.  This makes it very simple for her to get dressed each day and minimizes stress.  Her biggest challenge relates to packing make-up and toiletry items (I can relate…).
  • Maharani refers to a very helpful travel site called Roadwarriorette for packing tips and a travel checklist template (see here for suggestions on business travel and seasonal packing lists).  She suggests creating travel checklists well in advance of one’s travels and tweaking these lists as needed for each trip.  She always checks her luggage and believes that if more people did so, boarding and deplaning an airplane would be much easier for passengers.
  • Joanna keeps running lists for vacation planning on her phone and computer.  Her trips are often to the same places, so at the end of each trip, she notes what she didn’t wear and what she wishes she’d brought.  This helps her to plan better for her next trip.
  • Kim M. uses Evernote to create her packing lists and writes down all of the components of each outfit (i.e. dress, shrug/cardi, shoes, jewelry, purse) on a single line.  She labels each packing checklist by the location and year and uses her old lists as a base for when she travels to the same locations at a later date. She lists out every item she plans to take with her, which is tedious but makes her life simpler. When she travels by car, she also lists out which snacks to put in her cooler.
  • Terra can travel for up to a full week with a small carry-on bag that can fit under an airplane seat.  It has taken her a few years to learn the art of travelling light.  She used to always over-pack and get stressed out by travel, but she now finds it a “breeze.”  She attributes much of this positive change to down-sizing her wardrobe and only having items in her closet that she loves and wears often.

What the Bloggers Have to Say…

I love all of the helpful tips that readers shared following my previous posts.  I know I learned a lot from those who are far more experienced travelers than I!  I’ve also gained a wealth of knowledge from fellow bloggers who have written on the topics of travel and packing.  Here are some of the best articles I’ve bookmarked from within the “blogosphere”:

  • How to Pack” – J of J’s Everyday Fashion shares the 8-step process she uses to pack for a trip.  She also provides a case study of what she packed for a two-week trip to Europe, along with specific tips for travelling to that region.
  • Two Weeks in a Carry-On” – This article on Seventeenth & Irving shares a strategy for travelling for up to two weeks using only a carry-on bag. The author also shows how she mixes and matches her pieces for maximum outfit possibilities.
  • Three Footwear Travelling Tips” – I don’t know about you, but I struggle a lot in deciding which shoes to pack for my travels.  Angie of You Look Fab offers three tips to make this process easier. Be sure to read the comments on this post for lots of additional suggestions!
  • How to Pack for a Business Trip” – Those of you who travel for business should definitely check out this very comprehensive post from Bridgette Raes.  Bridgette not only helps you decide what to pack for a business trip, she also shows 14 business travel looks for inspiration.

Tips from Une Femme:

Deja of Une Femme d’un Certain Age is a champion traveler who has shared her expertise both on her own blog and in a guest post for Already Pretty.  Check out Deja’s wisdom in the following posts:

Tips from Wardrobe Oxygen:

Alison from Wardrobe Oxygen has been blogging for years and regularly writes about travel and capsule wardrobes. She has also responded to readers’ questions on these topics.  Here are a few of my favorite posts from Alison:

In Closing

I hope these tips from readers and bloggers will be helpful to you in preparing for your future travels.  Packing can definitely be stressful, but it can be mastered.  Of course, I have yet to master it, but I know all of the wonderful advice in this post will help to take me farther along that path.  After I return from my travels next week, I’ll do a debrief post to let you know how I did (don’t worry, there will be posts in between as well…).  Hopefully I’ll have better news to report than I did in December!


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Comments

  1. Debbie, these are great, and thanks for the shout-out! I really have found that the vision board helps me not only with packing plans, but (subsequently) with Project 333 plans. I look forward to digging further into tips for packing for trips!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Glad you liked this post, Rebecca! Sounds like you’re a pro at traveling, but we all can continue to learn new things in this arena. I need to give the vision board concept a try, as I loved yours!

  2. These are some great tips and links! Thank you for sharing!

    Another terrific place for travel ideas:
    http://travelfashiongirl.com/ – She has some super travel lists for all different destinations. There is also a group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/travelfashiongirls/

    I am currently traveling with a capsule wardrobe that is a smaller part of my Project 333. Here is a blog entry on what I packed: http://serendipitysjourney.blogspot.com/2014/04/travel-capsule-wardrobe-for-hawaii.html

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much for sharing these links, Kimberly. I look forward to digging in to the wonderful resources available on the Travel Fashion Girl site! I’m jealous that you get to spend 6 weeks in Hawaii… Seems like you did a great job with your packing. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  3. Great links! I’ve just started working on a packing list myself as my mom, my aunt, my two youngest daugters and me are going to Malta for a week in the beginning of June. Of course – you know me – I’ll use GoRandom for it. But I need categories to select from and these links you’ve provided are excellent. I’ll also be using the http://travelfashiongirl.com/maximista-packing-list/ for this trip. Mmmm Malta – I can’t wait 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing the link to the Maximista Packing List, Mette. I just got access to all of the wonderful free resources from Travel Fashion Girl. I don’t have time to review all of them before I go on this trip, but I know they will come in handy in the future. Your trip to Malta sounds exciting! My husband went there once when he lived in England and he had good things to say about it. Enjoy!

  4. Carolyn says:

    I live in Europe and go on a lot of trips. In fact I have been away the past 3 weekends and have made 10 trips so far this year. I feel that I have packing down to a fine art now. I used to be disastrous at it. These are my tips:

    *You don’t need as much as you think.
    *Pick neutral colors and solid clothes, then add a couple of prints in a top or scarf
    *Make outfits. Don’t throw in random clothes. Include something dressier. I always take a favorite silk tunic dress with me which works in all seasons either with tights and boots or sandals or heels and a silk top.
    *Don’t forget something comfortable to lounge around in. I always pack leggings and a t-shirt.
    *Don’t forget a cardigan.

    • I think one of the best things to remember, too, is that what works to shift work outfits to after-work outfits works for travel, too. Black pants + black sweater + jacket + dark walking shoes can be great for daytime, and then if you don a nice pashmina, dressier flats, and fun earrings, you’re ready for dinner. You don’t need an entirely new outfit for the second part of the day; just different accessories.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for these excellent tips, Carolyn and Rebecca. I think the first one – you don’t need as much as you think – applies to our overall wardrobes as well as for travel! I’m learning that more and more as I go along. Better to have fewer quality items I love than a bunch of mediocre pieces. I’ve learned to only pack my favorite items for trips, but I’ve come to feel that I should have ONLY favorites in my closet overall!

  5. Carolyn says:

    I have 2 toiletries bags permanently packed. One is for short trips such as weekends so the containers are smaller and the other is for a week or more. Through trial and error I learned what I needed in them. I have a permanent travel make-up bag partially packed with small brushes and a foundation decanted into a small screwtop container then I just add my standard day-time makeup which is a blush, one lipstick, lip pencil & a gloss, one nude eyeshdow, and eyeliner & mascara. I add one night time lipstick, and a highlighter. I take my Babyliss Big Hair rotating hair dryer brush so my hair is always groomed.
    I pack miminal jewellery and always simple silver and/or gold – maybe a couple of necklaces and a bracelet, that’s all

    • Debbie Roes says:

      What wonderful ideas, Carolyn. Thanks so much for sharing! I don’t travel enough to have toiletry bags permanently packed, but I’m hoping to step up my travel frequency soon. It definitely saves space to use smaller sizes of cosmetics and hair products. I can take up half a suitcase with that type of stuff alone!

  6. An especially well-timed article for me as I am about to do the second draft of my packing list for 2 weeks in Brazil at the end of June! While I’m not aiming for carry-on only, I am aiming to pack light. And luckily we will be based in the same hotel for the two weeks, so pack less and do laundry may be my plan.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      How exciting that you’re going to Brazil, Melissa! I hope to visit there one day. I’m glad you found this post helpful. Be sure to check out the comments and links from readers, as the great tips just keep on coming. Enjoy your June adventure!

  7. Hi Debbie… Don’ t forget to show us what you wear and pack! Great job!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Will do, Zoe. I will do a “debrief post” shortly after I return, either at the end of next week or early the following week.

  8. I always enjoy reading about packing tips and I’ve been spending some time on my blog discussing traveling lately. This is a wonderful compilation of tips, thanks for the hard work assembling these! My favorite tip is to use one core neutral as the base, this really helps eliminating excessive shoes in the bag. My trips got a lot easier once I started to do this.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve enjoyed reading your posts related to travel, Lisa. Your tip about one core neutral is really key. I used to make things far more complicated than they need to be. I’m far from being a packing pro, but I’m making progress…

  9. Cornelia says:

    You shared some wonderful tips, Debbie. I too have evolved from an over packer on my yearly trips to Germany to streamlining it way down to one basic neutral plus. When in Germany I stay with family so washing is an easy option, but when travelling stateside and staying in hotels I learned to favour certain Eileen Fisher pieces that can be washed in the sink at night, hung to dry and are good to go the next morning. Also, I always travel with silk scarves. They keep me from looking the same every day.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I used to be a MAJOR over-packer, too, Cornelia. I still pack a lot compared to many people, but I used to overdo it on a grand scale. I love your tip about washing things in the sink. I haven’t done that much, but I think it’s an excellent idea and will work for many people

  10. I just returned from a trip to NYC, Salem-MA, and CT and I think this was my best packing job ever. I chose black and white, grey, and denim for colors in knit fabrics that wouldn’t wrinkle. I brought 1 solid grey top, 2 solid black tops, 3 black,white, and grey printed tops, 3 pairs of black pants, 1 pair of jeans, 2 black dresses, a grey open cardigan that went with everything, a black jacket with a hood, a tall pair of black boots, and a pair of black flats. For the plane ride I wore a black and white print top, jeans, and black ankle boots. I also had several pieces of jewelry to keep things interesting. This trip I dressed up more and did different kinds of things than I usually do when I travel. For the NYC portion of the trip I was able to fit everything into a weekend bag. One of the two friends I went with had a large suitcase and a bag and the other had two bags. I felt like I was dressed as well as they were. The only difference I noticed was they had several purses and I had just the one and that was not a problem. I love this way of packing. It was so much easier and required so much less thought. I hope that you have a great trip Debbie!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Sounds like a very exciting trip, Tonya, and you seemed to have done a great job with the packing. I’m sure you looked great in all of your black, white, grey, and denim pieces. I may “steal” your travel capsule ideas as I like to wear those colors. I always use just one purse when I travel, but I still need to streamline the clothing options a bit…

  11. Thanks for compiling such a great list of links. I’ve enjoyed every one of them so far this morning! I definitely agree with everyone who says to narrow down your color palette. Mine is currently white, teal, blue and denim. Everything works together beautifully.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Glad you’ve been enjoying the links, Kim. I think that narrowing the color palette is really a top 3 tip for packing. It’s also helpful for our wardrobes at large. Your palette of white, teal, blue, and denim sounds very nice.

  12. Excellent post. Living and traveling light is a skill and an art form, that has transformed my life offering me more joy, and less stress. I agree with all of the travel tips mentioned.

    Also, each time I travel (which is fairly often for business and for pleasure) I learn something new about packing light. It is a process that evolves.

    *The most important item when packing light is the suitcase you bring.*

    For air travel I prefer carryon only. Often my trips require multiple flights, and more travel when I reach my destination. Experience with overly crowded flights has taught me that I’m better off with a soft-sided suitcase. I have two soft-sided suitcases. One is smaller (Patagonia Transport Shoulder Bag 26L) and it can fit under my seat. But I can easily pack for 3-5 days with it. I also bring a tote or a medium sized purse as my personal item.

    My other soft-sided suitcase is larger (Patagonia Transport M.L.C. 45L) and I can pack for two weeks, or for a month with it. Or sometimes I use it for short trips when I want to bring a bit more stuff.

    My small rolling suitcase is used for train travel, or car trips. While a carryon sized rolling bag can be a good choice for some trips, it can become a huge burden on some flights. The main reason is because far too many people bring the maximum size allowed rolling carryon, which is too big and it takes up too much space in the overhead bins. Also, if the flight is too crowded they will ask you to check it.

    *Toiletries*
    Get those down to a minimum. I agree with Carolyn. I do what she does and I too have learned by trail and error.

    *Footwear*
    I build my entire packing list based on where I’m going, what I will be doing, and appropriate footwear for the trip. Usually I limit it to the pair of shoes I’m wearing on the flight, and bring a second pair. But sometimes a third pair is needed, and that forces me to limit the amount of clothes I can pack in order to accommodate the shoes.

    • Carolyn says:

      I agree with Terra here about suitcases. I also use soft sided bags now. For short trips or summer holidays I use a Samsonite Motio duffle bag. It is still a very generous 45 L but is carry on size and can be squashed into spaces. For longer trips or trips in winter when I need to take snow gear and thick coats I use a Samsonite rolling duffle. It is still very lightweight, compact but fits a lot of things if required. I no longer use my rolling suitcases.
      There is nothing worse than being weighed down by too much luggage.

      • I agree, there is nothing worse than being weighed down by too much luggage. When in doubt smaller is better. With larger luggage there is a tendency to over pack. It is amazing how much stuff can fit into a 45 L bag or duffle. It is very roomy, and this is why for short trips I often prefer to go even smaller.

        • Whenever I leave the USA, I refuse to take rolling luggage. I’ve done my time nearly breaking wrists trying to carry suitcases up hostel/european hotel steps, and rolling across cobblestone pathways. I keep it to my Kelty bag these days, and a crossboy bag, or my longchamp.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks so much for sharing these additional tips, Terra! I agree that the suitcase selection is paramount. I think part of why I overpack is because I have the room to do so. If I start to travel more often, I may pick up one of those Patagonia bags you mentioned (or the Samsonite recommended by Carolyn). Our suitcase options are limited, so I usually take the large bag. Since I have the space, I throw more things in there. But that doesn’t help me to pack wisely… I agree with you about limiting footwear. Shoes take a lot of space and weigh a lot. We don’t need as many shoes as we think we do!

      • Although red oxx bags are spendy, I absolutely LOVE my Sky Train carry-on bag!!! You can find it at http://www.redoxx.com/sky-train/91019/product. I have it in the gorgeous Amethyst purple color. What I love about these bags are they are made in Montana, fabulous customer service, lifetime guarantee, and they are made like a tank. Indestructible, at least mine is after 5 years so far. I’ve had no difficulty carrying this onto planes. It’s so easy to carry in back pack style, leaving hands free for whatever. Also, this one bag held everything I needed for a 10 day trip to Ireland and England. FYI, if you need a shopping tote, the red oxx Market Tote is a workhorse too. I have several that I take when I go for groceries and the bag boys always remark how sturdy it is. My only problem is I can fill it so full I can barely lift it.

      • The ONLY bag I take is a small 12″x18″x7″ carry-on (no wheels) that has hidden backpack straps as well as a shoulder strap– http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___60795 (I covered the giant logo with black adhesive tape). I use packing cubes and sleeves from various vendors to organize and hold my clothes in place in this soft-side bag. I generally pack no more than 12 lbs. of clothes (the bag is about 1 lb.) including shoes and 3-1-1 bag. The bag is about $30 so it’s a real bargain (sort of a poor man’s version of the Red Oxx and Tom Bihn bags). So far it’s held up very well — no baggage handlers to contend with! I like this bag because it holds a well-edited wardrobe for any length of stay, fits on planes and trains, and can be carried up the steep stairs of a B&B or from a train station to a hotel with ease. As has been mentioned here, having a small but flexible wardrobe is key — and being prepared for washing (or having your clothes laundered) along the way — just like at home! There are websites dedicated to one-bag travel that provide a lot of tips (Google “one-bag travel”). For me, the key is finding the right shoes for my fussy feet — comfy walking shoes that don’t scream “tourist” and attractive and comfy day-to-night dressier shoes. Oh, and cheap flip-flops to wear as slippers/shower shoes/beach shoes, etc.
        Thanks for this post, Debbie. As always, lots of great info from you and readers.

  13. Forgot to say I’m on my way to NYC for 5 days for 2 weddings and several business dinners. Wearing 3 items with 8 more items and a pair of shoes in 1/2 of a 20″ carry on where other half has my husband’s clothes. This is possible because we use pack it cubes. The bag is Tumi Vapor and we can be fine for a month or more. He takes a briefcase and I carry a Longchamp le pliage bag. I wear a lot of Eileen Fisher and scarves. Solid basics with patterns in accessories. Thanks Debbie.

    • My large Longchamp Le Pliage is definitely a travel workhorse. It’s been all over the world with me, holds up really well, and easy to keep clean. I refer to it as my Mary Poppins bag because I’m always digging random crap out of it, and it never seems like it’s full!

      • Usually my le Pliage is what I use to hold all that is in the shared bag currently when I travel alone. Love these bags! Have been in a Hellish travel situation today where we would have been separated from checked baggage several times. 700 flights cancelled today in Chicago. LEARN TO CARRY ON!

        • I’m also a Longchamp Le Pliage’ and ‘Small Planetes’ fan. Initially I thought I would use them for travel only. But once I discovered how wonderful they are these have become my go-to bags. They are light and both the medium, or the large, can hold a fair amount, and can fold flat for easy storage at home, or fold into my carry-on bag for those times when I want a tote on the plane and still have a small purse when I arrive. While the Le Pliage’ is more casual, the ‘Small Planetes’ offers more of a dressy look. I love both.

          And Melissa, I agree with you about not taking rolling luggage to certain locales. I too have had my share of needing to carry a (heavy-ish) rolling bag up train station steps, or on cobble roads. My Patagonia MCL can convert to a backpack, and I love the freedom it offers me when I need it.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Sorry to hear about your hellish travel situation, Zoe! I’m glad you are using a carry-on bag and will avoid the type of problems many encounter in light of cancelled flights. I hope the rest of your journey is smooth sailing!

          Terra, thanks for the other bag suggestions. I am learning so much from all of you! I am definitely a major novice when it comes to travel, but I CAN learn…

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I love all the bag recommendations that are coming through! Your NYC travel capsule sounds really workable, Zoe. I need to look into pack-it cubes, as I am not familiar with them. I agree that focusing more on accessories can help us to get extra mileage out of our travel wardrobes (and our wardrobes in general).

      • Debbie, Eagle Creek and Amazon for pack its. Usually my le Pliage is what I use to hold all that is in the shared bag currently when I travel alone. Love these bags! Have been in a Hellish travel situation today where we would have been separated from checked baggage several times. 700 flights cancelled today in Chicago. LEARN TO CARRY ON!

  14. Mrs.M in MI says:

    A couple years ago, our luggage never arrived in Switzerland and my husband and I spent ten days hiking the Alps in the clothes on our backs. After that experience, I KNOW I can always travel with less. In fact, I most always travel with two pairs of shoes, two bottoms, two tees, and two cardigans. A little bit of laundry soap and a sink and I can go forever.

    My tip for beginners is not to stress out about capsules and mixing & matching, but simply think about where you will be, what the weather may be, and what you will be doing each day, and plan outfits for every day of the trip. Bonus points if they all use the same 2-3 pairs of shoes, but if not, don’t worry about it. Now you have packed things you will wear and nothing more!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Wow, 10 days without luggage! I think I would have freaked out, Mrs. M, but it sounds like you learned some valuable lessons from that experience. Thanks for sharing your tip for beginners. Even at age 47, I think I’m still a traveling novice. I used to travel more often than I have lately, but I’ve never been good at packing. Your tips make a lot of sense.

    • What converted me to carry-on only travel (and the smaller wardrobe this necessitates) is arriving for a business trip in the early 1980s to a city on the East Coast while my luggage enjoyed a trip to San Francisco and back. Fortunately, I arrived in business-appropriate clothes and with the purchase of an additional blouse and some undies, I made it through the whole trip with essentially what I wore on the plane (and now I ALWAYS fly in clothes I could “live in” for a week even with my carry-on under the seat in front of me). Having a carry-on also means being able to catch another flight, dash through the airport, and so on.

  15. I don’t travel much and don’t have a lot to add… But the best advice IMO is to plan ahead and then just ENJOY 🙂

  16. FrugalFashionista says:

    Great tips! Have a wonderful trip,and it’s not the end of the world if you forget something – I nearly always do… Looking forward to hearing how it went!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You’re so right, FrugalFashionista! I’m on my trip now and already feel like I forgot a few things and brought a few things I shouldn’t have, but I’m making notes and will learn from my mistakes. It’s good to know that even a seasoned traveler like you doesn’t always get it all right!

  17. I just heard last week that one airline is now charging carry-on bag fees as well as checked-bag fees. At some point we will be wearing our entire travel wardrobe on board to avoid the need for any luggage. Geesh!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Wow, that’s crazy, Dottie! One thing I did notice is that Southwest (who lets passengers take two bags for free) is charging $75 for bags that are over 50 pounds. That’s new since I flew Southwest in December. Luckily, my bag was not over 50 pounds!

  18. GingerR says:

    I agonize about packing. It’s so hard to choose what to take.
    However, it doesn’t stop me from taking and usually checking a bag. If I’m going off on a big trip, spending a small fortune on airfare and lodging, using my precious PTO, I want to have the wardrobe items I need to look nice. I always have more time on vacation so I like to dress nicely and have the elements I need to do that.

    I like to book into hotels/motels with fitness centers so I’m always dragging a workout outfit with me. Last Christmas we stayed at a motel with a pool and I took my suit. It made a trip for a family visit a little more special.

    If I traveled for business I’m sure I’d pare my luggage down, but when it’s for pleasure then I splurge. My steadfast rule is that I must be able to handle my own bag, usually I go with a larger checked bag on wheels and a small carry-on. If I’m doing trains abroad then I made sure that I can pick my bag up and put it into an overhead rack unassisted.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I always pack workout clothes, too, Ginger, and almost always use them. The shoes take up a lot of space, but I use them for walking, too (I love my long walks!). I always check a bag, too. Once, my bag got lost, but I got it later that same day. I know others haven’t been so lucky, though! Your rule about being able to handle your own bag is a good one. I don’t think I could put my current bag into an overhead rack, but I’m not travelling by train abroad (this time).

  19. nutrivore says:

    Ever since an airline lost my husband’s bag on a business trip, we’ve both sworn off all checked in bags. For the past three years, we’ve been going for a month’s trip to India with one carry on each. Very light (made of heavy nylon with no hard sides or wheels), and can be converted from a shoulder bag to a backpack. We can easily sprint through airports with these. Mind you, we carry a decent amount of clothes since we often have to attend weddings, etc. Indian weddings involve several changes of clothes too.

    Some brands we like –
    Osprey Porter.
    MEI Executive Overniter
    and bags by Red Oxx and Tom Bihn.

    The lightest weighs 2.5 pounds. The heaviest weights 4, and each can carry as much as a medium sized suitcase without a problem.

    Also this ergonomic strap which goes on all our bags:
    http://www.amazon.com/0901012-S-O-S-briefcases-luggage-neoprene/dp/B000EEMA8M

    And yes, carry dry toiletries if you can. Like a small bar soap cum shampoo instead of liquids. Add water and stretch if for longer without carrying as much. Or toothpowder instead of paste. Or buy them locally instead of carrying them.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your travel tips, Nutrivore! I definitely think I need a lighter bag. I’m impressed that you were able to travel for a month in India with only a carry-on bag. You’re really a “pro” and I could learn a lot from you. I like the toiletry tips. I think I’m worse with those than I am with the clothes at this point!

  20. My blog is devoted to travelling light, but I still picked up lots of tips here. Thanks!

    One tip I can share is to wear gauzy, patterned long-sleeved blouses as scarves. Many people take scarves with them when travelling to jazz up their outfits, but they can weigh as much as or more than a gauzy blouse (made of polyester or silk, for example). Just roll up the body of the blouse, stick it behind your neck, and use the arms to tie it in front. Doing double-duty really saves weight.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I love this tip, Laurel, and I look forward to checking out your blog on travelling light. I’m sure I will learn a lot from you by perusing your pages. Perhaps I will pack much more wisely – and lightly – on my next trip!

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