I was never one to be very good at packing. I never learned how to pack light or how to choose pieces to make the most of what I was taking. That was until I got married and had kids! Having kids means learning how to get more out of less. This became very clear to us after a 2 week trip to Istanbul where we somehow ended up taking about 6 large bags; for 3 people! And one was a 9 month old! It was a disaster. We learned our lesson and have come to refine our packing technique with every trip.
After watching many YouTube videos and reading many blog posts about packing light along with a great deal of trial and error I want to share some packing tips so you can spend less time packing/unpacking and enjoy your vacation!
1. Check the Weather: This seems so obvious but you'd be surprised how many people arrive somewhere and realize they didn't pack the right clothing. I know that because it has happened to me! When I say check the weather, it doesn't just mean check the temperature. It means that you understand what that weather will feel like so you can pack accordingly. For example, 15 degrees Celsius in Edmonton Alberta, Canada is actually beautiful Spring or Fall weather. It's a light jacket or no jacket kind of weather because of the dryness. BUT 15 degrees Celsius in Cairo Egypt is actually very cold! The humidity presents a coldness that reaches your bones.
2. Don't Pack Last Minute: You don't need to pack a month in advance; although my kids like to do that. But you shouldn't be packing the night before your 8 am flight. This is when you will likely forget to pack something. A few days/weeks prior to your flight, go ahead and start making a list of things you want to take with you. This should include how many of each article of clothing you want to take, toiletries, medication you don't want to forget, electronics and chargers, earphones, etc. Depending on the length of your trip, you should be fully packed at least 2 days ahead to give time to pick up missed items, repack and weigh your baggage.
3. Channel the 3 Little Bears: Sometimes it is hard to figure out how much you need to pack. Over packing is so common and I am no exception. It can be hard to pick and choose what you want to take, I want to take EVERYTHING just encase! Even though we travel often it can still be hard to gauge, especially if it is a new destination. If I am really trying to pack light, I usually aim to pack enough for 1/3 to 1/2 of the trip and re wear my clothing. So a 2 week trip means I take enough outfits for 5-7 days. Unless you are backpacking across Europe or hiking Mt. Everest, you don't need to pack too too light. Make sure you still have everything you will need and a bit extra; a LITTLE BIT.
4. Choose Versatile Pieces: Think of your suitcase is kind of like a mini capsule wardrobe. Choose a color pallet that is cohesive and versatile. Building your outfits from neutrals and basics is the best way. Sounds boring right? Not at all! When your main pieces are easy to mix and match you actually get more outfits out of what you have packed. You then have more room for accessories, like statement necklaces, scarves, an extra pair of shoes or a handbag.
5.Pack for Your Activities:
This means you actually have to know what you are going to be doing in advance. If you prefer spontaneity, then just go to Trip Advisor and see what kinds of activities you might want to do. Packing to hike in Grand Canyon National Park, is different than a resort stay in Mexico which is different than a safari trip through South Africa.
6.Pack from Head to Toe: I learned this trick from my husband, a man who spends the majority of life travelling. To be sure you haven't forgotten anything, think about each part of your body and what you need for it.
-Head: head covering, makeup, toiletries, accessories, glasses, contact lenses and solution, etc.
-Body: undergarments, tank top, t shirt, blouse, sweater, etc, coat
-Legs: pants, shorts, skirts, underwear
-Feet: socks, shoes
If after all this, you have forgotten something (which you might) don't panic! If you just keep calm you will surely be able to find whatever it is that you left behind. No matter where you are, you will undoubtedly find some kind of replacement or you will find a way to do without.
Next time you are on the beach in Cuba, or exploring the great castles of Great Britain be sure to think of me! Please also share any packing tips you have! I'd love to hear what you learned through your experiences!