Most of us are guilty of taking too much stuff with us when we travel. You know you won’t wear half the clothes and accessories you’ve packed, but which half won’t you need? Well, there’s the $64,000 question. But if you get it right when packing, you’ll have what you need–and only what you need.
1. Don’t pack more than two pairs of shoes and don’t pack more than two pairs of pants and/or two pairs of shorts.
2. Don’t pack more than one nice outfit.
3. Pack enough clothes for seven days, except for undergarments (bring enough socks and underwear for the whole trip). If traveling longer than that, start re-wearing these items. Or do laundry if that’s a possibility. On a cruise ship, you can send your clothes to the laundry for a fee, which is not much unless you send a lot of items. I’ve been known to throw out t-shirts on adventure trips and buy souvenir ones to replace them. Be sure to roll your clothes rather than fold them. It helps keep them from getting wrinkled and maximizes space. You can also choose to use Space Bags to maximize space. www.spacebags.com (FYI: I use two gallon baggies made by Ziploc. I get a box of them at the grocery store for about $5.)
4. Your clothes should be mix and match. This means you should be able to make different outfits using various pieces. If the shirt or shorts or pants or blazer isn’t in the same color scheme or able to be worn with other pieces of clothing, leave it out.
5. Make the most of your carry on. You are allowed to bring one carry on bag on the plane (although some airlines are now charging for this bag), you can also bring a purse or laptop bag. I prefer a backpack. It holds much more than a purse and is more practical for traveling. If you feel you must also have a purse, put a small one inside the backpack. I like to carry a lightweight, sturdy backpack that is weatherproof. It will keep your camera and documents dry and safe. Also, it is easier on your body as a heavy purse is bad for your shoulder and neck. And purse snatchers really like seeing tourists with big purses! Be sure to wear your jacket or coat on the plane. It will save a lot of room in your luggage and you will have it with you in case your luggage gets lost or stolen or you need it before you are reunited with your luggage. And no matter where you’re going, you need to take a jacket (even if you’re sure you won’t need a coat). Weather is unpredictable. It could be rainy or windy or unseasonably cool. Also, even in desert climates, it is often cool in the mornings and evenings.
If flying, see the latest luggage rules on www.tsa.gov.
If going on a tour, be sure to check the documents provided by the tour operator for special instructions. For example, on safari you’re often required to use a duffle bag, not a suitcase.