I’m not kidding when I say that packing is one of my favorite pastimes. Is that weird? Probably, but I don’t really care, because it really makes me that happy.
The reason I love packing so much is that it gets me excited for the adventure that’s about to happen! I start visualizing myself there, I start planning all the fun activities, and I just get myself in the mindset for whatever magic is about to unfold.
I’ve also always loved clothes. I like to express myself through what I’m wearing, and that’s something I’ve been leaning into again after a long hiatus of extreme minimalism (think, living out of a backpack for 10 years). But hey, even when I was a grubby backpacker who carried all of my few belongings around with me, I still got excited to pack.
Also, you don’t have to buy an entire new outfit for every trip. I’m a big fan of wearing the shit out of your clothes, rather than just a one and done situation. I’m also a big fan of buying (and selling) on Poshmark, which you can learn more about here.
This post will cover how to pack for your next trip by reminding you of what to check before you start packing, as well as a comprehensive packing essentials list you won’t want to live without. Lastly, I’ll cover 3 packing strategies that will change the way you plan for your next trip.
How To Pack For Your Next Trip
Whether you’re going for a quick weekend away, or a month-long trip across the world- packing is a vital piece of your travel experience. A bad packing job can definitely negatively impact your trip, while strategic packing can really come in clutch in moments you might least expect.
You want to strike the balance of having enough so that you’re comfortable, but not so much that you’re weighed down. It’s a whole lot easier to throw everything under the sun into a giant roller, and call it a day. But it’s no longer easy when you’re huffing and puffing that bag all around with you. You’ll regret the heavy load, I swear.
The ability to strike that perfect balance of enoughness without heaviness is a craft, and one that might need to be practiced a few times until you really master it. The most important thing I want you to remember with all of this is to have fun. Your packing experience is really the start of your trip, so make it a good one.
What To Check Before You Pack
Sometimes we have these ideas of what a place is going to be like, without really digging too deeply into it. The below list is a reminder to check these 6 items before you start packing, in order to ensure a productive packing experience.
First thing you always want to check before you start packing for your trip is the weather. Hell, you might want to check this before you book your trip, but if it’s too late- then you just have to work with what you got.
Remember that there are many places with only two seasons (rainy and dry), instead of four seasons. Don’t forget that countries in the opposite hemisphere have opposite seasons. And also make sure to continually check the weather leading up to your trip, particularly if you’re going somewhere where the weather changes quickly (like the tropics).
Next up, you’ll want to make sure you have an understanding of the culture in the place where you’re going. Culture, religious backgrounds, and beliefs can play a major role in what’s appropriate to wear. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with this seeming dress code, but it is in your best interest to at least respect it.
Otherwise, you’ll likely get unwanted attention, which isn’t fun at all.
Now you’ll want to have a good understanding of what you’re planning on doing on this trip. Are you raging at clubs all day and night? Or, are you on a bougie beach getaway? Perhaps you’re boating through the Amazon, or hiking new trails regularly. Whatever it may be, remember to pack according to what you plan on doing.
A great thing to check before you start packing is if there are laundry services available where you’re going. This can cut your packing in half, which can clearly make a huge difference in lightening your load. It’s also important to remember that there might not be laundry. Or, there might not be a dyer, and you’re there in the winter without a lot of sunshine. Keep all of these components in mind.
Available Stores At Destination
Last thing to consider before you start packing are the available stores at your final destination. If you’re going to New York City for the weekend, you literally don’t need to pack a damn thing, because there’s everything you can need and more right there at your fingertips. Whereas, if you’re going to a remote village in Africa, you’re going to want to bring all of your own skincare, because you probably won’t find the same brands there.
Amazon Delivery Available At Destination
For us Americans, we might not understand a world in which Amazon packages don’t just show up on our doorstep within a few hours of placing the order. But the truth is, there are plenty of places where Amazon don’t deliver, or the selection of what’s available to purchase is a lot different. This is important for those moments where you think, “if I run out I’ll just order more.” It might be better to just go with a brand new bottle, instead of one half full, ya know?
Now that you’ve checked off all 6 items before you started packing, you’re ready to actually start the packing process. This is going to be fun!
Oh, and for suitcases, you can’t go wrong with this roller set. We’ve been using it for years, and it’s held up great, even with a million and one flights and hard travel. I love a hard top for protection purposes.
If you don’t have packing cubes, then don’t even start packing yet. First, order those. I swear by these things, and have been using them for over a decade thanks to my mom’s suggestion. Not only can you fit way more into small spaces, but it also keeps things pressed and neat. They’re also great for keeping everything organized, which is the Taurus in me loves, of course.
Versatile clothing is the most important component to remember when you’re packing. Investing in versatile pieces will help you pack lighter, no doubt about it. What I mean by versatile clothing is that you have pieces that can be worn for different occasions. Whether that’s a top that can be dressed up or down depending on accessories, or it’s shorts that are cozy lounge shorts and good for hiking. Choose pieces that can be used for more than one purpose.
I find this easiest with interchanging pajamas and my yoga gear. This is also helpful if you’re going somewhere tropical, because you can use a bikini top for a sport bra (this might be more applicable to the smaller chested people out there, like me).
Think of essential clothing like classics. Solid colors that can totally change their appearance based on the way you accessorize, or the way you style your hair or makeup. Yes, it’s fun to have a few pieces that are louder or patterned, but otherwise I prefer classic looks that can be worn multiple ways.
I’ve never been to a place where layers aren’t vital. And I’ve been to most continents in the world. Packing layers goes hand-in-hand with versatile and essential clothing. If you have a tank top that’s cute for everyday life that can also be worn for yoga, then you can also use a loose long sleeve over it.
I lived in the tropics for many years. From Bali to the Philippines to Florida- and yes, they’re all pretty freaking hot. But there are still days, even in the hottest places, that I wished I had cozy wear, and I didn’t. Plus, let’s not forget the flight over to that warm tropical place is always freezing, right? Wear your warmest clothes on the plane, so that even if you don’t use them on your trip, at least your travel is comfortable.
Okay, shoes are my weak point. Sometimes it’s so hard for me to narrow it down, but also they take up so much space- I can’t bring myself to pack more than just the essentials. I’d suggest wearing your heaviest pair on the flight, preferably closed toe (like a boot or sneaker). I’m loving these boots for my Africa trip, and I always love white sneakers for all looks.
I’m not a heel girlie anymore unless I’m going to a wedding or something, so I can’t really speak to that. If you’re going on an adventure kind of travel, I doubt you’ll need heels. Instead, opt for cute but functional sandals. Rubber birks are some of favorite, but I also love me a Gucci slide.
Travel tends to mess up our gut. Especially if we’re going to a new timezone and our digestion gets thrown off, or if we’re trying new cuisines that our stomach isn’t quite used to. Don’t even get me started on food poisoning. Whether you go too much or too little when you travel, make sure to pack digestive enzymes and Armra for the ultimate gut support on the road. And in life, really.
Converters and Adapters
Not all countries have the same outlets. I repeat, not all countries have the same outlets! I’ve seen this happen one too many times while hosting retreats all around the world, where students don’t know that the outlets aren’t the same, and then can’t charge anything. A quick Google search will tell you. And a universal adapter is always a good purchase for international travels no matter what, because- let’s not forget- you might have a layover in a country with different plugs…again.
Skincare & Toiletries
Don’t skimp on your skincare while you’re gone, k? Sure, you can get all that sun damage lasered off when you’re home, but if you’re dropping hundreds of dollars on lasers without practicing daily skincare, then you’re wasting your money. I promise. Make sure to have everything in travel size containers so nothing gets taken away from you at security. I like to carry my toiletries on even when I check a bag, because I usually don’t have access to those same products when I’m abroad.
The Best Packing Strategy
We’re ready to get you packed! Below are my top 4 packing strategies to ensure you hit that sweet spot of packing light, while still having enough to be comfortable.
Wear Heaviest Clothing and Shoes
Wear your heaviest and warmest clothing and shoes on the plane. Even if you’re going to warm place, the airport and plane are always freezing. Don’t chance it. Trust me on this one, okay? This will also help you save space in your bag for those bigger, bulkier items.
Plan Outfits Beforehand
Sometimes I want to just pick out the things I like the most, and hope for the best. And guess what? Sometimes it works! But oftentimes this means I end up with multiple items that I never wear, because the cut of the shirt doesn’t work with the pant, or the shoe doesn’t work with the pant. Moral of the story? Plan your outfits beforehand!
Before this last trip we took to Africa, I actually laid everything out so I was super crystal clear on what was going with what. This helps to reduce the urge to overpack, and also ensures that everything in your bag will work with something else no matter what.
Accessories Change Clothing
One of the things I love about accessories- especially jewelry- is that they don’t take up a lot of space, but they can still totally change the look of an outfit. While shoes can be bulky to switch up, things like small bags, jewelry, scarves, or belts are a great way to completely change the look of an outfit. That black shirt you wore to lunch can also be dressed up to go out if you have the right little touches. It’s all about versatile, essential clothing, baby.
Most Flattering and Comfortable
Rather than packing a million different shirts with a “just in case” kind of attitude, pack the items that you know make you look and feel your best. For me, I prioritize comfort…sometimes more so than looks. That means if I know I’m not super comfy in a skintight outfit, even if I know it makes me look good, then I’m not going to pack it! Because chances are I’ll just gravitate towards the items that make me feel good, instead- and the other pieces will just become dead weight.
There you have it, my friends. You’re all ready for your next trip, and I couldn’t be more excited for you!