There are a very small number of things that I dislike about travel and packing is one of them (the other being the getting to and from the airport bit). As someone who consistently over packs for every journey and holiday, it is an internal struggle that I go through every time. But how do you avoid over packing? How do you get rid of the “but I might need it at some point” mentality?
Recently we were able to squeeze two weeks of clothing (for both of us) into one small suitcase that was light and easy (for hubby) to transport. I feel that I have FINALLY mastered the art of packing… for a warm climate, anyway!
Some destinations can be easy to pack for if you know what you will be doing and how long you will be going for. Other destinations can be unpredictable tedious to pack for.
There are a few tricks that I have discovered that help me when I am packing. Let me share them with you…
1. Find items that can be used several times for different situations
For example, a simple sarong or shawl can be a beach/poolside item of clothing. It can also be used to respectfully cover up when visiting shrines, temples and other sacred places. If you are desperate, the sarong or shawl can be used as a towel to dry off, or even be rolled up as a pillow to sleep on.
2. Don’t take too many pairs of shoes
Two pairs of shoes and perhaps your thongs/flip flops/jandals is plenty for any trip. And one of those pairs of shoes you can wear while in transit. Shoes take up lots of space that can be used for other more essential items. All shoes should be durable, worn in (not new), be comfortable to walk in for a number of hours and be a classic style and colour to match with several outfits.
For females, simple black ballet flats can be worn with anything for a casual every day look or a nice dinner/night out. They are easy and small to pack and are a better alternative to heels in unknown lands.
3. Style and colour
You can reduce the number of clothing items you take by selecting clothing items that work well together, are a good fit and are classic styles that can be mixed and matched several times. Select fabrics that are quick dry and durable. Light fabric, synthetics, polyester, and silk are quick dry and durable. Rather than selecting big bold colours that will clash when mixed together, try selecting solids and patterns with the same ‘colour story’. Ensure you consider various settings on your travels and be respectful of the cultures you are visiting.
4. Prepare for different climates
Keep an eye on weather forecasts and average climates for you destination(s) before you go. You do not want to be caught out carrying your winter coat or a bulky umbrella unnecessarily around a country that is 30 degrees celicius and rains only twice a year.
My ideal packing list for 10 days or more
- A small suitcase, or carry-on bag (no more than 40L)
- A small handbag
- My tablet/electronic device with eBooks, Google maps, travel aps, music, movies and games to pass the time.
- Phone and tablet chargers, with an adapter(s) if necessary.
- 3 – 6 tops – one or two colours and easily matching patterns (one long-sleeve plain colour top for a cool night, temple visit or layering purposes)
- 3 – 4 bottoms – shorts, demium jeans, skirt and long pants in solid colours and durable, easy dry fabrics. Jeans can be worn on transit to increase avialable space in your pack.
- 1 or 2 dresses – a nice patterned or solid colour dress can be worn in a casual or formal setting
- 1 light cardigan, fleece or hoodie (black or nuetral colour)
- 1 water resistant jacket/ winter coat or light casual jacket – depending on the climate and weather conditions
- 2 bras – comfortable for travel, supporting for activities or travel and that matches all your tops. Removable straps and nuetral colours are a ideal for matching to different clothing.
- 5-7 pairs of underwear – travel underwear is ideal, alternatively any quick drying fabric for possible hand washing is recommended. Avoid 100% cotton.
- 1 pair of opaque stockings – black or neutral colour to dress up an outfit or be layered under pants for warmth
- 1 bathing suit – a reversable bathing suit will give you more options
- 1 belt – can be worn with pants, skirt or dress for a different look or practicle uses.
- 1 scarf
- 1 shawl/plain sarong
- 1 or 2 pairs of shoes – shoes comfortable for walking (boots in cold weather or sneakers/sandshoes/hiking shoes), ballet flats or similar, and (only if required) flip flops or sandals.
- Roll-on deoderant (under 100ml)
- Sun lotion (under 100ml), hat and sunglasses – for sun protection
- Toothbrush & toothpaste (under 100ml)
- Optional Minimal make-up – mascara, eye liner, powder or liquid foundation.
- Optional Minimal jewelery – 1 pair of earings, 1 necklace and 1 braclet/watch can be mix and matched for a casual or formal look.
- Laundry clotherline and travel soap – for hand washing clothes if required
Read more about travel essentials and my list of 10 pointless items NOT to take backpacking…