• Kay Davis

How to Pack For Your Trip Like a Pro

Updated: Jun 19

The most stressful part of travel, in my opinion, is packing. From what “fits in” with the place where you are going to what fits into your suitcase or bag, packing can and often causes me the most stress ahead of a trip.

Packing is the most stressful part of traveling, in my opinion
Packing is the most stressful part of traveling, in my opinion

Years ago, I learned the art of a “go bag”. It’s basically a pre-packed bag for last-minute work travel that fits whatever season we are in. Many of my colleagues had one ready to go. I wasn’t that prepared, but I did have my “go essentials” and that served me well jumping between last-minute work trips and planned vacations.


My “go essentials bag” consists of my contact lens solution and a case, a toothbrush, and small travel toothpaste, nail polish remover wipes, a small set of shampoo and conditioner, a razor, a small hairbrush, and a travel bottle of Tums. It’s compact enough for me to throw into any carry-on or checked bag, which is great for me and my travel needs.


I have a few other staples and ways to pack that have benefitted me from short weekend trips to longer trips that often don’t have a return ticket. Hopefully, this helps alleviate any stress you have before you pack for your next adventure.

Battery and Chargers

No matter what kind of travel you do, chargers for your devices and a fully charged battery in your carry-on are an absolute must. I am a big proponent of “charging up” whenever I get the opportunity to use a wall plug.


My bag always has a spare charger for my cell phone and tablet as well as at least one extra USB wall plug. For international travel, I bring two wall converters, both in my carry-on bag.

Underwear

I have a rule that no matter how long I travel, I bring at least double that on underwear. This is especially true when I am staying in a hotel without laundry or if I’m not sure of the laundry situation. That way, I’m always prepared and will always have clean undies!

Clothes

This is the hardest, in my opinion. We all need and want to look good on our travels, but you can pack the right clothing for a trip without having to go overboard. Keep it simple, is my best advice. For instance, jeans and khakis can typically get 2 or 3 wears, provided they aren’t stained. Wear the same outfit for your flights, especially if you are doing long flights.

Packing light and still dressing to look good can be especially difficult
Packing light and still dressing to look good can be especially difficult

Make sure your clothes fall into the same color patterns so that you don’t need different shoes for different outfits. When it’s colder, I have one jacket or coat and also bring a lightweight jacket or cardigan for layering. This lightweight jacket or cardigan is what I use on the plane to cover up or as a “pillow”.


I always pack at least one white and one black T-shirt along with a couple of other tops that could go from day to night. I bring one “nicer” outfit for dinners out, and sometimes it’s just a nicer pair of jeans with a cute top.


I also always bring at least two workout outfits for the week and bring a small bottle of laundry detergent so I can wash those in the sink if needed.


Shoes

Let’s face it, we almost always walk more wherever we travel to than what we are used to at home. Unless I’m going specifically for a dress-up event, I never bring my nicest shoes with me on a trip. I always bring comfortable shoes, including at least one pair that’s good for nicer dinners or events.


I love my shoes, like a lot of females I know, but I don’t need to bring my entire collection on a trip. So I pare it down and bring shoes that go with more than one outfit and also are easy to walk with.


For me, a pair of cowboy boots is a travel staple 3 out of the 4 seasons. They go in jeans, pants, and skirts. My gym sneakers work for working out and walking around my destination.


I always have a pair of flip-flops in my carry-on bag. These are helpful for any situation, especially when showers are a tad sketchy. Finally, I bring a nicer pair of shoes that are always pretty comfy, such as fashion sneakers.


For men, I always recommend bringing a pair of nice sneakers as well as a pair of gym sneakers. This will allow you to be comfortable and able to get into pretty much any place you need, including those with dress codes.


Weather-Appropriate Gear

As much as possible, I try to pack for the weather where I’m going. I do check several weather sites and especially the local news regardless of if it’s in America or another country. I always carry a lightweight rain jacket with me on almost every trip.


Cash

Cash is still king. I always have plenty of cash with me, and never ever keep it all in one location. I split it up between my carry-on bags as well as compartments within those bags. I do my exchanges for international travel in the US, even though the rates may not always be the best. This gives me less time in an airport in a new country and more time exploring!


Finally, I am a huge fan of packing cubes. I use those to separate my clothes on the way to a destination and also to separate clean and dirty laundry for the trip home. They stack great in my suitcase and are so easy to get out of when I get to wherever I’m going.

For multi-leg trips, I use a different cube for each destination. Then I don’t have to fully unpack my suitcase and spend more time exploring and less time unpacking and packing.

I use different "cubes" for multi-leg trips
I use different "cubes" for multi-leg trips

These are just a few things that have served me well over the years. Share your best tips in the comments below!

 

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