Packing Tips and Lists

I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at packing, so here are my tips and past packing lists.


      • Coordinate outfits for maximum versatility. If you choose brown shoes, pack a brown belt, brown jacket, and complementary clothing colors.
      • Pack light. I can’t emphasize this enough. You won’t have to wait at baggage claim, you’ll be more agile, and you won’t look like a clueless tourist. As Rick Steves said, “You’ll never meet a traveler who, after five trips, brags: ‘Every year I pack heavier.’”
      • Look at weather forecasts and average high and low temperatures for your destinations. The most wishful thinking won’t prevent rain on your vacation. Prepare for reality.
      • Plan on doing laundry along the way. Either plan your accommodations based on laundry stops, or bring some laundry soap and wash things in the sink. Unless you’re a very smelly or sweaty person, you can wear shirts and pants a few times before needing to wash them.
      • Wear the heavy/bulky items on the plane, like jeans and tennis shoes. Shorts and sandals are easier to pack.
      • Pack in layers. For example, for a fall Europe trip I had a hoodie and a leather jack I could layer, and did in chilly Amsterdam. This was a lot more convenient than bringing a bulkier coat.
      • Don’t vacuum pack. Sure, it will be great bringing more stuff to your destination, then impossible to repack once you’re there.
      • Get bare bones. If you find you can’t live without something, you can buy it there! Shopping for essentials can be a fun experience in itself in a foreign country.

My backpack

36L Travex Backpack from Eddie Bauer. I like the sleek design, comfortable straps, and ample pockets. On two recent trips my load has been less than 15 lbs. So while I travel with a backpack, I’m not a backpacker, per se.


My Personal Item

2014-07-10 19.42.14-2A small red leather Fossil purse I’ve had for years. During the day, it fits my wallet, phone, camera, mini water bottle, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, lip balm, and sometimes even an extra shirt. The single shoulder strap is short enough to position the purse securely under my arm. Between that and the top zipper, I’ve never been pickpocketed.

My 3-week Autumn Europe Trip Clothes Packing List:

      • 1 pair of jeans
      • 1 pair khakis
      • 1 pair grey linen bermudas
      • 6 Shirts
        • ¾-sleeved white and red striped shirt
        • ¾-sleeved lightweight orange and gold shirt
        • Short-sleeved red and navy colorblock shirt
        • Short-sleeved light grey shirt with white flowers print
        • Long-sleeved burnt orange shirt
        • Turquoise tank top
      • Cap-sleeved, knee-length navy jersey dress
      • Brown leather jacket
      • Grey hoodie
      • 6 pairs of underwear
      • 5 pairs socks
      • Puma tennis shoes
      • Brown flats (for nicer occasions, though I learned the hard way these weren’t suitable for long walks) 
      • Pajamas
      • Scarf
      • Swimsuit
      • Nude bra

My 2-week Summer Europe Trip Clothes Packing List:

      • 1 pair of slim cargo pants
      • 1 pair jean bermudas
      • 1 lightweight patterned skort (with pockets! Handy for a phone or camera)
      • 7 shirts
        • Long-sleeved turquoise henley shirt
        • Sleeveless black shirt (paired with skort for my “fancy outfit”)
        • Short-sleeved white and black striped shirt
        • Short-sleeved red and white striped shirt
        • Short-sleeved soft heather gray v-neck
        • Solid red t-shirt
        • Turquoise tank top (doubled as pajama top)
      • Camel-colored faux leather jacket
      • 6 pairs underwear
      • 5 pairs socks
      • Puma tennis shoes
      • Gold sandals (for nicer occasions)
      • Flip flops
      • Pajama bottoms
      • Swimsuit
      • Nude Bra


      • Toothbrush
      • Mini toothpaste
      • Mini floss
      • Mini deodorant
      • Oxy facepads (just enough for the trip in a ziplock bag)
      • Contacts in case
      • Mini bottle of contact solution
      • EXTRA contacts (just in case)
      • Shampoo in 3 oz. container
      • Conditioner  in 3 oz. container
      • Body wash in 3 oz. container
      • Hand/body lotion in 3 oz. container
      • Dry shampoo
      • Make-up
        • Mascara
        • Blush
        • Eyebrow pencil
        • Eyeliner
        • Concealer
        • Q-tips
        • Makeup remover
      • Mini St. Ive’s face scrub
      • Tweezers
      • Nail clippers
      • Nail file
      • Razor
      • Sunscreen (3 oz. bottle)
      • SPF chapstick
      • Brush
      • Comb
      • Feminine products
      • Prescription medicine
      • Melatonin and/or No Jet Lag
      • Over-the-counter medicine (I have a mini bottle with aspirin, Tums, and allergy pills)
      • Bandaids in various sizes

Other items

      • Wallet (with debit card, credit card, insurance, ID, and some cash. Empty out everything else.)
      • Passport
      • Itinerary packet
      • Train tickets
      • Watch
      • Camera + charger
      • Phone +charger
      • Power converters
      • Earbuds
      • Earrings – one pair gold, one pair silver
      • Reusable water bottle
      • Mini water bottle for my purse
      • Sewing kit (mine’s in an empty pill bottle!)
      • Febreeze spray
      • Laundry liquid for washing clothes in the sink. (On my last trip, I brought a 3 oz. bottle of hand soap to double as laundry liquid and body wash.)
      • Journal
      • Pen
      • Pencil
      • Kindle
      • Glasses + case
      • Sunglasses
      • Plastic bags (for dirty laundry)
      • Tiny flashlight
      • Eyemask
      • Ear plugs
      • Several snacks. (Great for the trip or even for breakfast after you arrive. I like Lärabars.)

Stuff I’ve learned not to bring

      • Work out clothes. Unless you’re superhuman, you aren’t going to want to go jogging after covering miles on foot each day.
      • Large paper book. I did this once, finished it in the first few days, then had to schlep it around the rest of the trip.

More packing tips

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