Travel packing does not have to be a chore. All it takes is a little pre-planning and pre-packing to be a pro. I travel with an ‘airplane bag’, a day bag and a suitcase. The best advise you will ever receive is to pack your must haves and leave behind your might needs. There are many, many packing articles and videos. Start with my Pinterest Travel Packing Tips Board if you want more information.

My Personal Item

I am in love with my airplane bag the first and last 14 hours of a trip. The rest of the time it is a hassle. What’s in it? My essentials include: pillow, blanket, eye mask, earplugs, ear phones, Dramamine, lip balm, Kleenex packet, mints, gum, moisturizer, wet wipes or hand sanitizer, toothbrush, mouthwash, small brush, Ziploc baggies, 2 binder clips, door stop alarm, travel locks, 3 pair of clean underwear and socks. I never unpack these items.

Before I leave I add snacks, vitamins, prescriptions, iPad, camera and all my electronics/chargers. Electronics are fragile and expensive. Carry them on with you. If you chose to use a carry on or backpack as your personal item tuck a tote in a side pocket and transfer items you will want while in transit before you stow the bag in the over head compartment.

It is not the end of the world if my luggage is lost and am stuck in my airplane clothes as long as I have socks, underwear and my electronics. One regular strength Dramamine and a glass of wine helps me sleep during overnight flights without being drowsy on arrival. I have music, games and books on my iPad if I want them. I’m as happy as I can be in a 31 x 16 inch space with my airplane bag.

My Day Bag

Equally important is a good day bag. I have a couple. Safety is the most important feature. Look for products with slashguards in the mesh and strap, locking systems and RFID protection. Pacsafe and Travelon are popular brands. I have a small cross body bag that will hold a point and shoot camera and is appropriate for a night out. I also have a larger cross body bag with side pockets for a water bottle and it is large enough to hold a DSLR camera. When my photography skills evolve and I start needing multiple lenses I will upgrade to this bag.

My essentials are: lip balm, breath spray, sanitizer, Kleenex packet, motion sickness bands, safety whistle, small flashlight, spork and umbrella. These are never unpacked. I add maps, wallet, camera and phone before I leave.

Hanging Toiletry Bag with Velcro

I love my toiletry bag.  If I’m in a small space I can hang it. If a have an actual counter I can pull the velcro and set it on the counter. Best of both worlds. I have it packed and refill it as soon as i get home so it is ready for the next trip. My basics are: shampoo, conditioner, body wash in silicone containers that suction to the shower wall, lotion, small perfume, razor, cotton swabs, deodorant, toothbrush, tooth paste, floss, mouthwash, hairbrush, hair ties, nail file, needle and thread, couple of band aides, pain reliever, tide stain stick. FYI: a travel size toothpaste is good for 42 uses  and a 3 oz bottle of shampoo will last 18 shampoos. I have a separate small bag for sunscreen, aloe vera and a hair pick to take to the pool or beach.

My Luggage

People talk about how much they love their luggage; I have not fallen in love with a suitcase. I have large luggage. In the past I brought everything I could possibly fit and need with me. I didn’t want to spend precious time in Paris looking for a store to buy a needle and thread. Then I had to drag my luggage up the stairs to an attic room in Iceland. And tripped on it trying to carry it down the stairs while running for the tube, so grateful for the person who grabbed me. I still have large luggage but I now pack it light. I always have room for my souvenir hoodies.

Travel Packing Tips to Get You Started

Do not leave packing to last minute!

Use a packing list.

Pack only what you will need based on the weather, number of days and how long items will last you before you must do laundry.

Pack as little as possible. Leave behind all the ‘just in case’ items.

Roll your clothes and use packing cubes. If it doesn’t fit in your packing cube, you don’t need it.

Chose outfits around a color palette to allow for easy mix and match options.

Pack the heaviest items in the bottom of the luggage. This is usually shoes or jeans.

Bring only comfortable shoes and cover them with a shower cap. Consider a 3 pair rule.

Use a zippered pillow case to store dirty clothes.

If you must bring jewelry do not bring expensive, flashy or favorite pieces. No need to wear a ‘rob me’ sign.

Purchase a roll up jewelry organizer. Keep necklaces detangled by threading one end through a straw and clasping.  Transport ear rings in a pill container.

Re-purpose old chap-stick containers for pills, pill bottles for Q-Tips and tic tac bottles for things like bobby pins.

Pre-pack basic make-up. You do not need your entire beauty regime. Contact lens cases are good for transporting liquids like foundation.

Place a cotton ball in your blush and compact to protect from shattering.

Store your curling iron in an oven mitt.

Pack a safety door stop, safety whistle and a small flashlight.

Hide a little bit of money in your suitcase and hope you won’t need it.

NyQuil. (A trip to the ‘farmacia’ in Italy pointing to my throat, coughing, sniffing and shivering resulted in very expensive Italian Aspirin that did not help. A couple years later I got sick in England. Things close very early in England. I pack NyQuil; the largest one I can find).

Take a picture of your checked bag. Show the picture to the airline if it is lost and they can fill out the lost baggage form in their language.

If you are traveling with someone consider swapping out 2 outfits in each others luggage. You will have 2 days clothes if your bag is lost.

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Travel Packing 101: How to Pack for EVERYWHERE

What is your best travel packing tip?