How to pack light & my special tips on what to pack and why

**Topics covered: Basic packing essentials, International travel, Hostel travel, travel with children essentials, what to bring on the plane if it will be a long flight**

Red Eye flights & other things useful at airport for those layovers or waiting times:

-“Sleep sack”: if you are taking a red eye, or international flight I always bring what I call my sleep sack. A small stuff sack that I fill with: ear plugs, eye shield, Benadryl (or Melatonin), contact/glasses, wet wipes/baby wipes, Kleenex. I put this in my backpack, because its usually the first thing that I want when I get on the plane, or arrive at the hotel. Makes your life so much easier when you are jet lagged, irritable, and just want to lay down more than anything else in the world.

Empty water bottle – I usually take my camel back water bottle (get from any cycling store or Amazon) make sure to get one that has a close valve and wont leak in if turned sideways. This is a way you can save money, by filling up the water bottle once you get into the airport, and don’t have to just have the 1/2 cup of water they offer on the plane.

-Wet wipes: this is to wipe down the area before you eat anything, trust me this is essential to every travel bag. I found blood on my tray table once (I work in the medical field and know what blood looks like), which is really not sanitary (was on a good airline too) – every since then I wipe the tray table, lights, and arms down with cleaning cloths before I use them.

– Personal preference: I bring my own baby blanket and earphones/music to help me have some white noise. I also bring some suckers for those screaming kids to suck on & try to help the mom’s of this world out if I can, cramped spaces and small children don’t really get along — and people tend to not be so nice when the kids start screaming bloody murder when they have to sit for long stretches. So help your fellow human beings out and keep some dum-dum suckers on hand for emergencies.

The Basics:

-take # of days you will be on trip, divide by 2, then choose outfits that can be interchangeable or just add a scarf/hat/necklace to change your look this will save you loads of room. PACK ONLY WHAT YOU KNOW YOU USE ON A DAILY BASIS, AND CANNOT REPLACE AT YOUR DESINATION IF NEEDED.

7 day adventure to a summer area/swimming I would bring:

3 picture worthy shirts

1 lazy jane Tshirt

1 short summer dress (can also use as swimsuit coverup or a night out)

a thin sweater (fleece or windbreaker work best)

a swimming suit

a scarf

a hat & a bandana

make sure everything was interchangeable with my

1 leggings/jeggings

1 shorts/capri’s

pair or sandals (typically flat ones I can smash together)

hiking or walking shoes (wear these onto the plane with laces partially undone but tied which makes them slip on/slip off’s)

-the undergarments, socks and other unmentionable essentials – don’t divide this by 2 please, lol

-toiletries – only take what is absolutely necessary for where you are going

(ie: toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, contact/glasses, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, dry shampoo-for girls, makeup, aftershave, small perfume sample if desired, feminine hygiene supplies, brush, conditioner spray-on/small bottle of oil for hair, sunblock, aloe, bug spray (DEET is good for mosquitos, but if adversed to using DEET they have mosquito repellant bracelets at REI that work well  etc….)

– For those prone to chaffing, I would take body glide, especially if it will be a hot humid area, or somewhere you will be getting in the water then walking a long way. Men, this will save the family jewels the discomfort, and women this will help those of us with kissing thighs. Interestingly enough, triathletes and marathon runners use this stuff all the time, even on their arms to help – its like body butter, without the oil and mess.

-Photo ID (make sure it is current)

-electronics – as needed, I usually save space by just taking my phone, it makes the suitcase lighter

computer/phone/cameras & make sure to bring the respective chargers for each. I try avoiding bringing a computer at all costs, it costs headache and time at the security check in, more chance of breaking it with moving around all the time. If you can, switch it out for an Ipad, or even mini Ipad – the lighter the better, and make sure not to pack it deep within your suitcase because they will make you take it out. Also make sure to put your electronic cords (if there are a lot) into an easy to remove area as well. I have been stopped on International flights for this.

— don’t bring a towel or beach bag with you, it just takes up space and you can just get a plastic bag from a store there, and steal a towel from the hotel so you don’t have to worry about getting sand in your suitcase when you repack at the end of trip. Don’t forget sunglasses and sunblock.

For winter/Fall 7 day adventure:

3 picture worthy long sleeve shirts with scarf to match all 3

1 fleece sweater without hood (to save space)

wind/rain breaker with hood

2 packs of hand warmers

warm hat

small pair of 99 cent gloves from Walmart

wear my hiking shoes/boots on plane

fleece lined leggings

long pants(just a note, jeans are very heavy, pick pants that are not jeans but are warm for you)

warm pair of socks to sleep in

socks for the daytime

and believe it or not, I keep a garbage bag in my backpack so that if a downpour starts it actually keeps me quite warm & is less bulky than a poncho, I just cut a hole in the bottom of it for arms and my head, and then you can have each person/kid keep one in the pocket as well so you aren’t left carrying everyone’s wet ponchos. Then toss them out at the end of the trip, or use them for your dirty clothes by tying the holes on the bottom off and putting the dirty clothes in it.

-the undergarments, socks and other unmentionable essentials – don’t divide this by 2 please, lol

-toiletries: only bring what you cannot live without

(ie: toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, contact/glasses, nail clipper/filer, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, dry shampoo-for girls, makeup, aftershave, small perfume sample if desired, feminine hygiene supplies, brush, conditioner spray-on/small bottle of oil for hair, sunblock, aloe, bug spray (DEET is good for mosquitos, but if adversed to using DEET they have mosquito repellant bracelets at REI that work well  etc….) only take what is necessary for the weather in the area that you will be visiting.

– For those prone to chaffing, I would take body glide, especially if it will be a hot humid area, or somewhere you will be getting in the water then walking a long way. Men, this will save the family jewels the discomfort, and women this will help those of us with kissing thighs. Interestingly enough, triathletes and marathon runners use this stuff all the time, even on their arms to help – its like body butter, without the oil and mess.

-Photo ID (make sure it is current)

-electronics – save space by just bringing your phone

computer/phone/cameras & make sure to bring the respective chargers for each. I try avoiding bringing a computer at all costs, it costs headache and time at the security check in, more chance of breaking it with moving around all the time. If you can, switch it out for an Ipad, or even mini Ipad – the lighter the better, and make sure not to pack it deep within your suitcase because they will make you take it out. Also make sure to put your electronic cords (if there are a lot) into an easy to remove area as well. I have been stopped on International flights for this.

-Wear your heaviest shoes onto the plane, and only put sandals and one other pair in your suitcase if it is a longer trip, or 2 pairs max if its a shorter trip (this if mostly for the ladies- casual and dress up shoes is it girls, trust me, it makes things too heavy & and I have had to trash some shoes before because my suitcase was overweight)

-Fleece sweater and rain jacket/wind breaker combo – this allows you to dress in layers and will keep you warm. Bring the Fleece sweater onto the plane with you to save you room & planes are usually cold, and get a rain jacket that rolls up nice and small for the suitcase.

International flights/adventures:

-Lifestraw bottle: each country you visit is going to have different water filtering systems that your body won’t be use to. So make sure to drink either bottled water (especially if 3rd world), or I like to carry my Lifestraw water bottle, where I can filter the water no matter where I am. It is also great if you get lost or the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country because you can filter river water with it too and be perfectly fine

-Passport: make sure to make 3 copies of this and your Drivers License and credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted friend, one in your purse/wallet, and one in your suitcase. Then once I reach my destination, I put my real passport in the safe, or a hidden spot within my suitcase, and put the suitcase under the bed or in a hotel safe (make sure they don’t charge you to use the safe). I only take my Drivers license and a copy of the passport with me when walking around international cities. This way if I get pick-pocketed, I still have a way to get home.

-Check the CDC: if you are going to a very rural obscure place, or a very tropical place. Make sure you check the Center for Disease Control Travel recommendations website to make sure you have the vaccinations or medications needed to prevent severe illnesses that may be in the area. Like Malaria, yellow fever etc….. There are certain precautions that will need to be followed, and a copy of the most recent vaccinations and where and when you got them. If you do not have this, they will not let you back into the US.

– Check to see if you need a Visa to visit a certain country, and if other than Europe, you may need to see if there is a travel warning to that country. Just don’t let it scare you away from visiting, if you are really worried, you can call the countries US consulate office to make sure it is safe for tourists.

-Make sure you have a proper charging plug that relates to that country, and I always bring an extension for it (like the 3 plug extension) that way you can charge your phone, camera, ipad/recorder all at one time instead of carrying a few of the appropriate wall plugs. This saves weight and space, and lots of fights about who gets to plug what in next.

-TIP for girls: if you plan to bring hair styling tools, get ones that are ok for international use and that fold up nicely or are the mini version. When you are converting electrical voltage from one particular country to our voltage, people have reported burning up their hair or tools because the voltage is so much more, and sometimes they don’t work at all because there isn’t enough. So if you get a converter, make sure it is the appropriate voltage requirement for your hair styling tool.

-Medications: I usually bring allergy medication, stool softner (like Colace/senna), lomotil (for diarrhea) and a small bottle of pepto bismol & tums. If you have motion sickness issues, then maybe ask your doctor for Zofran (antinausea pill- if you don’t have heart arrhythmia issues) or motion sickness patch that goes behind your ear (must place this 24 hours BEFORE your trip/cruise)

-headlamp or flashlight – this is extremely useful if you have to get up in the middle of the night and are sharing the room with several other people. You can also use your phone if you have a flashlight on it.

-download a phrase book for the country you are going to on your ipad, and make sure you put in there “Can you point to…..” this way you don’t have to understand what they are saying, gestures do wonders, and I ended up getting really good at charades.

-I always keep a protein bar or energy bar on hand, just in case I am not in a place where I can get food. I find that the first few days of traveling overseas I end up STARVING in the middle of the night & everything is closed. This saves me from going out alone on the streets in the strange city at night (especially if you are traveling alone this is a safety tip)

-a pack of gum and a pack of cigarettes: I don’t use either one of these myself, but they come in handy when you are trying to get somewhere, or need a favor from a local — they will always accept one of the two. Just to not get annoyed with the tourists always asking questions. This way you can thank them without feeling like you have to give them cash, buy them a drink, or give them your contact information.

-For cruises:

See Summer destination packing list, then….

I typically bring the same things as listed above, but am a little more liberal in what I bring,:

like a fancy dress with an extra pair of shoes for the formal nights

a larger extension cord to share the one plug that is typically available with others in your cabin

and flip flops (to walk around the ship, because if its not brand new you bet someone prob threw up on the floor somewhere)

extra swimming suit/aloe/tanning lotion/sunscreen

my own snorkeling gear along with water proof camera

I also bring a pad and paper so I can keep track of events on board, where we have been and things I liked so I can document my trip when I get home

I also bring my mini ipad or kindle with books I like already loaded – it saves space and weight.

It is better to be a little more liberal on cruise ships because they seem to be what I call ‘floating piggy banks’ — aka charge you for everything. Plus you don’t have to haul your luggage around as much if you were backpacking or going through multiple airports. If you are flying overseas, just share a taxi with your shipmates to the hotel and tip the taxi driver a little to take care of the luggage.

Some cruise ships allow you to bring your own soda pop or alcohol, you just have to call them and see what their rules are. This is a great way to save money, as soda can get quite expensive. If you are flying to a destination then going to get on the ship, find a nearby grocery store or gas station and pick up your good there before you get onto the ship.

I also bring an empty open mouth easy to fill from another cup pouring water in type of water bottle. Some ships won’t allow you to directly fill your water bottle up. So I just fill their glasses of water up and put a bunch of ice to last me the day, and it saves me money and time, and intestinal issues if I was to fill my water up at the particular destination.

Tips of what to pack when traveling with children:

Packing with children can be tricky, especially when you’re packing for infants and toddlers. It’s hard not to get carried away, but try to follow a lot of the same rules mentioned above. In addition, here are the essentials to pack for young children:

  • Diapers. Lots of diapers. You never know when you’re going to need more diapers, so I always err on the side of caution with this one. There’s nothing worse than being stranded without a diaper!
  • Wipes
  • Bottles and formula. I like to pack foothills in a zip lock baggy and include the scoop! This way it takes up much less space in your bag.
  • Snacks (think mess-free, such as fruit pouches and puffs)
  • Two or three favorite (small) toys. I like to bring a stuffed animal, a hot wheels car, and a book.
  • iPad or portable DVD player. You could also use your phone but I prefer to have something separate so that my phone stays charged. iPads are great because you can play games as well as watch movies. Hopefully they’ll keep your child occupied for a while.
  • Change of clothes. It’s a good idea to always carry an extra change of clothes with you. Kids seem to have impeccable timing when it comes to spills, blowouts, and spit up. #momlife
  • Kid carrier. A wrap, stroller, or both.
  • Car seat. Don’t forget this one unless you have already made SURE your rental car company can provide one.

 

 

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3 comments

  1. Good idea to put all the plane sleeping stuff in a sack! I’m always fishing around for my stuff and this would definitely help with in flight organization. Also I agree with the stuff to bring, but the one thing I’d add is an inflatable neck pillow, they save the space of a normal pillow but are a lifesaver on long haul flights. I wouldn’t have made the 17 hour flight from California to Singapore without it.

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  2. I definitely can’t sleep without a neck pillow! I’m going to get an inflatable one for my trip to Prague because I will be backpacking through east Europe and spending a lot of time on trains. Love your blog by the way!

    Like

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