If you’re anything like me, packing for a trip is the low point of any vacation. It’s stressful, time consuming and literally eats hours out of my day. But, alas, it cannot be avoided. Thankfully, the process has become a bit easier over the years as I’ve really tried to streamline the process. I’ve traveled to more than 50 countries, and below I’m sharing my packing wisdom with you guys. It’s a roundup of the best packing tips and favorite travel products, as well as the most comprehensive packing checklist to help prepare you for your next adventure. This post contains affiliate links.
I invested in this Paravel Aviator Carry-On a couple of years ago, and I’ve been pretty pleased with it. I bought it because it was cute, so I’m relieved it’s actually been good quality too.
A packing checklist is key. If there is one tip you walk away with, it’s this one. No matter how small the item, it’s a bummer to arrive at a destination and realize you forgot something. Maybe it’s a camera battery or a curling iron. Both are minor, but it’s annoying not to have something that could have been avoided with a simple packing list.
Create your perfect packing checklist by writing down every item that goes into your bags on your next big trip. And from there, you can add to it with future trips. It’s inevitable that you’ll forget to pack certain items as your list evolves. To start you off, I’m sharing my packing checklist that I’ve fine tuned over the years. The PDF version is here, or can be downloaded by clicking the image below.
This is my travel packing checklist that has evolved over 50 trips.
A carryon roller is a no-brainer on short weekend trips, but it’s also a must on longer travels, even when you’re checking a bag. Why? When you check a bag, there’s always a chance of baggage loss or delay by the airline. And it’s no fun to land somewhere without your clothes, shoes, undergarments and toiletries. It’s happened to me twice in Milwaukee and Argentina.
I always pack outfits and a pair of sandals for the first two days of a trip in my carry-on, along with my toiletries bag, a pair of joggers and pajamas. That way I have a few essentials, in case my large luggage of clothes doesn’t arrive. And if you’re trying to keep things simple and avoid a carry-on, you can always try to stuff those extra clothes inside the backpack or shoulder bag that stays with you on the plane.
This hat clip is a game-changer when traveling. I just attach it to a carryon, purse or backpack, and my hat hangs from the clip’s powerful magnet.
I realize it’s hard to avoid plastic entirely when packing, but there are several ways to minimize the use of disposable plastic. These options require minimal investment, and are cost saving long term.
These cute toiletry bags are a quick and easy replacement for the Ziplocs required at TSA security.
An expandable luggage is important if you think you might shop on a trip. But more important is how use you use that expandable zipper. When you pack for your trip, fill the luggage at its standard size – do not expand! This will limit what you bring on a trip, and ensure you have an additional 15% of empty luggage space to fill with souvenirs and shopping goods once you are at your destination. Also, this Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner might not be the sexiest luggage, but it measures in at 19x12x28, and it expands. It holds A LOT on trips where you need that extra space.
This Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner is one of the largest luggages on the market thanks to its expansion zipper. And because the price point is so reasonable, I don’t feel bad for dings and scratches when traveling.
I never board a flight without my plane pouch. It’s a cute small bag that I tuck into the seat pocket in front of me in Economy or in one of the storage cubbies in Business Class. Inside my plane pouch are all the essentials I need accessible during a flight – anti-bacterial wipes, chapstick, dramamine, one Emergen-C or Liquid IV packet, ear phones, ear plugs, mini face cream, hand sanitizer, gum, Ibuprofen, an in-flight phone holder, Kleenex, lotion, a pen, plane socks, an essential oil roller and a sleep mask.
One of my new favorite items to bring on a trip is this Touchland Power Mist hand sanitizer spray. I never knew hand sanitizer could feel hydrating and smell so delicious.
When trying to maximize luggage capacity, make use of space that would normally go unoccupied. For example, if there is a purse or handbag in your luggage, fill it up socks or a couple tank tops. If you pack a boat hat, fill the crown with a couple swimsuits (this also prevents hats from getting smashed!).
I fill the crown of my hats to utilize empty luggage space, and it also helps the hat keep its form inside my bag.
It’s pretty easy to get comfortable in business class, but comfort in Economy on a long haul flight can be tricky to master. I always opt for a window seat to make it a bit easier to sleep, and I’ll wear something very comfortable – usually a knit set or joggers and a sweatshirt. But most important to in-flight comfort are the items below. I split these essentials between my shoulder bag (or backpack) and my carry-on roller, so that I can have them all accessible at my seat on the plane.
I always pack my own blanket. I feel better knowing it’s mine, and it’s clean.
EAR PHONES + EAR PLUGS
These block out the sound if it’s noisy on the plane. Plus I listen to podcasts, audio books and music while in flight.
Essential oils are so calming on a flight, and I find the scent of this particular essential oil roller soothing and comforting. It’s also a lifesaver if you get seated next to someone smelly.
My foam pillow is usually more comfortable than the cotton complimentary pillows on Economy flights.
This in-flight phone holder makes it easy to watch shows and movies hands-free on my phone.
Select a comfortable sleep mask to block out all the light (I always opt for one that is filled with lavender).
I dress in knits and joggers for flights to maximize comfort in the air. OUTFIT DETAILS: Slippers linked here.
If I don’t use packing cubes, the sanity of my luggage usually goes out the window by day two of a trip. These cubes are essential for keeping my bags orderly – a cube for sweaters, a cube for swimsuits, a cube for rompers, etc. Also, I use shoe bags to keep shoes organized in my luggage and prevent them from touching anything in my bag!
These packing cubes keep my bag in order on longer trips.
A foldable duffle bag has been clutch for me on many trips in recent years. The compact size consumes very little luggage space, and serves essential in a few crisis scenarios at the airport.
First scenario: you and your best friend arrive to Venice on a long haul flight with a carryons and checked bags. Four days later, you have a flight booked to Taormina, and realize that inner-Europe flights charge baggage excess fees, and there is a weight limit to checked bags and carryons. Here’s where the duffel comes in handy. Use the bag to rearrange the luggage weights so that you and your bestie are buying the smallest amount of excess luggage.
The duffel is also handy if you find yourself shopping a lot on a trip. It can be used as another checked bag on the flight home. Just fill it up with dirty laundry and use your luggage to store all the souvenirs, clothes, wine and art pieces you bought on your trip.
This foldable duffle bag is clutch, and so tiny to pack. It takes up virtually no space, but expands to a massive size if I find I need to check a second bag on the way home.