How to Pack for any Trip

In August, my family and I are preparing to take a 14 day Alaskan cruise, including visiting Denali National Park.  There will be 10 in our party, ranging from children to seniors, with different levels of travel experience and interests.  We will need to be prepared for a range of temperatures and surroundings (sunny excursions, cold evening boat deck winds, poolside lounging, evening dress for the Cruise dinners, and outdoor gear for hiking Denali).

To help my family (and any budget minded traveler, really) pack appropriately and try to avoid pricey airline baggage fees, I’ve put together these quick tips and packing advice.

Packing tips

  • Check the weather for your destination.
  • Pack light. Only pack a carry on if possible. Most airlines will allow each passenger to bring one carry on and one personal item at no charge, and a fee will be charged for each piece of checked luggage.
  • Always check your airline guidelines for allowed luggage size and weights.
  • If you MUST check your luggage, put all of your valuables and a change of clothes in your carry on, in case your checked luggage is lost by the airline.
  • Use packing cubes. They will organize and compress your clothing. These are especially important if you have multiple destinations or if you are backpacking. (Large plastic zippered bags work great, too!).  Use this link to purchase them from Amazon, and I’ll get a small incentive, too.
  • Roll your clothing to prevent wrinkles.
  • Only pack enough clothing for one week, regardless of the length of your trip. Do laundry as necessary.
  • Bring versatile items that you can mix and match. (Try to stick to neutral bases or one color palette, and add color with accessories).
  • Layer. This is especially key if you will be in multiple climates.

    Carry on backpacks
    Carry on backpacks to avoid luggage fees.

Suggested Packing List:

Items to include in your carry on:

  • passport
  • any necessary visas (check here to find out if your destination requires a visa and if you need to obtain one ahead of time)
  • wallet, including credit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees
  • international debit card (Charles Schwab reimburses all ATM fees)
  • cash, in case you need to buy forgotten items
  • sunscreen
  • chapstick
  • chewing gum
  • makeup and liquids under 3 oz (travel size) in a clear, quart sized container/ziplock bag
  • nail clippers (instead of scissors)
  • safety pins (versatile fix-all)
  • eyemask/earplugs
  • smartphone (check international fees before your trip)
  • E-readers and magazines
  • chargers
  • camera and lenses, extra SD cards
  • daypack or small packable purse
  • one change of clothes (minimum)
  • packable (empty) water bottle

Additional items if you are running a marathon (or just like to stay fit on the road), included in carry on:

  • Sports watch and charger
  • running shoes
  • running clothes
  • sports bra
  • compression socks
  • cozy post-race socks
  • open-toed post-race shoes
  • race belt
  • Bodyglide
  • sunscreen
  • pain relievers
  • preferred race fuel
  • extra safety pins

    Watch as this all fits into….

Items to include in your carry on OR checked luggage:

  • 3 pairs of shoes or less (including comfortable walking shoes (athletic or neutral flat style), flip flops (for beach and showers), cute sandals or boots-depending on weather)
  • pajamas
  • swimsuit 1 or 2
  • tanks 2-3
  • shirts 2-3
  • long sleeve shirts 1-2 (include 1 merino wool in cold weather)
  • sweater or lightweight cardigan
  • scarf
  • zip pullover/fleece hoodie
  • yoga/travel capris or nice shorts
  • pants (2-3 nice athletic/travel or casual)
  • jeans 1 pair
  • dress or skirt 1 or 2
  • leggings
  • underwear 7 pair
  • socks 3-4 pair
  • bras 2-3
  • rain jacket or umbrella
  • packable down jacket
  • Lightweight pack towel (important for backpackers and hostel stays)
    Packing Cubes
    …these packing cubes, making organization easier

    How to Pack for any Trip

Packing Don’ts:

  • Don’t overpack.  Ask yourself: “Do I REALLY need to bring this?  Will this be provided for me at my destination?”
  • Don’t forget cash (some $USD will get you anything you’ve forgotten).
  • Don’t worry about getting currency ahead of time. Most airports have ATM machines after the Baggage Claim area. Use your debit card here to get a better exchange rate).
  • Don’t bring expensive jewelry or any items that cannot be replaced.
  • Don’t bring a hairdryer.  They will not work in Europe.  Also, many hotels, cruises, etc. provide them.  If not, buy an inexpensive one at your destination).
  • Don’t let your sense of fashion cause you to have aching feet.  You’re traveling: you’re probably going to be walking a lot.  Wear nice, comfortable shoes.  There’s not much way to avoid looking like a tourist, so you might as well be comfortable.
  • Don’t be in a hurry at the airport.  Try to relax and get your zen on, and be as courteous to airport staff as possible. Air travel can be frustrating, and as more people are realizing they can travel, lines are getting longer.  Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, park, check in, go through security, find your gate and relax with a latte and newspaper.

Most importantly, enjoy your trip.  Make memories that will last a lifetime.  Don’t let the little things like packing and getting there cause you to stress.

Safe travels!

Katie 🙂
Do you have any great packing tips you want to share?  Comment below:

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