How to Pack for Vacations
In order to produce the podcast and keep content up free for you, I work with partners so this post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info.
I'm not fond of flying mainly because of the uncertainty of customer service we'll get. We've had wonderful service and we've had some bad service that I hope we avoid this trip.
I would like to have everything in 2 carry on bags and since this is only for a week, we should be able to pull this off.
Our Packing List
Besides underwear and socks, I wanted to include our packing list as a reminder for us and a way to keep us focused.
I'll update this when we pack for the trip to see if I keep to the plan.
- Athletic shoes
- Boxers / Briefs
- Dress Shirt &Tie
- Dress shoes
- Swim Trunks
- Bathing suit -2
- Dress -2
- Versatile Tops -5
- Tank tops -5
I plan on layering my outfits and keeping the shirts light.
- Makeup bag
- Facial cleanser
- Dental floss
- Styling products
Packing for every possible scenario will increase your luggage haul, drive you crazy, and will be a waste of time. Worldwide travelers will many time recommend keeping it simple.
Packing Tips for Stuff
When we vacationed before, I went to Wiki How and picked up on some great packing advice that I still use.
- Pack clothing using the “roll” technique. Lay a few items on top of one another, flatten them out, and roll them up like you would a sleeping bag. This simple technique will save space and prevent wrinkles. For added wrinkle insurance, place a sheet of heavy tissue or packing paper between items of clothing before rolling.
- Enclose toiletry containers in airtight plastic bags to prevent contents from spilling into your suitcase in the event of a leak. Wrap socks or pajamas around breakable items to cushion them.
- Have travel size toiletries. If you need more, you can grab some at the hotel or a nearby store.
Rolling our clothes has definitely helped and we're able to fit more in the same bag.
United Checked Baggage and Carry On Policies and Fees
- United/Canada: $25 for first checked baggage, $30 for the second
- International: First checked bag is free; 2nd is $45-$50
To qualify as a carry on, you must follow United's guidelines, which say your bag:
- must fit under your seat or in the overhead bin;
- must not be more than 9 x 14 x 22 inches (23 x 35 x 56 cm) or 45 linear inches* (114 linear cm); and
- may be required to travel as checked baggage if the bag cannot be safely stowed on your flight.
For more information, check out United's site for the latest prices.
Your Thoughts on Packing for Vacations
I know some of you are regular travels, so I hoping you have some advice on packing light. What are your favorite must-pack items?
I’ve gone on couples trips, family trips, bachelor parties, and small groups. Every 20-something year old needs the following when going away (especially beach trips):
-Sunscreen/Aloe Vera. I don’t care how macho you think you are. If you want to treat your skin, you need both!
– Protection. Enough said.
– Swim shorts AND dress shorts. You don’t want to be the idiot going to dinner in swimming trunks (I’ve seen it).
-iPod/a few books. Nothing helps kill downtime like listening to some music or reading an interesting book.
Great idea on the iPod. I usually bring a good size book or two to help me relax. I can grab some new tunes too before the trip.
Now I feel bad, because I’m checking a bag for a 3 day trip. LOL It’s mostly because I don’t want to deal with my carryon during layovers, though.
This tip doesn’t apply to you, since you’re carrying everything on, but if you’re checking bags, don’t pack a “his” bag and a “her” bag. Make sure some of your clothing goes in each bag. That way if a bag gets lost, you’ll both still have some clothes.
This is a useful post…. I came to Egypt to live with a big 30kg suitcase and a full carry on….. Hoping to leave with less than I came in another year, really going to cut down on things.
@Lynnae: You’re so right with your tip! That’s what happened with us on our honeymoon. I’m glad we had clothes in each other’s bag and suitcase.
Layovers are not much fun for me, but this trip isn’t going to be so bad (I hope).
I hope you have a wonderful trip!
@Forest: Decluttering is easier than done. We’re cutting back on our stuff now and it can be hard to part with some stuff.
Hey Elle – thanks for the practical post and for sharing your packing list!
My wife and I went to Italy for two weeks using carry-on sized suitcases. Her parents bought them from Rick Steves’ Travel Store. They were light-weight, collapsable, and fit well in those smaller European cars.
We packed layerable clothing and made use of washing machines along the way (I’m a fan of the rolling technique, too). Given all the travel between cities, we never had to stress about lugging large bags along. Plus, we didn’t have to pay extra of heavy bags on flights between cities over there.
It was pretty fun to see how simple we could travel and still have a blast. And because we absolutely hate the way airlines handle bagagge (from check in, to transfers for layovers, to claim carousels), we will likely never check a bag again.
Thanks for the post!
There are two kinds of luggage, carry on and lost. The last time I checked a bag was in 1997.
Our family of 4 went to Europe for a month the summer of 2008. We each took a carry on and that was it. We did laundry at the end of week 1, 2 and 3 and arrived home at the end of the 4th week in our last clean clothes. I still think we took way too much and plan to cut back more for this summer’s expedition.
My key rules are:
1. Never take more than 1 week of clothing. Plan to do laundry or have it done. For longer trips check in advance to see what services are available. Some hotels & cruise ships have DIY laundry rooms, some laudromats will do it for you while you’re out sightseeing. If you’re gone more than a few days do you really want to be carrying around dirty clothes from day 1? Ick.
2. Everything must go with at least 3 other things. Matching everything else is better.
3. Two pairs of shoes max. The ones you’re wearing and one pair in the bag. Always travel in the bulkiest pair if possible.
4. Everything in medium to dark colours (shows dirt less and everything can be washed together). If you plan to do laundry along the way and have any items easily hand washed in a hotel sink take them (hotel shampoo makes an acceptable soap).
5. All liquids must now be 100ml or less and all fit in a 1 liter ziplock bag. Put the bag in an outside pocket of your suitcase so you can pull it out for inspection without having to open your bag and dig through your underwear to find it.
6. Don’t duplicate among the group – I see you have floss and toothpaste on both your lists. Simplify. Skip the tweezers for a week long trip. Do what you need to the night before you leave and that’s it. Some airport inspectors see them only as a sharp object…
7. Pack a flat cloth bag (eg. grocery bag) in the bottom of your case. If you do any shopping and can’t get it in your suitcase for the return trip you can always check your suitcase and take the cloth bag as your carryon. I have a plain black vinyl lined shoulder bag I take. While I’m away it doubles as my beach bag, shopping bag, and general sunscreen/hat/water bottle carrier for the whole family. Make sure you pack a lock for your bag even if you don’t plan to check it.
I’ve had several road warriors tell me that making a packing list works very well in helping you pack efficiently. So far, I’ve been ignoring their advice but now that I want to avoid paying for checked bags, I’ve got to learn every trick in the book to travel with just a carry-on. I think the list you shared will come in very handy when I try to decide on outfits that will fit in my 21” Briggs & Riley wheeled luggage. I like the idea of carrying dresses, shorts and capris as opposed to jeans that tend to occupy a lot of space. And to dress up, I can team them up with funky accessories and silk scarves.