What to wear when you travel

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Next Tuesday, Tate and I are traveling together for ten days. We’re heading over to the Middle East, to gather the rest of our household goods we left there, and to spend time with our friends.

If you haven’t yet gathered, I travel a LOT. Not always gleefully, but for the most part, I do enjoy it. It helps that over the years, I’ve learned to do it fairly well.

The key is to pack well. Packing too much can burden your trip and cloud your mind, leaving you to deal more with the stuff than with enjoying your experience. It’s pretty hard to pack too little, but it has happened to me before. When that happens, I spend too many brain cells thinking about that one thing I wish I had.

I pack the same when I’m traveling for a week or longer, no matter how long I’m gone or where I’m going. Here are my core essentials.


what to pack visual

Tank tops

Simple solid-colored tanks are versatile, lightweight, and pack tightly, so I bring 4-6 of them. I typically wear two at a time and can interchange all of them.

Cardigans

CardiganI bring 2-3 cardigans that will match all my tanks and are a variety of weights so that they serve different purposes. Cardigans can instantly dress up a tank top and skirt, and are great for those days where the weather fluctuates.

Jeans

One pair, in a dark rinse. Jewelry can make them dressier, or you can throw on a tank and go. I typically wear my jeans on the plane, so I don’t have to pack them—makes the suitcase even lighter.
Oasis mini skirt

Skirts

Simple a-line skirts look good on almost any body type, and are easy to pack as well. I take about 3 cotton skirts, also of various weights.

Lightweight sweater

Whether I’m traveling to the South or the Pacific Northwest, I toss in a thin sweater. You need a sweater in the mornings and evenings year-round in some climates, and in the south, some buildings crank up the A/C in the height of summer.

Old Navy t shirtShort-sleeved tees

I normally grab my tanks, but every now and then I want a t-shirt. I go with 2-3 solid-colored, well-fitting t-shirts that match my skirts. If it’s fall, I may exchange one of these for a long-sleeved tee.

Dressier blouse or tunic

I prefer jersey, so I can wad it up in the suitcase and go without an iron (I almost never iron anymore). This shirt should go with my jeans and be  good for evenings out. Leggings are also good with tunics, if it’s long enough.

Lightweight jacket

Unless it’s the dead of summer in a hot location, I also pack a structured, lightweight jacket. Or if it’s the dead of winter somewhere cold, in which I exchange the jacket for a coat.

Nice flats and sandals

I usually only bring 3 pair of shoes—a pair of comfortable flats, a pair of nicer-looking sandals, and a pair of flip-flops or Chacos. If it’s cold, I exchange the sandals for slip-ons or boots. They can each be worn with all the clothes in my bag, depending on where I’m going. Key: They must be comfortable. Must. And I wear the heaviest pair on the plane, so I don’t have to pack them.

Basic accessories

OGerard Yosca necklaceverseas, you can usually spot the Americans: their hair is in a wad, they may or may not be wearing pajama pants or a track suit, and they’re wearing running shoes no matter what the outfit. We don’t dress up when we travel, in other words.

Most other cultures do, almost all the time. I’d rather not stand out, and I kinda like to look nice. I keep them simple, small, and durable. My essential accessories are:

  • a lightweight scarf (it really does make everything dressier)
  • a pair of stud and a pair of dangle earrings
  • a few necklaces
  • a bracelet
  • sunglasses
  • a hair accessory, like a headband or clip
  • one, durable-yet-not-utilitarian-looking purse/bag

Jammies and undergarments

A simple t-shirt and pajama pants for sleeping and the obvious underwear are about it. I also include bike shorts for under skirts, especially in high humidity environments, if you get my drift. And love my Spanx cami for under tank tops so much that I never leave home without it anymore.

This is my core. In colder environments, I also pack the obvious outer gear, and exchange a tank top and tee for another sweater. In hot climates, I also pack my swimsuit and a summer hat.

Packing lightly can be done when everything coordinates, and when garments are well-made. This is my personal philosophy for clothing all the time, anyway, so honestly, I pretty much pack what I wear daily.

Finally, I toss in some laundry soap (I use soapnuts) and a clothesline, because I’d rather do laundry once or twice than lug around a cumbersome suitcase. I also want to make room for purchases made on the trip.

This is what I’m packing this weekend, and it’ll all fit in a small suitcase. That way, Tate and I can navigate customs and foreign airports without ill-behaved, heavy luggage.

I’d love to hear—what’s your essential clothing when you travel?

Join the Conversation

Comments

  1. Laundry soap and a clothesline is a great idea! I usually try to pack as lightly as possible, but I always pack extra clothes for hotel stays (versus stays with family members who have washing machines).

    Good luck on your trip! What fun to have a mother-daughter time like that.

  2. Books! ;) You can “wear” them, right?

    Hope you have a blessed time on your trip.

    Would love to know your current reads/faves, especially when traveling with children.

    xoxo michele

  3. What a list! Thanks for sharing this. I can share this to my girlfriend now!

  4. When I went to China for 3 weeks I went Carry On Only and brought 3 outfits: 3 blouses, 3 light weight slacks, a sweater, swimsuit, undies and jammies. I brought water shoes from LL Bean so I could get caught in the rain and know my shoes would be dry in the morning. No jewelry. Now I travel about once a month or so, domestically only, and pack the same way. When my kids travel with me I limit them to 3 outfits too. More room to pack special treasures!

    My eldest son and I will be traveling to China next summer. I can’t wait! I love traveling with just one child. Have fun!

  5. yes to bringing jewelry and other fun accessories to spruce up outfits when traveling! the first time i went to europe i was totally the hairwad, gaucho-wearing gross girl! the next time i went i learned my lesson – lots of cute cotton dresses, sandals and jewelry!

  6. No matter how much I travel, I always agonize over what to pack. Your list is super helpful!

  7. Mine is not as structured as yours but my aim is one carry-on suitcase. I’ve found that if I stick to the same colour palette I’m good, it’s when I want to start having other colours that I take one thing that can’t go with anything else :)

    When we went to the UK for 22 days one year I had a crazy plan – for the first half of the trip I took REALLY old tops and then just left them in the hotel’s bin. They needed to be decluttered anyway :)

  8. Comfortable shoes are very important to me and of course something cozy and warm, because I don’t like to feel cold!

  9. GREAT TIPS!

    we also travel all. the. time. (the joys of living overseas!) but being raised in an airline family means that packing was an essential skill…i’d add a dress or two and take out a tank/skirt. jersey dresses can instantly go from day to night, good for warm climates or for wearing tights under :) also, i’ve become a huge fan of the leotard-leggings in the winter (particularly in europe) – the cities are often not quite freezing, so boots, leggings and a sweater do the trick! with the leotard, you’ve got a built in tank, much warmer :) and finally, i’d agree that it’s easy to pick out North American tourists – we live in London and I work in a high tourist area – sports shoes are a dead giveaway and in many european cities you won’t be admitted to a nice restaurant/bar without appropriate footwear, jeans are fine, running shoes are a no-no!

    • Yes, I was going to add that you could swap out a tank/skirt for a dress. Most dresses don’t do well on me, however, being as short as I am. Separates tend to fit better.

      And I may do another post later about packing for winter, because I totally agree about leggings and books. Didn’t think of a leotard, though—good tip!

  10. avatar
    World_Runner says:

    I never pack jeans. They are too heavy and they take too long to dry. Instead, I have found some great travel pants by Royal Robbins and Lands End. They can be casual or dressy and they dry super fast. I also stick to one color scheme. I will usually take two bottoms (pants and/or skirts) plus 3-4 tops along with accessories. Everything has to match everything else. If I have a favorite shirt but it only goes with one pair of pants it gets left at home. I also enjoy running wherever we are so I always take my running clothes and running shoes. I take 2 pairs of shoes only – my running shoes and a pair of good travel shoes that look good with a casual or dressy outfit. Right now my faves are the Teva Westwater 2. Because I take my running clothes I always have some type of underlayer – a lightweight but thermal top and tights can go under anything and create layers of warmth without adding bulk – important when traveling to colder climates. I always say, “They brush their teeth in Rome too!” to remind me that even if I forget something I can probably find a substitute wherever in the world we are.

    Great list by the way! :)

  11. I love this, Tsh! Such a great, helpful post! I always TRY to pack light, but I feel I still haven’t quite mastered it – I’ll be bookmarking this for reference next time I travel, for sure! And I completely agree with you on the dressing up thing: my husband and I spent part of our honeymoon in Paris, and I made sure to bring my best shoes, a few fun necklaces, a skirt, etc., and we had a great experience. There was absolutely none of the supposed French “rudeness” you hear about, and I think a bit of this (aside from the fact that I think French people are a lot nicer than Americans give them credit for!) had to do with putting a bit of effort into dressing up. It’s respectful.

    Thanks again, and sorry for rambling! :)

    • We LOVE France, and found the people to be lovely. It definitely helps to not stand out like an American—dress nicer, use your “inside” voice, etc.

  12. Um, are those clothes from my closet? Tsh, I think we have the same style! (Although I could use a lot more cute accessories!)

    I had no idea Spanx made camis. I wear them all the time under plain tees, especially my white ones, but I’m not crazy about any of them. Spanx has such a good reputation I definitely want to check them out–a good cami is a key staple for me and it’s worth finding a great one!

  13. Thanks for this! We are headed to Paris for ten days in about a week and I’ve been trying to decide what to pack. This list was perfect!

  14. So is there somewhere where I can order one of each of everything in the photo?! I love your style and interchangeability of the pieces. :)

    When I was in college I had a friend who always chose to dress “up” rather than down when she travelled, even when just flying home for the holidays. I started doing the same and it really made a difference in how I carried myself. You can dress comfortably without looking like you just rolled out of bed.

    • I know you’re joking, but oddly enough you can click on the image and it’ll take you to Polyvore, where I created the set, and it’ll tell you where everything’s from. I did my best to keep everything under $50—the only things that aren’t are the white jacket and the skirt with the thick blue-green stripe at the bottom.

    • I agree, I am in love with your clothing choices! I love simple and classy. Great packing tips. I have gotten better over the years but have a long way to go! Thanks for this.

      • Ditto to Rachel and Anna.
        Question about your soap nuts (I use them too). Do you do anything to cover the nutty smell (if you get sweaty)? I have added a drop or two of essential oils to my muslin bag before each wash. It helps some, but not completely. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  15. I notice you’ve got a pair of Tom’s pictured. I’ve heard they are super comfy, but wear out fast. I’d be curious, what’s your take on them? Well made and worth the price? Or just a (charitable) fad?

    • That is a whole ‘nother post, but in short, I’m okay with them (though I do think they’re a bit overpriced), and I think they do good work in spite of being a fad. They’re using trendy methods to do good work, overall.

  16. I love this post! It sounds like we have very similar styles (and coloring, even!) I practically live in jewel-toned fitted tanks layered with cardigans (of different styles, colors, and weights), scarves, or necklaces. I usually wear nice jeans or skirts, with comfortable but attractive shoes. I have a small wardrobe to begin with, so almost all of my clothing can be mixed and matched fairly successfully. I used to pack tons of stuff when I went anywhere, but in recent years I’ve really appreciated packing light.

    My husband and I honeymooned in Europe a few years ago, and I definitely noticed all of the Americans in horrible outfits, etc. Actually, no one believed we were American (I think because we were dressed presentably and tried to speak the local languages before just barreling into English assuming the other person would understand us, etc).

  17. i’d love to know what your and everyone else’s recommendations or preferences are for the best carry-on bags for those of us who prefer to travel lightly and efficiently. i love ‘lug’ bags myself. maybe you could do an article on that…or maybe you already have. if you already have, please point me to it! :)

  18. I travel often and can get everything I need into one carry-on – no matter how long the trip – with one exception. I still haven’t figured out how to manage a hair dryer, straightening iron, several brushes for blowing out thick really wavy hair!! I guess I need to simplify my hair!!

    I agree that your packing list will work well; I learned to travel like that when I lived in Europe and we took trains everywhere! One extra tip I have is to pack a simple black one piece bathing suit. It can do double duty as a top (even an evening top depending on the style you choose).

    • I don’t bother with my hair gadgets when I travel, usually, unless it’s a straight-forward trip and I have more than enough room. But… my hair is also pretty straight-forward. Definitely looks better when I use a straightening iron, but it doesn’t look awful without it.

      Also, there’s very little point in carrying all those things to a different country with a different electrical voltage and outlets. And many hotels often have hair dryers in the rooms.

      • I also have super thick wavy hair. I’ve found embracing it rather than fighting it simplifies my life sooo much. I only break our the hair dryer and straightener for weddings or dates now.

        Here’s what I did to make life more sane:
        -I have a great hair stylist and have her cut layers. It reduces the bulk. I keep my shortest layer at chin length or longer.
        -I wash my hair 1-2x’s/week, let it towel dry about 10 mins, brush and apply either a curling cream or coconut oil. Air dry, avoid hair ties until dry.
        -I never, under any circumstances, brush it again until after the next hair wash. If it needs smoothing I gently use my fingers. I

        That’s it. I wouldn’t say I have amazing hair, but I feel great and confident in it : )

  19. jeans and sneaker to travel: jeans ’cause are too bulky for suitcase and sneaker ’cause are comfortable if you have to run after a train!!! :-)

  20. Great post! I used Eagle Creek’s backpack with removable day pack, back in the day, too!

    I’m curious about what all you are packing for Tate, clothes-wise, and activities-wise?

    • Clothes-wise, it’s more or less the same, without the jewelry and exchanging shorts for the skirts (she’s still in an I Hate Skirts phase). 3-4 t-shirts (probably just 1 tank top), 1 sweater, jeans, one cotton dress “just in case,” a jacket, underwear, a pair of tennies and a pair of sandals.

      Entertainment-wise, I’ll upload a few new movies from iTunes to kill time in airports or the plane (if they don’t have individual TV screens), and we’re going to start Little Women as our next read-aloud, which is free on Kindle. She loves to write, so I’ll get her a blank spiral notebook and a pen, a few colored pencils, and maybe a couple light-weight books.

      She’s quite used to traveling (this will be her 52nd plane ride), and she’s 6.5 now, so she’s gotten fairly good at entertaining herself. We’ll see… :)

  21. I work from home and travel for work about one to two times a month. Since I’m in business meetings I tend to pack 1 business jacket, 1 each skirt and pants and 1-2 shirts and then mix and match with the spanxx. Depending on the downtime and weather, I try and pack slacks (from Lands end) or a pair of shorts from LL Bean and 1 t-shirt. My husband always kids me that the t-shirt is usually a Texas (cause Hook ‘em!!) one. I bring heels that work with both the dressy clothes and the slacks; as well as a pair of sneakers and I throw in a cardigan and have condensed all my other travel essentials into the qt size bag (1 with liquids, 1 with everything else including accessories). I grab a t-shirt from my husband and sleep in that. Everything fits in the smallest carry-on. In addition I have a backpack that I stuff my small purse into with my macbook and usually an accordian file folder with important papers. If I forget something I try not to panic- I will panic if I forget my mobile hotspot. Everything else I can work around, access to internet with no time to go to place with Wifi=bad times. Traveling for fun means dumping the suits and the computer/work for shorts, tanks and a swimsuit.

  22. This is timely we are heading out to India early November…I always under pack and take more native clothes than anything only because its cotton and lightweight and i do not want to stand out…. Time and again I always pack more for my toddler than myself…

  23. sorry second question, i wanted to ask…can you use soapnuts in a place where u do not have a washing machine and when washing clothes are done by hand??have you on your travels??

    • You can make a soapnut soak, which I did in the Philippines. In the morning, put a handful of soapnuts in a glass of warm water, and let it sit all day. In the evening, strain out the nuts, fill the sink with water, and use the soak as you would liquid detergent.

  24. As a carry-on I love LLBean’s backpack/bag http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/64438?feat=504163-CL2
    Also – as far as travel essentials, I can’t leave home with out my nice thin Gap sweats http://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=64493&vid=1&pid=857248 They double as sleep wear.

  25. Excellent post!

    Now. What clothes and activities do you pack for your kids?

    I just got back from an 11hr trip with my 18 month old who cried the whole of the 4.5hr flight, was fine at the 3.5 hr stopover, and thankfully passed out for last leg of our journey (after crying for 20mins) being a 2 hr flight home.

    I was exhausted, and that wasn’t an international flight! (Just going from West Coast BC to East Coast NB in Canada).

    Do you have any tips or tricks?!?! PLEASE!

    Thanks,
    Sarah

  26. Awesome post.. I also usually travel quite light as well. I like the idea of dressing well while you travel too, especially in Europe. I traveled to England and Italy one spring with a friend’s brother, he gave me a “dress code”, sounds mean but I’ve stuck with it ever since!! It was no runners, sport sandals, definitely no socks with sandals, no shorts, and an over the shoulder bag not backpack… basically don’t stand out as a typical North American toursit ;0
    I’ve added into my packing list: pashmina’s: to act as a scarf to warm me up, or as coverage if going into a temple or church, or sarong’s if going to a warmer climate.
    Have so much fun on your next adventure!

  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I cannot seem to pack for a long weekend without going over the weight limit. When my husband I traveled to South Africa earlier this year, I had to buy another suitcase AT THE AIRPORT just to get home!!! I am printing out your post and filing it away for my Girlfriend’s Trip next February. Five days and four nights in NYC…surely I can do that without going over, right?

  28. usually my bag includes similar things as yours, of course it depends on the place where we travel to. BUT i always take something for a rainy weather, some waterproof windbrakers or a nylon coat. (to the Sahara, of course not:)) the laeundry-soad is a brilliant idea by the way, thanks for it;)

  29. Oh my. I used to travel for business, and it was either training classes or a conference. The business was an international beauty company and appearance was everything! I always crammed a suitcase to 50 pounds and had a carry-on with lap top and other heavy items, plus my big purse. Thanks goodness that job is gone and those days are over! Now I pack as light as possible, and my style is more colored tees and jeans or khakis and sandals. The problem lately is going to blogging conferences where you come home with a suitcase full of swag!
    Bernice

  30. Just wanted to wish you strength! Facing the “leftover” pieces of your home is not easy. May this be time of peace and healing, joy of time spent with just your firstborn, experiences and conversations that hopefully will make your bond even stronger. May you have favour of God and men at all the borders and flights.

  31. I’m a carry-on only kind of gal. I learned that years ago after our honeymoon and taking too much time to check bags. Now that the hubs has airline privileges, we’re the last ones on the plane (stand by) and there probably isn’t any overhead bin space left by that time. So we have really learned to pack small: our bags will probably end up at our feet. We use small duffels.
    I take: 4 tops, sox, and underwear. 2 slacks (or skirts or shorts or a combo). One wrap of some kind. Swimsuit if appropriate. PJ’s. Of those, I wear one complete set. I wear a very versatile pair of shoes or sandals and only pack one other pair if absolutely necessary. All my toiletries fit in one Eagle Creek quarter cube. My tiny purse fits inside the duffel, as does my reading material, camera, journal and a handful of art supplies. That’s all I take.

  32. I’m traveling to the north from Florida in October, and while I don’t have alot of cool weather clothes, I need to bring long sleeved sweaters and maybe even a hat! The good thing is that I’m staying with family, so I can do laundry there, and if I get too cold, one of my sisters can lend me a sweatshirt! :)
    I am still trying to figure out how to pack so that I can just do carry on. I haven’t decided on whether or not to bring my laptop, while it has all my favorites, it takes up space, and there are several computers/laptops that I can check email and facebook. Decision, decisions!

  33. I typically only have “neutral” coloured bottoms anyway (pants, skirts) and prefer no jeans–they are so uncomfortable for traveling, and too heavy for the suitcase. Two pairs of PJ pants that can double as swimsuit covers as needed. Tank tops can be slept in.

    The biggest thing is that I DON’T take one colour palette. I’m a colourful person, if I wore blue or neutrals for an entire week I’d go crazy. Every shirt is a different colour, and I have a pair of socks to match or they’re neutral. Sweaters are neutral or match the shirts, depending on length of stay and what’s in my closet right now. (Two years ago I had all neutral sweaters. Now they’re all colours except one. Not sure how that happened, but it did!)

    Where I go crazy is accessories. I’d rather take one less shirt and half of my jewelry box if I have to choose. I might only wear half of the accessories I take, but when it comes to switching up outfits, I’d rather switch earrings and necklaces and throw my hair up differently than switch out the whole thing.

    Inevitably I take too many pairs of socks and underwear for most packing lists. I’ll take three full outfits that can mix and match a bit to do me for 2 weeks when I have a washer and dryer available every day, but have enough socks and underwear to last me the whole trip if I only wore one a day. Without fail, I still run out halfway through the trip, because whatever I was wearing today will show pantyline with what I’m wearing tonight, or there was too much walking with a shower between events. No one wants to wear dirty socks!!

    My last trip was three weeks long. I had everything packed into a carry-on sized suitcase, wore some things four times and a couple things never got touched because I just wasn’t ever in the mood. I took note of those things to leave behind next time. What’s important to me is that if I have 4 solid-colour comfy tops and 5 going with me, that 5th top has to be jazzy and patterned and have a fun cut to it. I may only wear it once, but you can be sure it will be a welcome relief from the traveling uniform!

  34. My essential item when travelling are my jeans (a staple of every woman’s wardrobe, I’m sure), my flat but dressy boots and a big pack of face wipes.

    We’re about 1700kms from the nearest city so it’s a killer of a drive – much like the flight between Sydney & LA… but longer… a lot longer… and no in-flight movies or little bags of peanuts. Face-wipes (or even baby-wipes in a pinch) are just the thing to help you feel refreshed when you’ve been sitting in the car for 22hrs straight.

  35. Hi Tsh!

    Can you wear the Spanx cami without a bra and still be modest? I love wearing tanks in the summer and HATE bra straps showing! The cami alone underneath would be perfect!

    Enjoy your trip!
    Trish

    • Umm…. It depends on what God has given you. I suppose some people could. I, however, could not. :)

      Most unfortunately, I might add.

  36. The key to packing light is to choose a small suitcase/carryon. I managed a trip for 4 weeks with a backpack and a computer bag. It carried all clothes, personal items, electronic gadgets, and other necessary items for entertainment.
    I had access to a washer/dryer, so that made it easy, but I still packed enough clothes for 1 week, multiple books, my computer, personal items, etc.
    You need to roll your clothes instead of folding them and use all the small spaces around the edges for socks and underwear, but it is doable.

  37. Hmm, I also did not know spanx made tank tops. Do they roll up? (I hate it when camis do that.) And do they give one a (for lack of a better word) uniboob?? ;)

  38. Thanks so much – this is really helpful!! And now I apparently need to go shopping…. ;)

  39. My Ipod is a must when I’m traveling, there is no way I would be able to sleep in the car or plane without it! I also make sure I always have a cardigan, and am wearing flats. I definitely go for the cute/casual feel when traveling.

  40. Ziploc bags! I love the 1 gallon and 2 gallon sizes. On a trip years ago somebody’s suntan lotion leaked and soaked into my bag and clothes, which meant doing laundry asap. Now I pack my clothes into zip bags, usually by complete outfits, then squish all the air out and zip it up. Easy to find the outfit I want and it’s great for organizing the kids’ clothes too. Also, it means that nothing gets lost or messed up when TSA searches my bag.

  41. This may seem strange but I make myself take clothing I never wear. If I bought a cute top or pants yet have never worn them, I pack them. This way I am forced to wear them while out of my normal element. It also helps me not feel guilty for buying something and never wearing it.

  42. I feel as tho I’ve been schooled! I pack more than that to go away for the weekend…to our vacay house…where I have clothes. Shame on me. Wow.

  43. Very helpful list – I will pass it on! Like you, I can’t travel without a couple of lightweight cardigans. I usually pack one white and one navy cardigan so they can easily match my shirt or tank and I can take it off if it gets too hot.

  44. avatar
    Josephine Wyatt says:

    One thing to bring is also a black dress, white blouse, two types of jeans, skinny and regular width. Black pair of pants and dressy blouse.

  45. This was such a helpful blog post for women travelers! I loved all the tips. Anatomie Wear has some really great travel clothes for women. We use wrinkle-free fabric that is really light weight so it its very functional for packing (especially for us girls!) We have great pants and tops for plane rides or adventuring the towns. Check out our Product Review Program as well as our Affiliate Program. Let me know if you’re interested…loving your blog, keep it up!

  46. Shhh…dont’ tell my husband about this page, I’ll never hear the end of it ;-). I tend to bring too much unless I’m visiting family and can easily wash clothes. Thanks for this list though! I will keep this in mind when I pack for our next trip in a couple of weeks. Granted it is Yosemite National Park so I’ll probably skip most accessories, but the rest goes everywhere! As some others I would add a thin shawl for most trips. Ideally silk or thin wool/cashmere or a blend of the those. It is amazing how warming it can be on a cool airplane. I too bring workout clothes and sneakers (which adds a bit of a luxurious 4th pair of shoes, because I do NOT wear then any other time than working out…except maybe hiking). Usually traveling with two young kiddos (and not feeling like making sure all toiletries are carry-on size) I end up checking at least one bag, and most clothes. However, I always pack any favorite (perfect fit jeans if not wearing them)/no-can-do-without (clothes for a wedding)/hard to replace (ballet flats might be easy to find, dyed to match dress shoes, not so easy) items in the carry-on. Of course, this should only be a couple of items if any :-)

  47. I have a question. I’m planning a walking tour of certain areas of Italy next summer. Have you ever done a walking tour (2-5 miles per day)? And what are the best shoes for a walking tour? And what’s the best luggage for a 10 day overseas holiday?

    Thank you,
    Monica

    • avatar
      rebecca says:

      invest in some decent, properly waterproof, properly fitted to you hiking boots! wear them in well in advance, i’d also recommend walking socks. by the third or fourth day you will be kicking yourself if you are only wearing sneakers/shoes without ankle support or if your boots are worn in properly.

  48. I can usually pack light for myself. Your list is awesome. I love the part about usually spotting Americans with their hair in a wad and running shoes. So true.
    I ALWAYS pack my leggings ( my go-to travel outfit) and running shoes/bra.
    Now I’m curious about Tate’s suitcase. How do you pack light for a child? I can never seem to pack light for my 3yo son. I’m always so afraid I’ll run out of clean/stainless clothes.

  49. Great list! My tried and true packing list looks quite similar to yours. The scarf was my essential item when I was living in Egypt and traveling heavily in the Middle East. There were many situations I was so grateful to have that versatile scarf- when it was 115+ degrees F and I just couldn’t force myself to throw on a cardigan as a “cover up” or when it was ffffreezing on the airplane. Now that we’re in Ecuador and many of our travels involve the Andes, I add my trusty pair of hiking boots, a fleece, warm socks, and a comfortable pair of hiking boots.

  50. Enjoyed your list! Some good tips, and even more in the comments. One thing I find handy to include is bags to put washing in – so I can keep an eye on what’s clean and what’s not. Over time, I seem to have got quite a lot of the cotton eco-bags, so we put some of those in. Once we’re heading home, one rucksack gets filled just with the items to wash, and the other gets the clean things – speeds up the washing and unpacking when we get home. I smiled at your comment re how different nationalities are viewed when abroad. When I studied at one stage, I was the only Brit on the course. There was a definite scale of dressiness, with the Japanese and Eastern Europeans at the top in terms of how well-turned out they were, even for every day. Let’s just say that the Brits were viewed somewhat further down the scale…

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