I’ll preface this post with a little disclaimer: I almost always try to pack as light as possible. I’m not one of those girls who hauls three bags through airport security and checks another two for a week-long domestic trip (or even for a six month international trip…but more on that in a second!). Then again, I’m not a fashion blogger who’s literal job is to bring a million different outfits on each trip, etc, etc. But I always have to laugh when I see posts about what a struggle it is to use just a carry on…because it really, really isn’t that hard. Promise!
I’ll be going to Paris with my family this summer, and I think we will be checking bags this time. You may be wondering why we wouldn’t check bags for a week-long, international trip, but when we spent two weeks in London between my sophomore and junior year of college, my parents insisted that we bring carry on bags (!) to last us the entire time. About six months later when I left for my semester abroad in Scotland, I brought along only one (really big) suitcase and a backpack. I ended up purchasing a small roller bag for weekend travel, and it was cheap enough that I could just leave it behind when the school year ended. But guys. I traveled abroad from mid-January through late May with one bag. You can do it for one weekend, I promise! 😉 Still not convinced? Here are a few tips of mine:
Scope out the scene: When traveling this past year, I’ve primarily been going to weddings or to visit friends. During my most recent trip to NYC, I opted to bring a backpack and a larger tote bag rather than a bag and a suitcase because I knew I’d be staying a couple of different places and didn’t want to have to wheel my suitcase around the city. For the weddings, I’ve generally stuck to a carry on suitcase and a backpack. My suitcase has definitely been filled to the brim, but that was mainly because I liked to bring a couple of different outfit options for each event–and I’m glad I did! I had bought a dress specifically for the wedding I was invited to in April, but when I realized how cold the weather was on the day of, I decided to wear a backup option and felt much more confident in it!
My friends and I have rented Airbnbs for several of our most recent trips, and they’ll often indicate whether important items such as hair dryers and towels are provided. Can’t tell based on the website? If you have friends arriving to the destination ahead of time, ask them to scope out the scene. I realllllly didn’t want to have to haul a huge hairdryer across the country with me when I was packing for Seattle, but a friend who had checked in earlier noted that each and every bathroom was fully stocked! When we were in Florida for another wedding, it appeared that our Airbnb had limited towels, and we knew we’d need several in order for the 10 of us to each have one to use at the beach and have a separate one for showers. We told some of the latecomers to pack as many extra towels as possible, only to find an extra closet full of them after the rest of our friends arrived–oops! But better to be safe than sorry, I guess! Moral of the story: Scope out the scene as best as possible before packing (or having friends pack) items that may be provided already!
Be practical: While I’m great at packing light, I’m not always excellent at actually bringing the things I need. My mom used to “joke” that I packed badly on purpose so that I’d have an excuse to go shopping whenever I reached my destination, but that really wasn’t the case. Promise! Later, I’d often bring too many things that I just never ended up using. When we go to Florida, I really only need to pack clothes, because I keep toiletries, hair tools, flip flops, and other items at our place down there, which makes things super easy! I’ve also learned that I’m mainly lounging around when we’re at home, so tons of Nike shorts and t-shirts are a must. My grandma’s retirement complex is a bit dressier, so I always bring some nicer options for when we have dinner over there. I used to bring a ton of cute casual outfits with me and never really ended up wearing them, because I’m really either fairly dressed up or really dressed down when I’m there. And as much as I try to convince my family to help me with some outfit shoots for the blog, the answer is usually no…. So most of the fun items will stay at home until they change their mind. 😉 Moral of the story: if something looks cute but it’s really unlikely that you’ll wear it, just leave it at home.
Don’t wait until the last minute: I’m that weirdo who always packs DAYS (if not more…) in advance. I enjoy packing and like feeling super organized before my trip (which is funny, because I could care less about getting to the airport early…as long as I have time to grab a coffee at the gate before the plane boards, then we’re good!). However, packing in advance will save you stress in the long run. I’ve definitely started putting items in my suitcase only to realize that I need to buy a new pair of tights or a certain toiletry before my trip, and if I know a few days in advance, it makes things much easier. Also, make sure you have enough of all of your prescription meds prior to a trip. If you’ll be traveling for a week or more and will need a refill before you leave, take care of that well in advance, too. CVS is everywhere (and I refill a lot of my prescriptions in Florida as needed), but depending on where you are and who you’re with, heading to the pharmacy could just end up being a hassle, so plan ahead! Moral of the story: Don’t wait until 11 pm on your first day of vacation to refill that nightly prescription.
Don’t forget something fun: When else are you going to where that adorable sequined sunhat if you don’t bring it to the beach?! I’m definitely guilty of buying fun, nonessential items for such and such trip that I’m taking, and I think everybody does that from time to time! Don’t forget to pack that special piece of clothing or accessory that you just had to get, and enjoy using it! Moral of the story: Just because you’re packing light doesn’t mean you have to be 100 percent practical 😉 Bon voyage!