Packing and unpacking are a big part of the trip. Most people give up right here for organizing their getaway. Learning to pack wisely is a must for any traveller.
An airplane company nowadays allows this amount of luggage for a family of 4:
Anyway, I want to believe that, seeing this, you don’t think:” Great! This is what I want to deal with when being on a well-deserved vacation!”
What do I need to pack?
If you want to make it simple, you can’t take your whole wardrobe with you, except if you are a hard-core minimalist and your wardrobe already fits in a carry-on.
Let’s admit that you are not. The first mistake is to want to keep having every choice you have in your everyday life during your trip. You must take adequate clothes for what you will be doing, not for what may pop-up by chance. Remember you are lucky enough not to have to carry your home wherever you go.
Why 4 days?
The “4-days” rule is both a maximum and a minimum. It’s the maximum of days you have to foresee because beyond that you’ll have to wash your clothes. If you are a family, there are chances that you won’t fit any more clothes than 3 days of outfits in a washing mashing, especially if you are not in northern America. If you are not a family, I don’t think that you’ll want to keep in a suitcase dirty clothes more than 3 days in a row.
A less than 4 days’ trip is not very scary, and I want to believe that anyone motivated enough would be able to fit everything in a carry-on. My purpose is to help you with the more difficult task of packing from 4 days to whatever you want for your vacations. Therefore 4 days is a minimum!
My packing advice for summer travel needs
Clothes are the lightest and the easiest. So let’s start with the rest of your “things,” the heaviest and/or largest ones.
You will need shoes! But not dozens of pairs. They are taking a large part of your suitcase, and you must wisely think if you don’t want to have your carry-on full of shoes only. You will undoubtedly need sandals or flip-flops. They are useful for any occasion during the summer. If you choose them wisely, you can find some that are comfortable enough to walk with, and elegant and discrete enough to wear for dinner. For men, I wouldn’t count on that. There are chances that you will feel more at ease with shoes that are covering your feet for this occasion. You can take some clean light dressed sports shoes such as Converse, Vans or our favourite Bensimon. Ideal for the previously mentioned dinner for men, or any occasion for ladies.
If you are planning a lot of walks, depending on the difficulty, trainers if possible, or hiking shoes if not. In that case, you will have to either fit them in your suitcase or more probably wear them during the journey.
If you chose well your sandals and light canvas shoes, you wouldn’t need anything classier than these. It’s summer, and none will ask you to wear Louboutin stilettos unless if you are planning to meet a Royal Family member.
These few essentials personal to me from “L’Occitane” are fitting in a 5 inches pouch.
Most of the places have shampoo, shower gel, and even some nourishing cream if you are not obsessed with one brand. Men won’t be allowed to carry their razor anyway. So, if you miss anything when arriving, buy it! The weight you will carry, plus the risk to have them spilt all other the rest of your luggage are not worth the risk of not finding the perfect product. As Dominique Loreau says in her book, one should not travel if she/he can’t bear the idea of changing her/his shampoo or toothpaste brand for few days. The truth is, travelling involves being open. Maybe this should start before you leave your home and pack your luggage.
Don’t forget the essentials, as you wouldn’t want to ruin your trip because of a cold or stomach flu. You are more sensible when travelling, and you don’t want to look everywhere for a pharmacy when you don’t know the neighbourhood. Remember that walking more than usual involves blisters or small scratches. Pack some few antiseptic plasters; nothing can’t be efficiently cleaned with soap.
For the rest of it, it depends on your personal needs, but keep in mind the sun is your best friend (less make up) and your worst so try to protect your skin adequately. Once more, don’t bring 2 gallons of sunscreen. Have a small bottle and then buy what you need when you are there. The same for mosquitos: each place has its bugs, and it’s far more efficient to buy a local product.
If shoes are the large part of your luggage, this one is the heavy one! Being a travel blogger I must have some few devices that allow me to post, write, take photos… so I can’t avoid all these. But I try to pack smart and light. I make sure we all be able to charge whatever we take at the same time in a single hotel room, so there won’t be any bad surprise. We never count on switching the devices to charge several with the same charger, because it never works, and we keep you up most of the night. You need to rest so make sure you have enough plugs and adaptor for all your most important devices.
At last! Here is my best advice: light pack clothes that dry fast.
Pack for 4 days regarding tops, 5 regarding socks and underwear, take 2 Pj’s because you’ll probably be doing your laundry at night, 1 pants (trousers), 1 or two shorts, never underestimate the use of a swimsuit as it won’t take much space in your carry-on. Don’t forget a jumper (a light one should do). You might also consider a light windbreaker, and a large scarf (“chèche”) as you can use it as a scarf, sun protection, towel, blanket, picnic blanket, laundry bag… they are so light that you can clean them easily they dry in no time.
If you think you will need it, a fancy top, matching your pants (trousers) for dinner, or a black dress for ladies, crease-resistant is far better!
Of course, a cap or hat for the sun and shades are a must-have! Be safe from the sun and never forget these!
No miracle here!
Anyway, there is no miracle: if you want to feel lighter, the only way is to pack less! You have to rethink everything, and truly appreciate if you can do without it, instead of thinking you may need it.
Here is a downloadable list of essentials, to be adapted according to your needs of course. Print it and pin it on your fridge to get used to the idea of needing less, then you’ll soon feel uncomfortable with a big suitcase!
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