If you are anything like me (meaning your have moved 12 times in 23 years) you will know what it means to pack up a house and move. If you are not like me and have never moved from the home in which you now reside, then hopefully you have been on some sort of trip that has forced you to pack an overnight bag. Hopefully. If you have never been on an overnight trip, please downsize this page, open up a new tab under expedia.com. Return to this article when you have a printed confirmation of your 4 day Disney cruise to Alaska or the Bahamas.
For those of you still reading I’m sure the thought of packing an overnight bag invokes a feeling of either excitement or panic….. or procrastination. For most, packing for a trip brings on feelings of excitement and anticipation as your vacation draws closer, promising to be even better than the last one. However, for others (mainly me) packing stirs up procrastination and panic, with one preceding the other.
In my case, I put off even the thought of packing until the very last minute, which coincides with us leaving for the airport. At that point I panic, grab a duffle bag and literally throw everything in but the cat.
And the usually the result is I have to pay extra at the ticket counter because my bag weighs a meager 120 lbs. Does this sound familiar to you? If it does, don’t give up! There’s hope! We can break this vicious cycle! With the help of a well-traveled grandmother, I created a list of must-have items that you shouldn’t leave the country (or home) without.
The first item that should be packed neatly at the bottom of your suitcase is your favorite pair of jeans. Not only are jeans a comfortable and easy basic (see Back to Basics), but they are adaptable to all climates and literally go with everything. If you’re headed for warmer weather trade your long denim pants in for a pair of jeans shorts, or if you have room bring both. If your trip is going to be short one, only bring one or two bottom pieces; there is no need to have a different pant or skirt for each day. In addition to the jean, a windbreaker or a cargo jacket is an excellent piece to add to your duffle bag. I find that if the weather I’m headed towards is uncertain, a water-proof cargo jacket is the safest way to go as an outer layer; plus they usually have big pockets which means more room in your duffle bag for interesting finds….like a Snickers or Butterfinger. Underneath your candy-laden coat, it’s good to have a couple of v-neck t-shirts in basic colors like navy, white or gray. It has been my experience that when on vacation I forget to use my basic motor functions and spill what I’m eating or drinking, therefore an extra shirt always comes in handy [again, remember to keep it to a minimum, you’ll only need two or three]. If you feel that a t-shirt is too plain add a versatile scarf as a pop of color/bib. And if you have it, throw a boyfriend cardigan in your bag as well; I usually wear mine underneath my cargo jacket to prevent hyperthermia while flying with any major airline.
Now to the most important; shoes. This is the one item that I truly struggle to keep to a minimum. The rational side of me says to bring a pair of running shoes and a comfortable flat, while the fashion maven says “GRAB EVERYTHING!! WHAT IF YOU’RE INVITED TO A BALL AND THEN A RODEO!!??!!!”. What can I say……..it’s an internal struggle. But I have managed to narrow it down to three sets of shoes based on the season. If you’re going somewhere warmer, pack running shoes, flats and an opened toed heel. If headed towards a cooler climate, bring running shoes, boots and a closed toed heel. Easy enough.
Now I know this should go without saying, but say it I will. ALWAYS bring more underwear and socks than you think you need. This is the only case where excess is acceptable. Don’t be that person that flips their undergarments inside out and opts to wear shoes without socks because you’ll end up traveling alone [sidenote: author does not speak from experience]. Aside from your basic toiletries like a toothbrush and deodorant, your bag should be pretty well packed. I like to throw in a casual dress and a dog-eared copy of Jane Eyre, but that’s just me. Maybe you would rather add a hat (see The Perfect Summer Accessory) and a couple Sudoku puzzles.
I think I will close this article with some words of wisdom about travel and packing from my globe-trotting grandmother….
“Keep it comfortable when you travel”
“Geography dictates your packing”
“Bring lots of chocolate back to your family” (personal favorite)
Hope this is useful!