I think all of my fellow travelers out there can probably say that they’ve struggled at one time or another knowing exactly what to pack when traveling to a particular destination. I know that I definitely have. Though you can scour different blogs and Pinterest for ideas of what you should bring (I know that I definitely do. The resources are endless.), I’m here to approach it a little differently. Everyone has their own style and not everyone’s travel experience is the same. So, I think it’s primarily important to focus on how to go about choosing what to pack rather than only on what to pack, specifically packing light into one carry-on and a purse, because who doesn’t like to travel light? Not only does it save you money on flights with budget airlines like EasyJet, Ryanair, and Aer Lingus, but it also saves your back and your feet from extreme discomfort!
Most of these tips I learned along the way in my own travels due to messes that I got into during my travels. Basically, these are the things that I learned after struggling through some sort of discomfort.
1. Look at the weather of your destination!
This is the absolute best tip that I feel that I can give you out of this list. There is nothing like being caught in a rainstorm wearing your cotton, lightweight jacket that you’ve had since you were 18 was completely soaked through within two minutes. (guilty!) Do your research about what the climate is generally like in your destination before you go. Does it rain most of the time? Is it generally hotter or colder? Should you expect a lot of wind?
In addition to that, a week before you go, check the weather for the specific days that you will be there. Though weather is crazy and can change even within the same day, a week ahead will at least give you a good idea of what you should expect. I personally love to use http://www.weather.com. You can look at the weather for the day of, 5 days ahead, 10 days ahead, and even a month ahead (though honestly looking a month ahead is unwise as it is very likely to change). It also tells you whether it’s sunny/cloudy/windy, what the levels of humidity are like, the likelihood of precipitation, and the exact temperature with and without wind in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. I absolutely love it because 45 degrees Fahrenheit with sunshine feels completely different than 45 degrees Fahrenheit with cloud cover.
2. Consider the activities that you are participating in during your travels!
Having to end up hiking in your thick soled, doc martins because you forgot to bring your tennis shoes can end up causing you to have extreme blisters on all areas of your feet and heals, making the rest of your trip quite uncomfortable. (Again, quite guilty!) Go through your itinerary and make a list of things that you expect to do while you are traveling. Do you plan to go camping or hiking? Do you plan to go out to clubs, bars, and restaurants many times as well? Do you plan to walk most of the time instead of taking public transport? Do you plan to go to museums or art galleries?
You’re going to really want to know that you are well covered with all the potential things that might come up so that you don’t get stuck hiking in a pair of thick, not made for hiking boots!
3. Think comfort, think versatility.
While you’re traveling, you are going to be away from all the comforts of home, obviously, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still be comfortable. You are going to want to pack items that will keep you rather comfortable during your travels, as well as items that are multi-functional. Do you really want to bring that sequined top that’s a bit scratchy just because it looks super hot on you and you might go out to a club? I’d advise you to not, instead bring a top that you find comfortable to wear, that you can either dress down for walking around the city during the day or that you can dress up with a cute necklace for going out to bars and clubs. Then not only will you be comfortable, but you will also be versatile, saving yourself from having to pack two separate tops for two separate occasions.
Also, when thinking about what activities you’ll be doing, think about what items of clothing will make you feel the most comfortable in those situations but also look appropriate. For example, if you know you are going to go hiking, pack of pair of tennis shoes that you can also use for walking around the city during the day, so as to avoid getting blisters. I like to pack some yoga pants that will be comfortable to hike in but that can be dressed up with a cute tee and a cute cardigan with my boots for casual wear while I’m walking about the city. For museums and art galleries during my travels, I really like to pack one pair of nice but comfortable jeans and a cute top that can be easily transferable to going out at night. Again, think comfort, think versatility.
Don’t just consider clothing when considering comfort though. I advise thinking about packing things in case discomfort does occur. For example, I like to pack bandages (for in case my heals get blistered), chapstick (due to chapped lips from wind and cold), and advil (for in case you get headaches from dehydration). Also, consider packing a travel blanket and a travel pillow. You never know when you are going to have to sleep on a plane, train, bus, or in any stations or airports.
4. Expect the unexpected!
I live by one golden rule while traveling: never be without a clean pair of underwear! I always pack extras just in case. Getting a little personal here, as a woman, I really don’t want a little friend creeping up on me while on my travels, because even though my cycles are quite regular and even though I can usually plan around them, sometimes stress from traveling, slight change in diet, change in environment, and traveling with other women can change them. So, it’s best to pack extra under things just in case. In addition to that, it’s good to pack a few feminine hygiene products as well, you know, just in case (Don’t, however, pack an entire box. That’s just a waste of space. Plus, if you get really desperate for space, all women in all countries go through the same thing. So, feminine hygiene products should be available for purchase no matter where you are).
This bit of advice doesn’t just apply to woman though. Men should follow this advice, too, just as much as woman should. Who knows? You might get caught in a rainstorm and have all of your clothes get soaked. You might fall into a mud puddle while hiking. You might have your flight home canceled, leaving you in your destination with the clothes you have on you. Though most people can stand to wear the same jeans and shirt a couple days in a row, I doubt most people like to wear the same under clothes for an extended period of time (Am I right?!).
Even though the weather says that it’s suppose to be sunny 100% of the time, bring that small umbrella anyways. You just never know when the skies are going to open up on you.
I like to bring a small notebook and a pen with me at all times. You never know when your phone is going to die on you, leaving you without data and having to jot down notes of directions real quick from a local. Perhaps, you even run across some people that suggest a fantastic place to eat, you don’t want to be without a way of remembering the name and/or the address! We can’t be 100% reliant on technology, because we all know that batteries run out and sometimes technology breaks for no apparent reason.
I also always make sure to pack at least one hat if there is any possibility at all of chilly weather, even if it’s as small as a one percent chance (pretty much from the months of September to May). As someone that is quite petite, I do tend to get cold easily, so I don’t want to leave myself without some way of warming up. Plus, hats are generally small pieces of clothing that you can roll into a tight ball so that it doesn’t take up too much space in your pack.
With every new travelling experience, something new gets added to the list or something gets taken off the list before my next trip. Don’t make the same mistakes that I’ve made. Plan ahead and do your research!
I hope this is helpful for all of you fellow travelers out there!
Do you have any other tips on how to go about choosing what to pack on your travels? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Until the next time…
A plus mes amis….