The “You’re Not Going To The Prom Or A Gala So You Don’t Need To Bring That” Packing List
Updated: May 17, 2018
I am a minimalist when it comes to packing. I pack to meet TSA standards because really, who wants to be delayed by one wrong item? I have a packing motto that most people laugh at but don’t use. Once they see it, they giggle a bit and then begin packing everything that they might need on vacation. They pull out the largest piece of luggage they own and fill it to the gills with things that they “might” need. I don’t believe in that. I keep it simple.
“You’re not going to the prom or a gala so you don’t need to bring that.”
First thing. Before I begin packing I know what my travel uniform is going to be. I always wear a comfortable, flowing top, leggings and comfortable walking shoes. I also wear my light jacket or raincoat that is listed on my packing list. My jacket or raincoat is lightweight enough that I can keep it on me on the chilly plane or shove it in my “plane purse”.
If I plan on wearing jewelry during my trip, I put it all on for the flight. Earrings, a necklace and maybe a bracelet are all that I bring. If I think I might need a special necklace or earring combo for a nice dinner (I never do that though), I’ll wrap it a thin piece of cloth and tuck it in my cosmetics / toiletry bag. One spare jewelry set is really enough.
Second thing. I always create a loose itinerary when I travel. I know what sites I’m planning on seeing, the weather or if I am going out to a special dinner or theater show. I review the itinerary and pack according to it. I make very few exceptions to my minimalist travel plan.
I only pack a carry on suitcase and a personal carry item, my “plane purse”. Most US airlines allow a bag that is 9” x 14” x 22” as your carry on suitcase. One of the cheaper but nicer airlines allows a slightly larger bag. One of the cheaper but not as nice airlines allows a slightly smaller bag. Before you make a suitcase purchase, check the airline website that you use the most. It you travel by car, then size still matters. You want your suitcase to fit in the trunk with room for everyone else’s luggage. I’d stay within the 9” x 14” x 22” parameters.
My “You...Don’t Need To Bring That” Packing list is set for about 4 or 5 vacation days. Most people over pack so my suggestions should be enough to get you through a 4 or 5 day trip. If you decide that you need more, you’ll have to remove something. I say 2 or 3 pairs of jeans or pants. If you decide you need 4 pair, you are going to have to remove something. If you decide you need 4 pairs of shoes, you are going to have to nix 2 or the 7 dresses you are planning to bring.
A few pairs of jeans, a few shirts, a sweater or sweatshirt, pjs, socks and under things, a nice dress or outfit and a nice pair of shoes are just a few essentials. If you are staying in house share lodging, you will probably have a washer and dryer. You can wash your clothes midway through the trip so you need fewer than 17 pairs of jeans.If you are in a hotel, there might not be a washer and dryer but you still don’t need a ton of clothes.
My cosmetic / toiletry bag is minimally packed as well. I always remember that I can get some things at my destination. I don’t need a full sized toothpaste. Travel size is fine. If I run out I can get more. I also carry some things in solid form so they don’t have to go in my liquids bag. I carry a bar soap instead of shower gel. I know that some places make bar shampoo if you need to carry shampoo with you.
The cosmetics portion of my cosmetic / toiletry bag comes in travel size too. When I buy my skin care, I ask for mini sizes. The skin care line that I use does have a travel size. You can also ask your makeup consultant for mini sizes too. And, do you really need 4 lipsticks? Can you get away with a smaller bottle of foundation or powder foundation instead? I know folks that carry a large makeup bag with them. If you want to pack that, it’s fine but you are going to have to remove 2 of those 5 swimsuits if you do that.
My personal carry item, my “plane purse”, carries all of those things that I will need on the plane. There are very few “just in case” items. Remember, this item has to fit under the seat in front of you. The nice thing about a backpack is that you have several pockets to keep items in. Your empty water bottle can go on the outside of your backpack. Your electronic items can go in a bag on the inside of your “plane purse”.
Vacation is supposed to be a getaway from it all. It’s supposed to be relaxing and fun. If you are packing everything that you “might” need, you might be adding stress to your travel. Who is going to lug that heavy bag? Are you going to have to pay $25 - $75 extra dollars (each way) for checked luggage and then wait an extra 20 minutes to collect it after your plane ride? Are you going to be the one whose suitcase doesn’t fit in the trunk of the car? 9 times out of 10 the “just in case” item will not be missed.
And if it is, you can probably buy a new one when you get to your destination.
Note: If you are interested in a copy of my “You’re Not Going To The Prom Or A Gala So You Don’t Need To Bring That” Packing List, please visit my Travel Tips page!