Once you decide the means by which you will travel and about checking baggage on a plane or train, you can start planning what to pack. Once I discovered how little I really need for even a three and a half weeks’ travel, I started traveling this way even on short trips. I have spent many trips in past years coming home and finding several things in the suitcase that I never used at all.
For this particular packing plan, let’s say you are flying somewhere for 2-3 weeks. There are some things that you absolutely need and some that you really want. Start by making lists of needs and wants. Your needs will be things like medications, some clothing, and bathroom supplies. Things you really “want” will probably include electronics and charging cords.
If you are flying, remember the TSA 3-1-1 rule. Liquids need to be in 3.4 oz. containers. All of these containers need to fit into one 1 quart zipper bag. Remember that liquids include shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, liquid or paste makeup, lipstick, deodorant, perfume, artificial tears, antibiotic ointment, etc. Remember, also, that hotels are going to have shampoo and soap. I carry my spray hair conditioner, because I like a certain kind. However, I pitch it when I head home. I don’t take shampoo at all, but just use what the hotel provides. If I am staying a couple of weeks, I will purchase some shampoo that I like at the destination and leave it behind. I take travel size toothpaste and deodorant. I take sample size lipstick and perfume (many department stores will give you one of the brand you purchase there).
When packing clothing, remember you are on vacation. Unless you are going to a wedding or a “fancy” party, casual or business clothing should be all you will need. Try to take tops and bottoms that are interchangeable. I wear jeans (heavy and cumbersome to pack) and take black slacks. I can manage indefinitely with the pants I wear and two extra pair, one in my briefcase and one in my suitcase. I make sure the tops I take can be worn with any of the bottoms so I never have to worry about what matches.
Remember that you can wash your clothes and wear them again – just like you do at home. I take TSA-approved laundry sheets for small wash-outs in the sink. However, I do use a coin operated laundry for heavy things like jeans and try to do this once everything is dirty except what I have on. If you want to go to the laundromat, it helps if all your clothing items can go in one load in a washer without fading. No reason to double the cost if they can go in one load. The laundromat I used in Paris in 2015 did not have a workable soap machine, so I stopped at the grocery a block down the road to purchase some. I had not thought about needing to know all the French words for the kind of detergent I needed and the young man stocking the shelves didn’t speak English. I finally read enough on the box to find the words for “by hand or machine” and figured that would be fine.
Depending on the weather, you will need to decide on outer wear. However, even in a warm climate, sometimes it gets cool. Always be sure to have a sweater or light jacket. I always make sure to have at least one long-sleeved shirt too for layering with an outer garment. For the ladies, scarves can dress up an outfit or keep you very warm. I have found also that scarves make the perfect souvenir for myself and friends.
Wear comfortable shoes. Comfort is much more important than looks. I take one extra pair, usually sandals in the summer. These pack flat and are light. (Remember, you always want to wear the heaviest and most space-consuming items and pack the lighter ones.)
I have never had a TSA agent ask about my medications. However, there could always be a first time and, since I keep them in a carry-on, I make sure they are organized. I ask the pharmacy for small bottles with current labels for prescriptions. I put all of these in one baggie and all of my OTC drug items in another baggie. I take my empty week day pill container that I use at home and fill it up once I arrive at my destination so I don’t have a problem forgetting my meds.
Another thing you want with you on the plane is your charging cord for your cell phone. Other chargers are optional to carry on, but I keep them all together. I roll each cord tightly and stick them all in another baggie. Can you tell why my adult children call me the “bag lady?”