Just got back from Cancun last night and I thought I would share some advice on packing for trips that I’ve learned the hard way after years of packing heavy.
Back in October when I took my trip through Italy, I backpacked! Which means I carried all of my possessions on my back, and had to consolidate my packing list way, WAY down. (I’m talking 3 pairs of underwear for my 15-day vacation that I washed every other night in the sink.) There just isn’t the space to carry anything unnecessary when you backpack.
Ever since that trip, I’ve been changing the way that I pack my bags for all of my vacations (not just the backpacking ones). Weekend trips, road trips, and now my extended vacations! And I thought I would share my success in consolidating packing for my trip to Cancun!
Consider how you’re taking your luggage. If it’s a typical vacation where you’re staying at one or two hotels/AirBnbs, then you’re good to take a roll-y luggage. If it’s gonna be a backpack on your back, then every item adds weight so you’ll need to be extremely critical of what you bring. My trip to Cancun I used a roll-y luggage, so I gave myself a little luxury by adding extra clothing and books. I would never add items like that inside a backpack.
Lay out everything you want to bring. Lay it out like you can see every item on it’s own, and group it in categories. It should take up a lot of space but this step is worth it. It should look like this image below. The pile below is actually a lot better than I used to be. I used to have pretty much two outfits per day, one for the beach, and then one for dinner later that night. I was bringing WAY too many clothes. So although my pile looks like a lot, it’s WAY less than I used to pack to start out with.
Cut out every item you don’t NEED. This is really hard, I love adding clothing or accessories that are cute, but unless I have a specific use for it, I take it out of my pile. I had already started with a small selection, but back in the day I’d have a swimsuit and outfit for everyday. This just isn’t necessary I’ve found for vacations. It’s perfectly fine to re-wear outfits 2-3 times. When it’s dirty or if they start to smell even a little, then I wash it in the sink, and air dry them, easy peasy. Anyway, for my step of consolidating, I took out the following: 2 tank tops, 2 swimsuits, 1 sundress, 1 pair of shorts, 1 beach hat (these never travel well), a pair of flip flops, my whole bottle of Tums (I brought enough for a week instead, dang Mexican food), tanning oil, and a bottle of sunblock.
These are the items I took out:
And here’s what I ended up with:
- 5 pairs of underwear,
- 5 swimsuits,
- 3 shorts,
- 3 tank tops,
- 3 short-served shirts,
- 1 maxi skirt,
- 1 pair of loose pants,
- 1 sports bra,
- 1 pair of workout shorts,
- 1 pair of workout shoes,
- 2 flip flops,
- 2 bottles of sunscreen for my body,
- 2 small bottles of facial sunscreen,
- 1 beach towel,
- a straightener & curling iron (both totally unnecessary, I only used these once, I should have left them out!
- minimized toiletries,
- a little makeup,
- a beach speaker,
- 3 books,
- 1 journal,
- a nerf football,
- a lightweight day-backpack for the beach,
- bug spray,
- and snorkel gear!!
Now, that sounds like a lot, and it is! But you’ll see that this was pretty easy to compact down to a small amount of space in the next step.
Pick out the bulkiest things to wear on the plane. I used to pack a separate outfit for the plane rides, but I’ve learned this isn’t necessary. Instead, I took from my pile the items I would wear on the plane. For me it was my pants, sweater, workout shoes, & my thicker t-shirt. There’s no need to pack a separate outfit for the plane, bring only items you’ll use on your vacation. Here’s the outfit I pulled out to wear:
Use Ziploc Travel storage bags. These are amazing! You place folded clothing inside, and roll them to take out all of the air. All of my clothing then fit in two bags in an extremely compact space.
Once all is said and done, look how little space it all of those items take up, amazing, right?
I love learning more about how to consolidate my packing list for vacations, are there other tricks you have used to pack light? If so, please add some comments below!