I know, I know. You probably read the title of this post and thought, “Colleen, we aren’t going anywhere and you aren’t supposed to be going anywhere either!” And you are right, but right now the occasional short and safe adventure is okay by me.

Actually, I think a little staycation at an AirBNB or hotel is exactly what Dr. Colleen would prescribe after the year we have had.

To be clear, I am not recommending, encouraging or suggesting that you travel irresponsibly right now or even think about getting on a plane if you do not have to. But, I think a safe trip away for a short period of time is a-okay.

My husband and I are going on an overnight trip to a very nice hotel in West Virginia this weekend and I wanted to share some packing tips and tricks with you to maybe help you improve your travel experiences now and in the future.

You may think that you don’t need help with packing, but I think we can all be more efficient and be better prepared for any trips that we may go on. Also, if you are like me, you have had that annoying experience where you are away from home and had to go buy something at the local, expensive convenience store or grocery store. Then, when you get home you are left with more stuff that you probably won’t use or will just take up space. We don’t have time for that! So, let’s get better at packing, shall we?

As always, I welcome even more packing tips from you guys. Also, please enjoy the below airport selfie. If you don’t have an airport selfie, did you even travel?

Tip #1: Figure out what you are going to be doing. Consult your itinerary or lack there of.

I can’t be the only one that didn’t bring a bathing suit on a trip and had to scramble to buy one last minute while wasting precious vacation time. Become familiar with where you are staying and the area in which you will be exploring. Is there a need for a bathing suit? Are you going to be active on this trip? Are you going to be going to casual places exclusively or is there a need for a nice dress and some heels?

I like to try to be as prepared as possible without planning my entire trip. I don’t usually work off of an itinerary and like to be spontaneous on my trips.

*Note: I have no experience in traveling to countries where they may have stricter policies and cultural practices on dress, but I would recommend looking into those types of things before you travel.

Tip #2: Check the weather wherever you are going and pack accordingly.

Obviously, you can’t predict the weather completely, but you can check the forecast of the place(s) you are visiting and pack accordingly. For example, when Logan and I will be traveling this weekend, it will be cold and possibly rainy. I’m packing a beanie, gloves, durable shoes and a thick jacket, along with sweaters and fluffy socks to make sure that I stay comfortable and dry throughout the entire trip.

Tip #3: Bring your own cosmetics, hygiene products, shower essentials, etc.

I have fallen victim to the “Oh, I’ll just use whatever they have at the hotel” mentality and been left using conditioner that is not meant for my hair and also not enough for my hair.

Reusable bottles are a very good purchase, in my opinion. This way you are using your own products, but not wasting travel size cosmetics that are overpriced and don’t usually have enough product in them and you are not lugging around your full-sized products.

Tip #4: Plan your outfits!

Maybe I am not a good packer, but I have put myself in the not-so-fun situation of running out of clothes to wear or packing an outfit that doesn’t fit me or doesn’t look right with the other items that I have packed.

Here’s what I have done as of late to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore. I lay out all of the pieces that I think I will want to wear, then I make them into outfits. I like to have several different pairing options for each piece. Then, I TRY THEM ON. I know, annoying, but worth it.

Trying on the pieces and outfits removes the unnecessary items from your luggage and allows you to make better choices about what you are packing.

Tip #5: Pack stuff you are willing to be parted with.

Allow me to impart my wisdom on you. Pack clothes that are old, falling apart and are on their way to the clothing recycle bin. This way if said clothes get gross somewhere along your trip, you can pitch them and feel no shame about it.

Logan and I traveled to New Zealand in 2018 into 2019 (you can read more about that trip here) and were abroad for two weeks. During those two weeks, we did a lot of stuff and some of our clothes did not deserve to make the trip back home with us. In the Honolulu airport, I threw away everything I was wearing at the time because they smelled, they were worn and pilled and I wasn’t going to wear them again. There was no reason to bring them home with me.

I know this is not the most eco-friendly practice, however, you probably don’t travel internationally or for extensive periods of time with no access to washing machines and driers very often, so the waste is worth it for me.

I swear this is the best tip I can offer because getting rid of our stinky clothes in the airport made our luggage a little less crammed and allowed for us to not feel bad buying souvenirs and other goodies on our trip.

Tip #6: Pack a sweater, sweatshirt, hoodie, light jacket, whatever.

I think my mom ingrained this in my head some time around birth. Just bring one. You’ll need it no matter what, even if you are going to a spa in hell, just do it.

Tip #7: Make a packing list that includes everything you need.

After you’ve put your outfits together and gotten your cosmetics together, make a list of everything you are going to be taking with you, adding in electronics, accessories and anything else you can think of. For me, I always include some snacks (looking at you, Claire, my snack queen), a good book, a journal and a pen. (A pen may sound like a dumb thing to include, but I didn’t bring a single pen to New Zealand.)

Having a list keeps you organized and allows you to make sure you have everything when you are packing to go home.

Tip #8: Bring a few extras of the essentials.

I always pack a few extra pairs of underwear, socks and anything else I deem essential. That is unique to each person, so you’ll have to decide that one for yourself.

Things I Recommend Packing:

  1. Q-Tips – This is another thing I didn’t pack when we went to New Zealand and I was scrambling to find some mid-trip.
  2. Clorox wipes – In the age of COVID-19 and for average cleanliness, these are necessary to wipe down planes, trains and automobiles.
  3. Baby wipes – In the age of COVID-19 and for average cleanliness, these are necessary to wipe down hands, shoulders, knees and toes. Oh and bums.
  4. Rain jacket – We didn’t bring rain jackets to New Zealand either and it rained a decent amount. It’s a very good idea to invest in nice ones that fold up into a little carrying case. (The husband sporting his rain jacket is pictured above.)
  5. Reusables (water bottle, coffee tumbler, utensils and grocery bag) – These will save you money and will create less waste while you are on your trip. Collapsible water bottles are a game changer because they can become really small and don’t take up much room when they aren’t full. (Shout out to my girl, Haley, who got us collapsible water bottles for our honeymoon.)
  6. A small bag or purse + A tote bag – I say bring two bags so that you can use the bigger bag as a carry-on and pack the small bag inside your carry-on. It’s also nice to have a small bag when you are exploring, instead of having to carry a large tote bag around everywhere. Your carry-on should also hold your most important things, like your wallet and passport, that you may not want to have on you at all times.
  7. Bobby pins (for f*#k’s sake) – Can y’all believe I had two bobby pins on our whole trip to New Zealand? Sheesh. They are easy to lose, so bring extras if you have a lot of hair, like me, or just use them often.
  8. Portable chargers + car chargers + solar chargers – When Logan and I drove cross country, chargers of any sort were absolute life savers because our phones, cameras and iPods (it was 2014, ok?) were constantly in use and always dying. Solar chargers are ideal for road trips because you can charge the charger on your dashboard.
  9. A neck pillow – If you are flying or taking a bus anywhere, buy and pack a good neck pillow. You will not regret it, I promise. ( I am utilizing mine in the above photo during our layover in Hawaii.)

Your packing will look a little different depending on where you go, but these tips and recommended items are important for any trip, no matter where you are going, how far away you are going and what your stay looks like when you get to your destination.

I hope these tips help you out and you can learn from my mistakes. I have traveled a lot in the past few years and have gotten a crash course in packing and traveling, but there is always room for enjoyable traveling.

Please share with me your best packing tips and recommended essentials to pack and then go ahead and book yourself a safe weekend away!

I would feel comfortable posting about my experience traveling with dogs, how I planned my first international trip and how I planned a trip across the country, so please let me know if those are topics you would like me to post about.