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Travel Packing 101: Tips to Pack for a Week or More

Packing Tips for International TravelPacking 101

“Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel.” – Yogi Berra

Funny! But the luggage you choose to use when traveling can make or break your trip. Knowing how to pack light is the key to safe, easy and smooth travel. Here are my top ten tips whether you are traveling for a week or longer.

  1. 20 pounds in a 9″ × 22″ × 14″ carry-on-size bag! You might ask: How do you fit a whole trip’s worth of luggage into a small backpack or suitcase? The answer is simple: Bring very little.
  2. If you can’t possibly fit everything into one bag that you can carry on, then take a small backpack with you too. This is a must as you’ll want to keep medications, travel documents, cash/credit cards and other essentials with you at all times. Plus it doubles as a day-pack for hikes and city walking.
  3. Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario. Pack for the best-case scenario and simply buy yourself out of any jams. Bring layers rather than take a heavy coat. Think in terms of what you can do without.
  4. Whether you’re traveling for three weeks or three months, pack exactly the same. To keep your clothes tightly packed and well organized, zip them up in packing cubes. For smaller items, use plastic or mesh bags.
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  5. I strongly suggest using a packing list, such as Rick Steves’ packing list. Others can be found at or
  6. Travel has its fair share of unhappy surprises. In one lightweight little pouch pack these essentials: adhesive bandages, small hand sanitizer, antibiotic cream, moleskin (for blisters), tweezers, ibuprofen, cold and diarrhea medicine (non-liquid if possible), prescription medicines, after-sun cream/spray, plus a thermometer if you have kids.
  7. Clothing gets abused when traveling. I always include a small sewing kit. Yours should have: 6 colors of thread, 3 sewing needles, 3 straight pins, a safety pin, 2 clear buttons, 2 snap repairs, a needle-threader, and a mini-scissors. You can often buy these at your local supermarket.
  8. Always pack a variety of plastic zip-top bags and either a plastic or cloth bag. The zip-top bags come in handy for liquids, seashells or other collectibles, and more. The cloth bag is essential for separating dirty from clean laundry.
  9. Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes and bring concentrated laundry detergent and spot remover as you’ll be doing some washing. Of course you can also utilize local or hotel laundry services if you prefer not to wash by hand.
  10. Know what NOT to pack! Don’t pack your entire beauty routine, or valuable jewelry. Leave unnecessary gadgets at home (think book lights, toothbrush sanitizers, etc.). If you can buy it there or the hotel provides it, don’t bring it! Know TSA guidelines and don’t bring what you aren’t allowed.

Happy packing!  And, like always, if you’ve got anything to add, I’d love to know it.

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Updated July 2019