I’m really excited to welcome Karen Dawkins today for our A to Z Packing Tips series. She’s here to share some of her best tips for packing light and traveling smarter!
A friend and I met up in Washington, D.C. for four days. We both flew there. She arrived before I did, with her two checked bags, carry-on bag and a purse. When I arrived, with my carryon bag and purse, she laughed. After a quick hug, she said, “I knew I’d learn some packing tricks from you.”
She watched as I opened my bag, neatly packed with no wasted space. I pulled out a plastic bag and withdrew my shoes from it. One shoe held all my medications (allergies, you know), and the other contained my underwear. As I kept unpacking, she literally giggled as I shared each tip.
While I’d love to travel with you to teach my packing strategies, that’s probably not practical. How about if I take you through it step by step so you can pack like a pro, too?
What’s INSIDE my bag? And why?
FIrst, I think about what I really need for my trip. Too often we pack for “might needs” instead of making ourselves pack must haves. When I’m deciding what to take on a trip I ask myself, “Do I NEED this or is this a just-in-case?” If it’s a just in case, I leave it home.
Second, I pack using a color palette. Many travel sites recommend black or gray as universal travel colors. My go-to is navy. Guess what! That’s okay. If you like a particular color, use that as your base color palette and build around it.
Third, l pack double duty clothes. I tend to pack a shirt for each day of travel, but that’s because I can’t keep photos straight during a trip if I wear a top twice. I pack pants, shorts and skirts that are versatile and can be worn at least twice. The first time, I wear the pants or shorts with a dressier top. The second time, I’ll wear them with a t-shirt for an active day. I also pack a neutral (usually white) cardigan for the occasional cool night or overly air conditioned restaurant.
On an upcoming trip, I will be visiting museums one day and riding a river trail later in the week. For the museum day, I’ll wear shorts with a purple top. For the bike riding day, the same shorts will work with a t-shirt.
Fourth, I use ziplock bags. More than once, I’ve had a bottle spill during travel. I learned — the second time — that bottles can’t be trusted. I always pack liquids in ziplock bags, just in case one pops open during travel. The spill is better contained leaving less chance of clothes being dirtied. Also, packing bottles in ziplock bags keeps them together which helps me stay organized.
Fifth, include emergency items. I call these the “MacGyver” of travel tools — for those old enough to remember the show. The best one, a binder clip, can be used in so many ways: to hold hotel room curtains closed, hang a wet swimsuit, seal a bag of chips so they don’t spill or organize papers. Other versatile emergency items are medical tape and ziplock bags. With the right “stuff” on hand and a little creativity, minor travel emergencies are easy to address.
What’s INSIDE your bag?
We’d love to hear your creative packing solutions. How do you pack to travel light and still be prepared for anything?
About Karen Dawkins
Karen Dawkins is the creator of Family Travels on a Budget, a website devoted to helping families travel better for less. As she says, “Budget doesn’t mean cheap. It’s smart!” She has also been featured in print and online markets and on podcast. Follow her on Instagram and Pinterest to learn her latest tips and ideas.
Thanks so much Karen for the awesome tips about packing light! Check out the other great posts in our A to Z Packing Tips series:
Thank you Jessica for an excellent and helpful post about hiking with dogs! Check out the other great posts in our A to Z Packing Tips series:
Alcohol & Wine, Building Lists & Plans, Chargers are a Must
D’s to Remember, Embark on a Cruise, First Aid Kits
Games for Any Family Trip, Hiking with Dogs