Packing for Vacation

12 Jun 2018

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere and time for many people to go on vacation. If you are a workaholic who feels guilty for taking time off, get over it. Learn from your European cousins who typically take 4-6 weeks off every year.

It’s good to throw guilt to the wind and embrace the fact that you are a human who needs rest and realizes there is more to life than working. In trying to bring balance into every aspect of my life, it’s good to take some serious time off.

Holidays and vacations are necessary for our mental and physical health. They are good for the soul. They are good for the body. They are good for relationships.

So here is some advice from my years of travel. Doing a search, I realize there are multiple web sites that offer advice on planning and packing.; so I will include some links at the end of the article.

Here are packing tips I’ve learned:

– Probably the most important item you can pack. Get good ones like Mac’s silicone earplugs (available from
Amazon, Target and drugstores). They block out sounds like jet engines, hotel air conditioners, roosters, people who snore, street noise, and other people’s music, as well as water when you swim. I never leave home without them! Eyeshades are a good companion.

Plastic bags – Put your shoes in grocery store bags and take extra ones for dirty clothes. Use various sizes of Ziplock bags to organize your misc. stuff. That way your things are not only organized but also protected from potential hazards. If your bags are opened for security checks, items are less likely to fall out and get lost. And if your luggage is damaged, you’re less likely to lose stuff. Trust me, twice I’ve gone to a luggage carousel to find my bag ripped open and stuff falling out and missing! Pack anything that can leak (like liquids) in plastic bags to avoid a potential mess.

Snacks – You may think you will have time to eat between flights, but there are delays and sometimes you can go for many hours with no opportunity to buy food. Airlines not longer provide meals in the U.S., even on some long flights (like to Hawaii), so be prepared. Some good options with protein are string cheese, nuts, and power bars. Snacks help cure the boredom of road trips and keep you from stopping so often.

Water bottle – With all the extreme airline security requirements, you are not allowed to being your own liquids. However, you can take an empty water bottle and fill it from a water fountain inside the airport. It’s certainly cheaper than buying drinks at the airport!

Hangers – There are never enough hangers where you’re going; at least not where I go. I have some inflatable hangers I bought in Europe, though wire hangers from the dry cleaner are another option. Here are some I found at Amazon.

Mini Power strip
– This is especially important for international travel where there are often not enough plugs in a room and they are often in inconvenient locations. This one is clever as it takes plugs from different countries, has a retractable cord and includes USB charging ports. For international travel, you also need plug adapters, though not power adapters as almost all electronics are now dual voltage (110/220). That said, a 110/220v hairdryer is a good investment; Conair makes an inexpensive one. You can usually pick up a plug adapter locally.

Carry-on bag – If you can pack everything you need in a carry-on bag, you will avoid paying pesky checked baggage fees. I used to take everything but the kitchen sink on trips, but eventually learned to travel much lighter. If I can do it, you can too! Also, if you are going to be moving about at all, you will appreciate having much less to lug around. Check with your airline for baggage requirements and fees.

Travel-size containers – I’m always amazed to see people hauling around regular sizes of products like shampoo. Make the initial investment to buy small containers, then reuse them on future trips.

Pillow – Travel by car will usually allow you to take your regular favorite pillow. For plane travel, take an inflatable pillow, neck pillow or memory foam. If you want to sleep, either on the journey or at your destination, having your own pillow can make a huge difference. While I normally prefer an aisle seat, I often get a window seat on overnight flights. Then I use my pillow (and sometimes my own blanket) to lean against the bulkhead (wall) to sleep.

Slippers – Hard bottom moccasin-style slippers are perfect for long flights and hotel stays. If you’ve ever seen a news story about how disgusting germ-filled hotel rooms are, you will appreciate not having to walk around in your bare feet. Hard bottom slippers that cover your ankles are great for long plane rides to keep you warm and keep you comfortable when your ankles swell. Flip flops are also great, and very useful in public showers, pools, and saunas.

TSA approved locks – If you fly, take a bus or are otherwise around a lot of people, you will want to protect the contents of your luggage. TSA locks (with a little red and white diamond symbol) will allow security officials to open your luggage without breaking off the locks and ruining your bag.

Decongestants – If your ears and sinuses are clogged from a cold or allergies, you can easily blow an eardrum while flying. Trust me, I know the excruciating pain with ears that won’t pop while descending plane. Make these part of a small first aid kit that includes antibacterial cream, band-aids, anti-diarrheal meds, cold medicine, extra vitamin C, pain a pain releaver and allergy pills.

More travel tips:

  • Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off for going through airport security. This makes it much easier to deal with the stress of the situation and get you through quicker. (Crocs are great for this.)
  • Put all valuables in your carry-on & watch closely. Never pack valuables in checked luggage.
  • Consider wearing a money belt if you need to carry cash.
  • Forget about using traveler’s checks. They are hardly ever used anymore, especially outside the U.S. Instead, travel with a debit card, credit card and/or cash.
  • Make a copy of your passport and itinerary and store them separately from your actual documents. In your documents are then lost or stolen, you have the basic information to expedite replacements and allow you to continue your trip.
  • Be aware of taking certain products across borders. I was stopped by a cute little agricultural inspector beagle who busted me for an uneaten apple I forgot I had on a return trip from South America. (I saw another traveler’s mixed nuts confiscated on the other end, though they didn’t take mine.)
  • Research rules for various airports and countries. For example, while US airports allow you one carry-on plus a personal item like a purse or computer bag, London airports allow you to carry on only one piece total.
  • If you have kids, take snacks and toys to keep them occupied. I don’t have kids, but I have certainly traveled with them! There is nothing worse than an 8-hour flight with a screaming toddler and parents who came unprepared.


10 Packing Tips Every Traveler Should Know

Rick Steve’s Travel Tips

Learning to Lighten Your Load

Wiki How to Pack for a Trip

Royalty-free image created by Kolobkek and downloaded from stock.xchng.



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