packing for long trips

packing for long trips

This summer, I was tasked with the impossible.

OK, I’m being a little melodramatic, but who didn’t know that?

Anyway. I had to pack two suitcases, two carryons and two personal items with enough items to get Patrick and I through a 8-day Mediterranean / Southern European cruise, plus three days in Venice beforehand and three days in Athens afterwards.

Eek. This is what I was born for.

My tips for how to pack for a long trip:

1. Do your research ahead of time.

I did so much research leading up to our trip to Greece. The main sources of my research were:

  • Google, obviously
  • Pinterest
  • Friends and family

Crowdsourcing information from people who have gone to the same places as you or who have traveled more than you is one of the most valuable things you can do before going on a long trip – especially if you’re new to European travel, which I was. I’ve never even gone on a two-week vacation, before. I was a little out of my element.

So, I was Googling “things to pack for Greece” and “things to bring on a cruise” like crazy. I also used Pinterest to get ideas of the sorts of clothing styles that would be most appropriate for the countries we were visiting and the weather we were going to encounter. (It was hot, y’all.)

And if I hadn’t asked my friend Jordan, I wouldn’t have known to not wear a dress to the Acropolis. Important things, y’all.

2. Check the weather.

Please, please, please do not just go off of the “average heat for Greece” Google search you did a month before you leave for your trip.

If I had done that, I would’ve died.

Check the weather for each and every day of your trip. It may be excessively hotter in one location than another, or it may rain for four days straight during a period when it rarely rains. Obviously, you can’t be prepared for everything, but weather is one of those things you want to be prepared for.

3. Pick a color palette.

This might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever typed (so not true, I can be way more ridiculous) but it’s true: Pick two or three colors and stick to them.

This ensures that all of your clothes match and are cohesive and that you don’t end up halfway through your trip with a black tank top and brown shorts, you know? (Weird example, but I’m sticking with it.)

4. Match your packing list to your itinerary.

What I mean is this: Write your itinerary down. Then, make notes next to each day on your itinerary. Do you have dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant? Is it supposed to be cold or hot or sunny? Are you climbing a mountain? Are you going to the beach? Is it going to rain? Do you have to wear long pants and cover your shoulders?

Doing this in advance of our trip allowed me to identify how many nice dresses I would need for dinner on the cruise ship and how many pairs of longer pants or how many longer dresses I’d need for visiting churches. It also helps you identify, “Hey, I’m climbing a mountain and I wasn’t planning to bring any shoes appropriate for mountain climbing.”

(Or it would’ve helped me identify that, if any of our cruise excursions were a little more clear about the whole mountain thing.)

5. Keep all of your lists in the same place.

I will never stop preaching the benefits of Google Drive, but I recommend starting a Google Sheet and keeping all of your packing lists in sheet, using different columns of the spreadsheet to write them. It’s the tidiest way I can operate. If you’re the kind of person who writes your packing list down instead of making them digitally, keep them in one notebook, on one piece of paper or staple them together.

The reason I say this is because if you start one list, lose it and start another, you will start to miss things. Similarly, I like to have separate lists for me, Patrick, the dog, etc., and I like to keep them all in one place so things don’t get double-packed or skipped altogether.

My rule for packing lists is that I make a separate list for each separate container or bag I plan to bring. (So, a checked suitcase = 1 list, a carry-on suitcase = 1 list and a personal item = 1 list. I added on additional lists for toiletry bags and the like. Yes, I know. I’m something else.)

How to pack for long trips