Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Vacation Packing Part Three: My International Travel Packing List

This is my third post about packing for vacation travel. My first one, Vacation Packing Part One: Figuring Out What to Pack, covers that onerous task of deciding what you'll need to take on your trip. The second one, Vacation Packing Part Two: Choosing a Bag, ... talks about choosing a bag, organizing yourself before the trip and how to roll your clothes to organize and maximize space in your bag.

In this post I'll tell you what I pack and anything I use to help make it work.

Here's my preferred bag. If you dislike bright colors please just look past that to what it is.

20"x11"x7" and weighs less than a pound
It's a Fairtrade bag from Africa and probably wouldn't hold up if I traveled every month. It certainly wouldn't do well if checked; however, it has worked well for vacations and weekends away. I like it because not only is it a good size, it's a back pack, and it is more vertical and thin than most. This means it fits in those sizing frames at the airport and the weight is evenly distributed instead of bottom heavy. It's very close in size to a roller bag, but because it doesn't have the wheel frame and it not only weighs ounces instead of pounds, it also holds more than a roller bag. Believe me, I've tested it.

Souvenirs: If you're traveling in your home country, you can make use of the local post office to send things home. I have found that it's often cheaper than checking a bag AND when you get the package in the mail at home it's like Christmas. If you're traveling internationally I suggest packing an empty duffel bag that you can check. That way it doesn't cost you on the way there, only on the way back. If you have purchased something fragile, put the dirty clothes in the checked duffel and the souvenir in your carry on.

What's on my International packing list? I'll list every thing but remember, I always adjust it according to my destination. So, the list is edited according to my plans and the weather. Remember, your list will be different in some ways because your needs are different.

I use a list app called Paperless. I've used it to create a check list of the things I have packed on trips over the years. When I need to create a packing list for a new trip I can quickly go through the checked items and uncheck what I will need. As I pack, I check things off and they move to the bottom. It's a list I can use over and over again.

General clothing: How many of each item I take depends on how many days we'll travel. I try to take enough to get me through several days with one or more laundry days. For example: For a trip of 10 days I'll probably take 5-6 outfits and do laundry once. I have done trips of that length with fewer outfits and an added laundry day, but it can be inconvenient depending on the circumstances. I take quick dry fabrics for everything rather than cotton since they dry faster and weigh less.

• socks
• underwear (Hanes Cool Comfort Microfiber for Women)
• warm layers: sweater (Something less bulky than sheep's wool and just as warm such as fleece, alpaca, silk, angora, or cashmere), long johns (Hot Chillys brand is great.)
• travel pants (No jeans for me. I like lightweight and preferably wrinkle free.)
• shirts (REI, Eddie Bauer, and Royal Robbins are my favorite brands)
• shoes: I always take two pairs so I can switch out and give my feet a rest. Since we walk a lot they have to be good walking shoes weather they're sandals or athletic shoes. NO high heels since they're practically useless for traveling for pleasure. Even for business I wear attractive but comfortable dressy shoes that are kind to my feet.

Outerwear:
• A wrap: It's an all purpose accessory for the ladies. A scarf with a coat, a wrap for warmth, a way to dress up a more casual outfit, a head covering for cross-cultural situations that demand it...
• Cold weather: gloves, packable jacket, ankle warmers (short leg warmers), warm hat
• Warm weather: packable sun hat (My favorite is the Casual Traveler from Wallaroo Hat Company and has been all over the world with me), packable rain coat
• Appropriate footwear: warm walking shoes or boots, hiking shoes, walking sandals (I love my Tevas), lightweight walking shoe, whatever works best for your needs.

Toiletries 3-1-1 bag: I own a good quality 3-1-1 bag that I use over and over. I've also gathered the small sample sizes of items from hotels, emptied them, and refilled with my preferred products. These are generally smaller than the bottles you can get for this at drug stores or travel stores. I suggest filling bottles you have with product and use them at home for the same number of days you'll be traveling. This will help you figure out exactly how much of each you'll need and how small your bottles can be. I think you'll be surprised at how small you can go and how much space you'll save. Of course, if you're staying at a hotel that provides such things, you can used theirs instead of bringing your own.

• approved 3-1-1 bag
• shampoo
• face soap
• lotion
• toothpaste
• toner
• acne cream
• moisturizer
• sun screen
Ladies, consider make up options that don't have to go in your 3-1-1 bag. For instance, you might want to change to powdered products in place of liquid or cream versions.
Men, consider using a shaving soap bar and a brush instead of shaving cream or oils.

Toiletries Bag:
• comb
• toothbrush
• razor
• q-tips
• cotton balls
• powdered foundation and brush
• disposable face cloths with soap in them
• powder make up
• mascara
• lip salve
• tweezers
• soap slivers for hand washing when no restroom is available
• flat water bottle (I have an old Platypus that is flat when empty.)

Things for our health: My husband has a knack for catching a cold on vacation and so I always pack our tried and true treatments. It's also good to be prepared for a headache or the occasional small owie.
• 100% ginger tea bags (Traditional Medicinals)
• sugar free cough lozenges (Ricola)
• zink lozenges (Cold-Eeze)
• band-aids
• pain medication

Other stuff
• Journal kit (journal, pen, tape, eraser, pencil...)
• iPhone, cord, and plug
• wallet
• day bag/purse
• passport and photo copies (stored separately)
• plug convertor
• paperback book
• sunglasses
• toiletries
• basic jewelry (Don't take anything too flashy or valuable. You might even consider wearing a substitute wedding ring.)
• individual packs of powdered laundry detergent
• camping clothesline
• micro-cloth washcloth/hand towel
• printed copies of reservations and other papers

Hopefully these three posts will help you the next time you're anticipating a trip. If you think through it before hand, you're stress levels as you head out on your trip will be a lot lower making your travel experience so much more wonderful.