I just got back from my first big trip this summer! Our family traveled ten days in Portugal and fit in the little island of Madeira as well. I spent a lot of time planning and packing for this trip and I cannot wait to share all my handy tips with you. I’m going to help you pack for the big trip using all of my firsthand knowledge. This way, you can learn from my mistakes and lessons learned for your own travel adventures. I will guarantee that there will be surprises along the way that all the planning in the world will not help you avoid. It’s important to stay flexible and go with the flow! My mantra is to prepare for the things you can, so that you can handle all these fun surprises along the way.
Planning in Advance
If you are traveling with your family, put everyone on the same itinerary. I know that sounds basic but in some cases, you may be extending a business trip where the parents are on one itinerary and the kids are on another. Do your best to get your kids on the same itinerary regardless of the hassle. Why may you ask? Because when a flight is canceled, it’s much easier for the airline, American Express or a travel agent to help you when it’s one itinerary versus two. And in many cases, other families are trying to do the same thing which puts you at a disadvantage if you’ve got two itineraries. Speaking from this last experience, it’s worth the hassle! In our situation, one of the options was having our kids on a different flight! No thank you!
Consider the weather but, more importantly, consider it can be wrong. In my case, I need to prepare for the cold when the forecast is sunny. Almost every extended trip I have been on, I’ve had to purchase a jacket or coat —and that was not deliberate:) These are items I’ve had to buy at the gift shop for much more than I would have paid anywhere else on the planet. And it’s not something I really wanted as they are still hanging in my closet. What a bummer!
Tiles are my favorite new find! I love these little things! I have one in my wallet and one on my keychain and one in my luggage! If the Tile moves, the Tile app notifies me. Basically, you can track any item if it’s lost. My fear while traveling is losing a wallet or a wallet with my passport in it. If you keep a Tile in it, you can track its location! You can also share your Tile info with your husband or anyone else so if you’ve also managed to lose your phone too. Check it out here.
Luggage is so, so important and can really make a difference in your travel experience. Choose the right kind of luggage before your trip and really think about all the different ways you will be using these bags. I’m not just talking about what gets you through the airport but what works best for you for the duration of the trip. Think backpacks, crossbody bags or anything else that is used to carry what you may want to bring with you on your daily adventures. Be sure to keep up with it with those handy Tiles.
Ok, I’m the first to admit that I thought this was a bunch of hoopla! I thought packing cubes looked so neat and cute but didn’t think they could really save space. Well, I’m here to tell you that I was wrong! I’m buying more of these little space savers:) The idea is to pack similar items in each cube and fold it in such a way that it fits the cube. They fill a lot and you can overfill it. When you get to your destination you can live out of these bags as well. In addition, if you overpack and have to spread things out at the airport, (YES, I’ve done this many times), you don’t have to expose all your stuff to the world shifting it from one bag to the other, all while being afraid your undies are going to fall out! You just pull out a cube and shift your items around until the weight is right and then you can be on your way!
What to Pack
When I travel, I think more along the lines of comfort rather than fashion. Don’t get me wrong, I add some fashion flair but I’m more on the safe side, especially in a different country. This way I’m appropriate, conservative and comfortable. I also stick to a neutral wardrobe with the exception of accessories so I can mix and match my clothes.
1. Choose your clothing color scheme.
Tip: If you choose neutral colors that layer, you can mix and match and won’t need to pack as much!
2. Pack a comfortable pair of shoes or boots.
I purchased a Mephisto boot that could be worn with dresses or jeans. I also packed an Ecco Sneaker that was super comfy for all the cobblestone streets.
3. Statement pieces usually get one wear when traveling, so choose wisely.
Stick to your neutral clothing palette and save the statements for something smaller, like jewelry.
4. Pack clothes that can be layered.
You’ll be comfortable in any kind of weather and we all know that weather is unpredictable.
5. Bring a raincoat and a down coat/vest.
Down is great for 60-degree weather or 30-degree weather. Both of these items can be squished down to fit in luggage or a backpack.
6. Bring athletic wear if you are going to be doing athletic activities.
Choose black so if you get in a bind, you can wear it over and over again.
7. Bring a great crossbody bag.
It stays put and is a deterrent against thieves.
Here are some of my tips put into action:
These are examples of dressing in layers, bringing a pair of comfy shoes,bringing a down vest, having a great crossbody bag and keeping a neutral color scheme. My white button-down blouse works great on any trip. You can wear a camisole under it (like me) or nothing at all. This button-down has a hi-lo hemline so you can create warmth with an extra layer or catch a cool breeze by not layering. And if you get really cold, add a vest. Another feature I like about this shirt is that you can roll the sleeves up and they stay put because they have buttons. My shoes are handling this cobblestone street with ease. Notice that though what I’m wearing is pretty plain, I’ve spiced it up with my red crossbody and some cute jewelry.
Now the fun part! Enjoy your trip! Take it all in and make those memories! Remember when packing, choose neutral colors, pack for the unexpected weather and remember to layer so you’re prepared for any kind of weather. The new things I tried during this trip included the tiles, packing cubes, crossbody bag and neutral colored clothes (for the most part). I wore almost everything I packed more than once and was thrilled not to have to purchase a coat that I’ll never wear again:) The things I could have left behind included heels, brown booties, sandals and a bathing suit. If you’ve got some packing tips that you would like to share, please post them. I love to hear from my readers!
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