There are few things in life as exciting as the prospect of an upcoming trip. But that might not be how everyone sees travel—some dread the details, get nervous about logistics and wish they could simply teleport to their destination.
One way to take some of the stress off is to pack well. With these following tips, you’ll have one less thing to worry about as you embark upon your journey.
Think about the purpose of your trip
Obviously, your attire for a business trip will differ drastically from what you might wear on a family beach vacation. If you use the purpose of your trip as the starting point, it will guide the essentials of what you pack, and as long as you have those essentials, you’ll be good. With the purpose of your trip at the center of what you pack, you can then start building out your next layer of items. Maybe you will be able to squeeze in a workout on a business trip, so you’ll need some gym clothes. Perhaps you hope to have a nice dinner on your beach vacation, so in addition to a bathing suit, you want to include a dress or suit jacket. The last and final layer of what you pack will be the “bonus layer” for any extra, not needed but still nice to have items, if you happen to have room left in your suitcase after you’ve covered all necessary scenarios.
Count the length (in days) of your trip
It might seem obvious, but if you’re traveling for 10 days, you are going to want 10 pairs of underwear, 10 pairs of socks and 10 Q-tips. Keep the duration of your trip in the back of your head at all times. When you have all of your clothes and toiletries laid out, run through your calendar day-by-day to make sure you’ve got something for each.
Look ahead at the weather!
Don’t assume because you’re headed to California, it’s going to be sunny and 80 degrees. For instance, Northern California’s climate is MUCH different than that of San Diego or Los Angeles. The biggest disservice you can do is not take a glance at a weather forecast. Nothing can spoil a trip like rain and no rain boots.
Invest in a toiletry bag or carrying case
To make sure all of your needed toiletries are in one place, it helps to have a trusted toiletry bag to hold everything. One quick glance in the bag can tell you if you forgot deodorant or your toothbrush. If you’re checking a bag, keep your toiletries in the luggage you’re bringing on the plane. If you get stranded, delayed or your luggage gets lost, at least you’ll ensure you have what you need for your personal hygiene. Also, a pro tip: when you stay in a hotel, take an extra shampoo, conditioner or soap home with you. This way, you can keep a small supply of travel-sized goods in your home (for free!) that you can bring with you when you go on trips that don’t involve hotels or complimentary personal care items.
Pack versatile pieces
Solid-colored pants or skirts are great because you can wear them with a professional top for the workday, then simply switch tops and shoes to transition to the evening. Pieces you can mix and match are perfect for the trips that combine business with pleasure. A scarf can double as a blanket on a plane; wear your running sneakers for comfort through the airport and then you’ll have them with you if you decide to go on a hike. And remember, for trips with family and friends, most people will not care if you repeat outfits!
Most importantly, don’t sweat the small stuff. Unless you’re going to a very remote destination, most things you forget can always be purchased in a pinch. Bon voyage!
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).