10 STEPS TO AVOID OVERPACKING
To help simplify the packing process, we’ve created this 10 step packing guide to avoid overpacking. Make this your first stop
when planning your next trip. And don’t forget to download your free packing checklist!
I’m a Chronic Overpacker and Don’t Know How to Travel Carryon Only?
First, thing’s first: don’t stress. Packing isn’t easy. Whether you’re going away for a weekend or a year long trip with a bit of time, planning, and careful product selection you can pack well for any trip. We’ve put together all the best tips from the entire blog so you can easily access everything in one easy location. Follow these tips that can help you if you want to travel carry-on only or if you simply want to choose the best options for your destination in a regular size suitcase:
To master the art of packing light, you’ll need a capsule wardrobe that is an essential concept to understand in order to create a minimal yet highly functional (and fashionable) travel wardrobe. Read this packing ebook to help you create the perfect travel wardrobe for your trip.
If you feel extremely overwhelmed at the idea of packing light or have a complicated itinerary, review this packing course which shows you specific techniques to plan around limited clothing choices, varying climates, and other unexpected life situations.
Check weather.com’s extended forecast in advance and 3 days before you leave. Think about how many days you will be in warm vs cold weather.
If you have a 10 day trip and will be spending 7 days in the cold and 3 days in warm weather, plan for 70% of your travel wardrobe to be for the cold and 30% to be for the heat.
If you are only spending a short amount of time in cold weather or if you’re unsure if you will encounter cold weather on your trip, pack only the essentials: two outerwear PLUS two additional items: long sleeve top and leggings.
Use any of our International packing lists to find clothing ideas to dress appropriately for your destination then use the guidelines from TFG’s Signature Packing Lists to help you customize your travel wardrobe.
If you don’t see your destination listed, post a question on TFG’s Facebook Group.
Depending where you’re traveling, you might encounter cold weather even in the summer. Always check the weather for your countries to get the most accurate idea about what to pack.
Because many people visit multiple destinations, it’s very common to experience mixed weather on your trip any time of the year. Or if you’re traveling somewhere like the UK in summer, you might experience all four seasons on the same day!
The key to packing for multi-season trips is to pack a travel wardrobe that coordinates so you can layer as needed. Review this Round the World Packing List and this Travel Wardrobe for Mixed Weather for an interchangeable capsule wardrobe that will take you from cold to hot with ease.
For tips on choosing clothing and shoes for trips with different types of weather, please read this packing guide.
I’ve created this easy three part guide on how to pack for cold weather to help you stay warm while packing light.
Knowing how to pack for cold weather travel can be quite daunting especially if you want to pack light. If you’re traveling in winter, bundle up!
There is one major difference between being at home in the winter and traveling when it’s cold: the amount of time you’ll spend outdoors. When you’re traveling, you’ll likely spend extended periods of time outdoors sightseeing. Don’t be unprepared. Consider layering lightweight clothing such as the ones featured in this winter packing list to minimize the need for bulky sweaters and coats.
You can even wear leggings or tights under jeans or pants for extra warmth. If you’re not used to the climate, add additional layers until you feel warm. Don’t forget essential winter accessories like a scarf, hat, and gloves!
Picking the best shoes for travel will be one of your biggest challenges so start by reading this 10 step guide to packing the best travel shoes for any trip.
Choosing the right shoes for a trip is challenging but it’s not impossible. The main thing to remember is that comfort is king – you can’t enjoy your trip to the fullest extent if you’re in pain and can’t walk. While the ideal shoes will be both comfortable and fashionable, style will have to take a back seat if it means you can’t wear a pair of shoes for hours at a time.
Bring no more than three pairs opting for shoes that match all your clothing. Pack one pair for sightseeing (walking), one pair of any special activities you have planned, and then a third pair to either dress up your outfits or one that’s appropriate for a change in weather.
These are the best shoes for sightseeing in the cold and these are the best shoes for sightseeing in the heat. Black ankle boots like these are the most recommended shoes when dealing with either cold or mixed weather.
Please note: ballet flats are a popular travel shoe option when you want a dressier look but they are NOT recommended for long hours on your feet sightseeing.
Choose one of these cute and comfortable walking shoes instead – they’re the options most recommended by our readers!
It’s important to note that people in any country generally wear the same things that everyone else does around the world – the only difference is HOW they wear them. People value simplicity, clean styling, and a good tailored fit above anything else.
In general, day-to-day European style is more dressy than American style. This DOES NOT mean business clothing. Think dressy top (or the type of top you’d wear to work) plus nice jeans (dark colors are always a good choice).
Read this ultimate Packing List for Europe, which is a five part guide offering general packing information for Europe along with what to wear in spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
Southeast Asia is an interesting place in the sense that cultural considerations in most countries encourage residents (and visitors) to wear modest attire but some times you will see locals wearing shorts, dresses, and other clothing that doesn’t seem to follow this ideal.
You’ll 100% need to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting temples in all countries, but you don’t necessarily have to do this when you visit other places unless you’re in a Muslim country such as Malaysia or Indonesia.
Read these tips about choosing clothing for conservative countries.
In any destination, remember to pack for the environment. Are you spending your time café crawling in the cities or getting lost in the wilderness? As with most destinations, practical sense applies. Leave the beachwear on the beach because it doesn’t translate well to streetwear in the city.
The same goes for gym wear; unless you’re actually headed to the gym, don’t dress in your gym attire.
One of the most important aspects about packing efficiently is using luggage organizers.
Watch this packing video to learn how to use packing cubes to maximize space and never check a bag again. These are the top 12 reasons why I prefer packing cubes to other organizers. We recommend these packing cubes – they’re ours!
Start with luggage. If you don’t already own a suitcase, choose one wisely. Read these tips on how to pick a suitcase and consider one of these top brands. Make your life easy with our best suitcase recommendations.
Use packing organizers. Do you want to know the ultimate tool to travel in a carryon? PACKING CUBES! They changed everything for me and thousands of other travelers. See my packing tutorial on how to use them! Trust me, they are a must!
Use tried and tested packing strategies. For a summary, read our top 75 packing tips.
I’ve recently taken on a few extreme packing challenges to show you that packing carry-on only is possible for any trip. If I can pack like an ultra-minimalist (with style of course) then you can pack more comfortably in a regular carry-on. Watch these packing videos to learn more:
Watch all my packing videos here!
The biggest mistake travelers make with toiletries is not considering how much product they actually use. There are five key steps when it comes to downsizing your toiletries properly for a trip:
- Find combination items. You can find two-in-one shampoos and conditioners, body cleanser that can double as shave gel, a foldable brush with a mirror attached on the handle, and multi-use makeup products.
- Purchase empty containers of various shapes and sizes and DO NOT default to choosing “travel size 100ml or 3oz” options. These are the best travel containers.
- Stick to the basics. Simplify your skincare and pampering routine and bring a capsule makeup collection. It’s only temporary.
- Replace liquid beauty products with solids. While solid toiletries may not help you downsize they will help you meet the carryon 3-1-1 liquids rule.
- Choose the right toiletry bag. These are the best toiletry bags and these are the best hanging toiletry bags.
For useful tips such as downsizing toiletries and choosing the best travel makeup, read our Ultimate Guide to Packing Toiletries. It includes a free printable checklist!
Don’t forget about safety: Be cautious about where you stash your cash. The safest place for your passport is locked in your accommodation. Carry a photocopy or other ID when you’re sightseeing or are out at night.
Keep your valuables safe with these anti-theft products:
- Money Belts and Anti-theft Accessories
- Best Anti-theft Bags for Women
- Are these Safe Travel Items Worth Taking
- 10 Tried and Tested Tips to Avoid Theft While Traveling
Read these tips on how to keep your passport safe when you travel!
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BONUS SECTION: TRAVEL TIPS
I prefer to to book “the entire home” instead of opting for shared accommodation on Airbnb. Aside from safety, I also like to feel like I’m living in the destination. It’s a small taste of local life plus you get more amenities than you would at a hotel such as a kitchen and washing machine.
Read these Airbnb tips for more info!
To maximize your vacation time, fly into the city where you’re starting your trip and out of the city where your trip ends. Many times it’s the same price and saves you from having to spend extra time and money to go back to where you started your trip.
For hostels, we recommend Hostelworld and Hostelbookers. Always read the reviews before booking to get the best idea if the hostel is right for you. Some are quiet and family friendly while others are known for their party atmosphere.
As a personal tip, if you’re backpacking, instead of booking all your nights in advance, maybe just book one or two so you can first get a feel for the place without overcommitting. Of course, should you be traveling during a special event or holiday, book in advance.
Not sure about staying at a hostel? Read this.
For travel, I recommend Travel Guard, which saved me over $800 in hospital bills on my round-the-world trip. As a scuba diver, I also recommend using DAN, which helped me rearrange my and my husband’s flights at no extra cost when we had a dive incident.
Tours are a great way to travel if you’re not ready to travel alone. A few top choices include G Adventures or Intrepid Travel. While I haven’t traveled through Europe with G Adventures, I did go to South America and Africa with them as a new traveler in 2008 and enjoyed my experiences!
For Europe tours, New Europe has excellent tours and the best part? They’re free! All you have to do is tip your guide.
In Rome, I did a City Tour and a VIP Vatican Tour with Roman Guy tours. Not only were there were only 3 people on my Vatican tour versus the groups of 25-50 around us but my guide Nina was a local fashionista. I also got to skip the massive lines and enter the Vatican one hour before the public!
More 10 Step Packing Guides:
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