NORDSTROM ANNIVERSARY SALE OPEN TO EVERYONE!! (Grab Bestsellers and Reader Faves Before They’re Gone!)  SHOP NOW

Support TFG by using the links in our articles to shop. We receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so we can continue to create helpful free content. We earn from qualifying purchases made to the featured retailers. Thank you, we appreciate your support!


From years of both long- and short-term travel, I’ve got my pre-trip checklist pretty well sorted out! Find out my updated step-by-step packing routine.


My Step-by-Step Pre-Trip Mental Checklist



Table Of Contents



Years ago, I published my pre-trip checklist, but after getting ready to head back to Playa Del Carmen for the Women’s Travel Fest, I knew it was time for an update.

So much of my pre-trip preparation process has changed since having a child, so these are the things I have to do before every trip:




I’m a big fan of jeans for travel because they don’t require much washing. Wearing Mother Jeans, Spanx Tee, and Veja Sneakers


3-7 Days Before


Start doing laundry. ALL of the laundry. Not only do I want to have enough time for my clothes to air dry, but I also tend to re-wear many of my items, so I want to have them available to pack.

Review my airline seats. Sometimes, better seats become available, so I switch them up if needed.


Check out a few airplane outfit ideas to feel relaxed but still look chic when traveling!  




One thing I’m packing a lot lately is the Athleta Brooklyn Heights Wide Leg Jumpsuit and Veja Sneakers!


1-3 Days Before


Organize the house. It’s easier to figure out what I need to pack when everything’s in its place. When the house is a mess, it feels like there’s more to do and more to pack than there really is.

Clean the house. There’s nothing better than returning to a nice, neat, CLEAN home after a trip.

Review my seats again. If there wasn’t better availability before then, I’ll try again. With my American Airlines Executive Status, I may be upgraded in advance, so I want to verify their seat selection and change it if needed.


Check out the best luggage brands for travel and why our readers love them!




The Monos Carry-On Plus became a fave in 2023; pictured at my beachfront ranch in El Salvador!


1 Day Before


Change the bed sheets. I’ll be tired when I get back and want to return to the linens I know are good to go so I can go to sleep after a long journey.

Replace all the used towels with clean towels, including the bath, hand, and kitchen towels. It’s one less thing to try to remember when I get back.

PACK. YES, I’m a last-minute packer. I really wish I wasn’t. But I usually pack the exact same things, so it’s not too much to figure out.

Wash my hair and style it. Waiting until the day to do my hair is risky, especially because I usually take 7 am to 8 am flights. I cross my fingers and hope it lasts overnight. I usually put it in a ponytail.

HOWEVER, if I was going on a big trip to a new destination or if I was going on a mixed-weather, multi-country trip, I’d begin planning ahead of time. I may add some new items to the mix, but after a decade of becoming a packing and travel wardrobe specialist, I usually know what I like and what works with what.


My everyday and travel wardrobe are one and the same! If you want more information about my favorite things, check out my roundups from 2023 and 2021.




From Maine to Greece, my trusty Madewell Jumpsuit has become one of my staples after I purchased it for my summer vacation to Europe in 2022! Paired here with my favorite sun hat.


If you need some more help with becoming a packing master, look at our Signature Packing Lists for Summer and Winter Capsule Wardrobe suggestions so you know what you need to plan for.

And if you want an ultimate cheat sheet, get the Packing Light Stylishly Ebook – it will give you the entire step-by-step process to preparing and planning your travel wardrobe!


Here are some common mistakes to avoid when traveling!




BAGSMART Toiletries Travel Bag


Toiletries and Beauty Products


Here’s a rundown of travel toiletries and beauty essentials to pack, including products that I use and readers recommend! If you’re trying to downsize your toiletries to fit them into a carry-on, readers highly suggest switching over some of your products to their solid versions!




HiBAR Shampoo and Conditioner Bar Set


  • Shampoo and/or dry shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face Wash
  • Razor and shaving cream




Oral-B White Pro 1000 Power Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush



Check out our list of the best toiletry bags for travel, which will be the best bag for you?




Shop Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 50: Amazon | ULTA





Dual Voltage Plavogue Styling Brush





Shop Makeup Eraser Pop The Bubbly: Nordstrom | Makeup Eraser





When it’s a chilly destination, I’ve come to love the ​AllSaints Ridley Wool-Cashmere Blend Sweater​, and pack it constantly! With H&M Jeans and Taos Plim Soul Lux Leather Sneakers




I actually prepare all my clothes first and leave my toiletries last. Most of the time, I pack my toiletries and makeup the morning before my flight, after I’ve gotten ready.

If I’m familiar with the destination where I’m going, then I just choose clothing based on past experiences. If I’m going to a new place, I’ll take a look at the Travel Fashion Girl Packing Lists for tips on my particular destination or ask the members of the TFG Community on our Facebook group for their advice.


Here are more of the steps I take to choose my clothing:

  • I check the extended weather report one more time before gathering my clothing.
  • I select my go-to pieces that I use for travel, and then add any other pieces I think would work for the trip.
  • I select shoes that will work well for my destination and the activities I have planned and that will also look good with all of my outfits.
  • Next, I start trying on the clothes to see what works well together and take pictures of my outfits to double-check the camera’s opinion.
  • Based on the outfits I’ve created, I mentally go through all the activities I have planned to ensure there’s an outfit for each one.
  • I head over to the notes on my phone and write down a quick list of which items to use for each activity.
  • Once I’ve narrowed down the best outfits, it’s easy to determine the items I won’t need to bring. I don’t ever feel that I’m sacrificing anything by using this tactic!
  • I count the items that I have left, hoping to have no more than ten, but I’m satisfied if I have less than twelve. This helps me avoid overpacking. I usually find that I have way more than enough outfits by choosing pieces that coordinate with each other.
  • If my procrastination hasn’t left me too short on time, I take a couple of pictures to share with the TFG Facebook Group or future blog posts.


This is our essential list of the best travel clothing brands for women!




If I’m going somewhere hot, I discovered the Columbia Maxi Freezer Dress for its UPF and moisture-wicking properties–adore it!


The last steps include packing ten travel underwear and two or three bras (one nude, one black) that will match the clothing I’ve picked.

I always throw in a bathing suit even if I’m not going to the beach – you never know! I also add one pair of workout/hiking clothes that can double as pajamas if I don’t work out (I usually don’t while traveling), and then I choose two additional pieces for my pajamas.

Lastly, I determine the jewelry and accessories I’ll bring on the trip. I’m very minimalist, so they’re usually the same few items I wear all the time.

If you’re shopping for new travel staples, these brands with free shipping and returns make it easy!


The secret to traveling light is to create a functional but minimalist capsule wardrobe. Learn more in my guide!




Compass Rose International Travel Adapter




If I’m traveling less than a week or going on a non-blogging vacation, then I can leave the laptop and corresponding gear at home and bring an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard or just my phone. If I’m working, I also bring my daily planner and a notebook.


These are the techy essentials I pack.




Anker Portable Battery Pack



Read this easy guide between travel adaptors, converters, and voltage conversion!




Compass Rose Carryon Packing Cubes


Packing Organizers


Now that I know all the items I plan to bring, it’s time to rummage through my packing organizers and choose the best options. Not all trips are the same, so you may need different packing organizers each time. Not sure which ones are the best? Read this guide!

Overall, I definitely organize all my clothing with the Compass Rose carryon packing cubes. They are the only packing cubes on the market that are numbered and color coded, so I can pack accordingly. In fact, we did a 5-part video series on how to organize according to this system.




Compass Rose Digital Luggage Scale


Not many people are familiar with luggage scales, but they’re incredibly helpful when you’re a frequent traveler.

We recommend bringing along a lightweight luggage scale to weigh your cases before going to the airport. This will ensure you are below the weight limit and avoid extra charges.

With a compact luggage scale in hand, you’ll never have to worry about excess baggage fees!




BAGSMART Electronic Organizer


Here’s an example of the different kinds of organizers, pouches, and cases I select:

  • Shoe bag or gallon-size Ziploc for shoes
  • Toiletry bag for toiletries
  • Cord organizer for small electronics
  • Clear pouch for daily essentials / in-flight essentials
  • Travel cosmetic bag


Now it’s finally time to pack all my items in the organizers and then eventually into the suitcase! This process is relatively fast since I now know exactly what I need.


Packing cubes are the key to minimalist travel! Learn more about how to use them to travel carryon only!




Bose QuietComfort Ultra Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds


In-flight Essentials


These items are part of my in-flight essentials, but depending on the destination, I might also use some of these as daily essentials in my purse!




Face Shadow Double Glasses Case





Bombas Everyday Compression Socks


  • Compression socks
  • Pain killers/allergy pills/Alka Seltzer
  • Tissue pack
  • Pen
  • Hair ties and clips
  • Hand lotion


What do you carry in your day bag while traveling? Read this to find out!




A pick for 2022, I still love my Away The Carry On Suitcase. With the Lo & Sons O.G. 2.0 pictured here!


Luggage and Personal Item


The last step in packing is to actually get everything inside your suitcase and bags! Since I still need to use certain items the day of the trip, such as my toothbrush, makeup, and electronics I wait to pack these the day of.

Read this guide on how to choose the right luggage for your trip. Also, check out these reader-recommended luggage brands with lifetime guarantees!

If you’re going with a carry on, you can choose between a hardside or softside (read about the pros and cons of hardside and softside luggage here).




The Samsonite Omni 2 Luggage Set (20’/24”/28”) is super popular, I’ve been using the 24” to pack mine and Jade’s things for multiple trips!


If you’re flying on an international flight, these are the best international carry ons that’ll satisfy the size requirements yet still offer plenty of packing space!

You can keep things extra light with one of these lightweight suitcases.

If you plan on using checked luggage, you might want to consider purchasing a luggage set that’ll give you different options for every trip you take!

And if you do check a bag, readers highly suggest throwing a luggage tracker inside for peace of mind!




I was impressed with the economically-friendly Target Signature Commuter Backpack!


You’ll also need to bring a great personal item bag. Find out what exactly a personal item is and check out some reader favorites in this article! And often your personal item can also become your day/sightseeing bag.


Here are more great personal item or day bag options:


If you need help to stop overpacking, read this–it’s the step-by-step solution that walks you through my entire packing process.


Do you have any tips to add to my packing checklist? Please comment below!


To learn more about my personal packing, read these posts:






I hope you liked this post on my step-by-step packing routine. Please share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!