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. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on Amazon in addition to other retailers featured on the blog. Thank you, we appreciate your support!
How soon is too soon to pack for your trip? Do you pack months in advance or the day before your trip? Read these tips to find out why you should start preparing for your travels as soon as you book your trip!
When to Pack for A Trip
It’s never too soon to start planning for a trip but the amount of time you spend packing can vary. Many people will wait until the last minute to pack their belongings in their suitcase but others might have their items stored away for months. So what’s normal?
Regardless of whether you wait to pack 15 minutes or 15 days before departure, the important thing is your preparation time.
Allow as much time as possible so you have plenty of time to gather everything you’ll need to bring on your trip. As soon as you book a trip create a checklist jotting down general items you’ll need such as:
At first you won’t have all the details but it’s good to note the main items you need. Depending on your activities you’ll also need to include specialty gear such as camping equipment, road trip essentials, and other items.
Now don’t confuse your initial checklist with a packing list. Start with something general and as you go through the steps below you can create a packing list with the exact items you’ll want to bring on your trip.
Start researching as soon as you know you want to travel to a specific destination. Get an idea about what type of weather you’ll encounter, special gear you’ll need, and appropriate clothes to wear.
Allowing ample time to plan gives you the opportunity to take advantage of discounts on seasonal merchandise, time to try on various types of clothing and shoes, and also helps give you peace of mind as your trip gets closer.
Room for Error (or Others)
When you allow plenty of time to pack in advance you allow room for error. You have time to fine tune your outfits, leave out unnecessary items, and also help other pack for their trips.
Not all of us are solo travelers. We travel with our partners, families, and friends and it’s challenging when we pack light but our companions don’t.
When my friend and I traveled to Europe together she massively overpacked and I ended up carrying her luggage because she fell ill. I was upset with myself for not giving her some packing tips (even though this was several years before I created TFG).
I wish I would’ve gently suggested some tips. It would’ve made both of our lives much easier.
While not all travel companions appreciate our packing help (our partners in particular) if you travel with children then you also need to prepare them for the trip.
Click here to access the editable Google Doc printable checklist that corresponds to this article. You can also download the print-friendly, PDF version here.
Delsey Luggage Helium Aero,Carry On Luggage
Another reason why you should start planning far in advance is so that you have plenty of time to choose your luggage. An adventurous overland trip across Africa requires different luggage than a business trip to Europe.
First and foremost, consider the type of travel you will be undertaking: will you be checking your bags, dealing with difficult terrain, or is your travel for business purposes?
If a suitcase makes sense for your trip, these are the factors you should consider when choosing a suitcase:
Read our step-by-step guides on how to choose a suitcase and how to choose a travel backpack!
Not one suitcase works for all your trips and if you’re planning to get “off the beaten path” then you might prefer a travel backpack instead! Some remote locations like these are easier to travel without wheels. Read this post if you’re unsure whether to use a backpack or wheeled luggage.
Next, I highly recommend you consider using packing organizers like these to help you travel efficiently. But just like luggage, each type offers different benefits. Learn how to choose the best luggage organizer !
If your goal is to downsize your luggage and even travel carryon only, items such as packing cubes not only help you organize they help you compress, too. Why is this a good thing? It means you can pack more stuff in less space!
Watch this video to learn how to use packing cubes to travel carryon only!
Watch the packing tutorial on Youtube!
In 2017, I launched Compass Rose Travel Accessories and my very first product was a 4-Piece Set of Carryon Packing Cubes. These are the only packing cubes sized to fit the exact width of a carryon suitcase and they also have a unique color-coded and numbered organization system – the only kind currently available anywhere on the market.
I put together a five-part YouTube series showing you the different methods to use packing cubes. If you use this specific packing strategy, they can also compress your belongings. This is the secret to traveling carryon only!
Buy Compass Rose Packing Cubes here!
Ultimately, the better prepared you are the more positive experience you’ll have. Which brings us to the next point…
One of my biggest travel fashion fails is being absolutely clueless about what locals wore in places like New Zealand and what travelers wore in other destinations such as Thailand.
Know before you go!
You can find information for specific destinations on Travel Fashion Girl. You’ll find the regions listed here or you can use these quick links:
As you start researching your destination you’ll get a better idea of what clothing you should and shouldn’t bring. This is the biggest reason why you want to start planning for your trip far in advance.
You wouldn’t want to show up to South Africa in shorts and sandals in winter or wear this type of outfit in modest India. It’s important to be prepared both for the weather and cultural sensitivities.
The good news is that unless you’re planning an outdoor adventure your regular clothing should work on most trips. However, if you do need to buy any extras then it’s helpful if you don’t wait to plan for last minute. Remember, packing is one thing but planning is another.
Take a look at these sample packing lists for inspiration on how to create the travel wardrobe that’s right for you.
There’s no better way to find out exactly what you need for your trip than by asking travelers that have already been there. The free Travel Fashion Girls Group on Facebook is an incredible community of women that love to help each other.
You can post all your packing questions in this group and expect several (if not dozens) of replies from travelers that have already been to where you’re going.
Remember, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed at the idea of packing for a trip to the unknown. We’ve all been there and we’re all here to help.
That’s what Travel Fashion Girl is all about! Thousands of other women sharing their best tips, tricks, and cheering you on.
Please take a second to leave a comment and let me know what’s been your favorite TFG find so far, or what else you’d like to see on the site!
How far in advance do you pack for a trip? Share and comment below!
For more packing tips, please read:
- 10 Step Packing Guide to Stop Overpacking
- 10 Step Guide to Packing for Any Trip
- How to Save Space in a Suitcase: 5 Simple Ideas
- Learn the Secret to Packing Light in 60 Minutes
LIKED THIS POST? PIN THIS PIC TO SAVE IT!
Great tips. I use an app (Closet) to create a packing list from my favorite outfits. I can start making the list as soon as we know we are going. I can see exactly what is needed to add in if necessary. Since many of our trips include multiple places / multiple climates I may create more than on packing list with as much as possible overlap. I then use packing cubes to isolate those things not needed at the next location.
Yay, thanks Cathy, so glad you found the article useful!! Thank you for sharing your recommendation of closet, awesome way to create a packing list!! 🙂
look for a laundry facility. ask if your hotel has one or is there near by. after many year’s of visiting family we never used their washer/dryer. this last time we did and it saved us. take a mesh bag to put your dirty clothing in.
Hi Sara, this is great advice, thank you for sharing your travel tip with us!! 🙂
I start thinking at least 1 month before. I create one outfit (sometimes wear it), make some changes. Take pictures! Than create a directory Trip to… One week before the trip I start organize the clothes, I my home become a mess (LOL) because I take them for the closet and star to make loads of clothes… 2 days before the trip everything will be organized in pack cubes, and I really get (even if stay foir than that) clothes for 7 days.
Hi Cristina, thank you for sharing your packing experiences with me, this is fantastic!! 🙂
I start planning my packing at least a month in advance and actually pack a week before. This way I can plan what I’m taking, make sure that everything I want is clean, mended (If needed) and available. There’s nothing worse than the night before running around packing only to find something doesn’t fit or is dirty.
I tend to start packing about a week in advance. It gives me time to add things as I think of them and also to rethink my choices and remove items.
Thanks for the comment Kim! We are glad you’ve found a method that works for you! Enjoy your travels!
Cruising Canary Islands in 6 weeks time to celebrate 50th Birthday. Clothes more or less sorted with everything I might want to take washed and ironed. Have learnt so much from TFG, my colour scheme is black, white and coral. I even bought a mannequin to put outfits together then take a photo. Worked brilliantly even though people thought I was mad. Accessories & jewellery sorted with earrings in a pill box. I’ve printed Fab Sugar outfit planner which is 2/3 completed and all TFG advice should stop me from over packing. I also use a storage bag or box to collect any other items I might want to take.
That’s awesome Rhonda! So glad we’ve been able to help you plan out your packing for your travels! Enjoy your trip!