Packing List: 3 Week Vacation

My passion is travel.  It’s both a vocation and an avocation.  That means that I love to travel whether I’m getting paid for it or if it’s just for fun.  And to me, travel is all about fun.

Rollerboard luggage I’ve got a 3-week European vacation coming up, and even though it’s still a couple months away, I’ve already starting organizing my packing list.  Starting this far out lets me compare what I need with what I have, giving me time to budget for any purchases that I may need to make.  Nothing like last minute desperation-shopping to put you way over budget with very poor decisions.

Although I’m not a backpacker (too old, too uncomfortable, too messy for my preferences), I still travel light enough that I carry my own bags.  Sometimes I’ll choose to check my roller bag, carrying on only one bag, but in a pinch I’m under the carry on size limits and can carry it on.

The secret to packing light?  Pack mix and match clothing that you can wear more than once, don’t take anything that you can’t wear in more than one way, and don’t pack more than one pair of shoes.

Here’s my packing list for a three week vacation:

  • Shorts (2 pair, black and khaki)
  • Long pants (2 pair, one black dressy slacks and one pair of convertible rip cloth for fast drying and wicking)
  • T-shirts (2 black, 2 white)
  • Shirts (2, one long sleeve, one short, to coordinate with black, white, khaki, and that can be worn as a jacket over a t-shirt or alone)
  • Shoes (a pair of walking shoes and flip flops for the pool; flip flops are the exception to the second pair of shoes rule)
  • Underwear (3 pair, I’ll hand wash in the sink)
  • Socks (2 pair, they’re fast drying so I can hand wash)
  • Swimsuit (our farmhouse has a pool)
  • Scarves (2, one for warmth the other for dressing things up)
  • Pajamas
  • Day bag (a small pack or messenger bag for picnics in the Italian countryside)

On the plane I’ll wear a loose flowing dress with a jacket or sweater (haven’t decided which yet), which I can dress up with the scarves or wear plain for a day of shopping or wine tasting.

If I was willing to do more than hand laundry (I’m not – I don’t want to waste a second of this precious time going to a Laundromat), I could eliminate several items.  I’m willing to carry the extra weight as a trade off to not having to do laundry.  Also, since we’ll be in Milan (Italy’s fashion capital), I’ve added a pair of dressy pants that are more appropriate to the dress code than the rest of my casual choices.  The above items will all pack into a 22-inch roller bag, along with toiletries, and will still be easy for me to carry and place in the overhead bin.

How do you pack for a long trip?  Do you take just enough?  Or are you a chronic over-packer?

Photo credit: SXC

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    • Sandy

      I spent years backpacking & I still travel a lot internationally.
      Unless it’s going to be really cold I always pack at least one skirt. They don’t take up much space but they are pretty and feminine and easily dressed up.
      A pashmina for the flight (doubles as an extra blanket at night).
      A sarong: great all purpose item (curtain, pool wrap, sun protection, etc). Also a sunhat.
      I rarely take jackets, but I wear it onto the plane if I do. Normally I pack a nice cashmere cardigan.
      Also: I never (ever) wear khaki. Hate the color. And I’m on vacation, so I don’t want to feel dull.
      It just shows how personal all this advice is.

    • Mary Jo Manzanares

      I always take a pashmina as well. Really necessary for an all-night flight!

      Packing is so personal, you’re right. I prefer to take a jackets (like a blazer or something) rather than a sweater. It’s just a little dressier for those times I want it to be — yet go just fine with jeans. And vacation is the only time I wear much khaki!

      I’d love to pack sarongs — but despite buying many of them over the years, I have never, ever figured out how to tie one properly.