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How To Pack Like A Seasoned Traveler

Spring Break: a well-deserved and very much needed break for all. However, it’s often an awkward period of time; a week is long enough to get a break, but not long enough to get too comfortable on vacation. The length of the break can also be awkward to pack for. If you’re anything like me, you definitely tend to overpack, because for some reason we always need all of our shoes at all times. Luckily, going to school on the other side of the country from my home has taught me how to pack quickly and efficiently!


1. Count how many days/nights you’ll be away. 

This is crucial, especially for breaks that require a flight! It can be tough to stay under the 50lb weight limit for checked bags, as well as difficult to heave a heavy carry-on into the overhead compartments (I’ve broken too many nails doing this).

So count how many days and nights you’ll be on vacation, then plan how much underwear/bras, pants, shirts, etc. you will reasonably need for that many days. I always try to pack a couple extra pairs of underwear and bras just to be sure.

2. Check the weather forecast of your destination!

Moving back and forth from Los Angeles to Rochester has taught me so much about weather appropriate clothes. Double check your destination’s weather so you can pack the right sort of clothes! If you’re going somewhere hot, definitely pack shorts and tank tops (maybe a sweatshirt and pants just in case). It’s always nice to have some wiggle room with your outfits, but don’t waste precious space in your luggage with clothes you definitely won’t need.



3. Figure out what sorts of activities you’ll be doing on vacation!

Vacation is the perfect time to try new and adventurous things! If possible, try to find out what you’ll be doing on vacation so you can plan accordingly. Are you going swimming/ to the beach? Make sure to pack a swimsuit or two! Maybe you’re going hiking – definitely pack hiking boots and socks, or sneakers.

4. Pack a rough draft.

Once you’ve figured out the basics of what you’ll need for your trip, pack it all up! Don’t forget to try to fold clothes as small as they possibly can go, in order to maybe fit more later. This step is super useful, because it shows you how much space you have left, or how much you’ve overpacked.

Once you’ve packed it all, make an assessment. Have you been reasonable with your load? Did you pack your favorite shirt because it’s your favorite, but maybe you don’t necessarily need it? It’s important to be honest with yourself, because you don’t want to end up with luggage that’s too heavy, or with clothes you didn’t even wear!

5. Don’t forget the small things.

Once you’ve got your essential clothes and shoes packed, make a list of all the toiletries and small things you’ll need. These items are easily forgotten! (Once I was so busy last-minute packing, that I forgot to pack my Dailies contacts. I wore the same pair for 3 days straight).

It’s best to make a list first, and then pack those things. Especially if you need those toiletries for right before you leave! That way they’ll stay uncrossed on your list, and you’ll remember to throw them in your bags last minute. Never forget things like toothpaste, lotion, razor, tweezers, shampoo, etc! Sometimes it’s the most basic items that we tend to overlook.

6. Check, check, and double check!

If you’re flying and packing a checked bag, weigh it before you leave the house! It sucks to have to pay an extra fine for an overweight bag – or throwing away precious items to avoid the fee! Neither option is fun. Even if you’re not flying, make sure your luggage load is manageable; make sure you can carry and keep track of it. Again, double check that you have everything you realistically need, with those few extra items to keep you comfortable.

Happy packing and have fun!


Currently a Senior at the University of Rochester. I'm an English major, with a focus on media, editing, and publishing. I'm a sister of Phi Sigma Sigma, a member of College Feminists, and a Building Manager in Wilson Commons aka the greatest. In my free time (of which there is rarely any), I love to read, talk about/watch baseball, learn new things, and do fun things with my squad.
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