Packing. Ugh. Just the thought of it stresses me out which seems odd as I do it so often. I travel about 20ish weeks of the year, essentially living out of a bag for a great part of the year. I can’t say that I have a fool-proof packing agenda, but I have definitely learned a few things along the way.
KERI‘S PACKING TIPS FOR ALL TRIPS:
If you can carry-on, by all means, do it. It saves you so many potential headaches. I’ve had my checked bag go on many adventures without me (finisterra.ca/walking-across-tuscany-blind). However, if you must check your bag, I cannot stress the importance of packing your carry-on bag with all your essentials. Besides medications, extra contacts/glasses, chargers, etc, I always recommend carrying a change of clothing which is appropriate for the destination (ie/ if you are going on a hiking trip, make sure you are carrying a hiking outfit as well as appropriate shoes, hat, etc) just incase you are without your bag for a few days.
KERI NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT…
A headlamp, phone portable battery pack, sunglasses, extra contacts/glasses, tiny speaker, downloaded maps on my phone, little black dress, Birks, Steripen for water purification, thermal water bottle, shampoo bars, scarf, little back-pack, waterproof shell, a purse with a cross-body strap…
1. PACKING TIPS FOR VARIED CLIMATES:
We always get asked, “How are we supposed to pack for this kind of trip?” For example, our most popular destination, hands-down, is Peru, and for good reason. Peru is a stunningly beautiful country with an incredibly diverse range of climates ranging from Lima in the coastal desert to Cusco high in the Andes, to the steamy Amazon Jungle. Keri has led about a dozen tours to Peru and can attest that Peru is challenging to pack for as is much of South America due to the varying climates and altitudes.
Layers. Layers. Layers. Packing for a trip like this is all about layers. I love merino wool products as they are lightweight, don’t stink, and great for both cold and hot climates – socks, tank tops, leggings, long-sleeved shirts, basically anything you can layer with.
A light-coloured long-sleeved linen or denim shirt are amazing layering pieces and also good for keeping the sun off you as well as pesky mosquitos.
Long dress or skirt which can be worn with our without tights is always a great piece to pack.
Leave the bulky sweaters and sweatshirts at home as they are heavy and take up way too much space. A small, water resistant puffy (ie/ Patagonia Nano Puff) is the perfect layering companion when travelling to a destination with a wide variety of climates.
A waterproof shell is great over layers and keeps you safe from wind and rain.
I never leave home without a variety of Zip-lock bags as they are so handy – great for toiletries, wet clothing, protecting cameras/phones in case of rain, etc. They are particularly invaluable when you are travelling through a variety of altitudes, like Peru, where air-pressure changes and toothpaste, shampoo, and lotions tend to explode.
2. PACKING TIPS FOR ALL SITUATIONS:
Packing for an active trip is one thing, but you don’t always want to look like you are going on safari! ‘Adventure outfits’, as I like to call them, (ie/ Tilley Hats, zip-off pants, multi-pocket vests, Tevas, etc) are excellent for safaris and hiking trips, but less desirable for going tapas bar-hopping in Barcelona.
Do a little research before you go. How do locals dress when they go for dinner? Casual, dressy, conservative?
LBD – Always pack at least one ‘going out’ outfit. Something that doesn’t require ironing, but makes you feel confident when you wear it. Whether it is a little black dress or a nice pair of slacks with a button-up shirt, bring something that you can wear for an evening out on the town.
Shoes – Shoes are always a pain to pack. Don’t bring too many – my rule is no more than 3 pairs. One pair of running/hiking shoes, a pair of everyday comfortable sandals (Birkenstocks are my go-to), and a pair of dressier sandals or shoes or booties. It’s important for men to bring a pair of close-toed shoes (other than runners) as many restaurants and bars around the globe don’t allow entrance without a pair of ‘nice’ shoes.
Scarves or sarongs – I never leave home without at least one dressier scarf as well as a sarong as they are completely invaluable when you travel. They are multi-purpose as they can be used to dress up an outfit, cover your knees or shoulders for modesty, keep you warm in heavily air-conditioned rooms and planes, perfect for beach cover-ups and blankets, and they totally change an outfit.
Accessories – Jewelry and accessories are a great way to dress up an outfit, but please leave your expensive stuff at home. If you can’t bear to part with it, don’t bring it with you. Most accessories don’t take up much space and they take an outfit to the next level – long necklaces, chunky bracelets, and a pair of earrings are my go-to accessories.
Bags – A light-weight, collapsable daypack that can be packed in a larger bag is very handy for day-trips and hiking. A medium-sized, cross-body strap purse or carrier-style bag is great for sight-seeing in urban areas. Something large enough that you can fit your camera and water bottle in is ideal. Always look for a cross-body bag instead of a shoulder bag for safety and keep your bag slung to the front! A small black clutch bag (with a wrist strap) is great for going out for dinner, but can easily be packed in a larger purse or backpack. Bringing a reusable tote bag or a grocery bag for shopping or the beach is also a great idea.
3. PACKING TIPS FOR LONG TRIPS:
I often travel anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks at a time and it seems that no matter how much I travel, I always stress-out when packing.
A few things I’ve learned along the way. Roll your clothes. You can fit way more into your bag if you roll versus folding. Packing cubes and Zip-lock bags are also excellent helpers for packing.
Don’t leave packing until the last minute, especially if you are going on a long trip. To be honest, you basically need the same amount of clothing for a one-week trip as you do for a multi-week journey. I suggest laying everything out on your bed to think about it for a bit. Mull it over. What do you like wearing? What clothes go together (colours, patterns, materials)? Leave out the items that don’t match with anything else.
Do a trial packing job…then take 1/2 out and leave it behind. Packing less is actually better, especially schlepping your own bag. You really don’t need to bring all of your favourite clothing, just a few favourite items.
I often get sick of clothing that I’ve worn while travelling that is otherwise in good shape so I leave items behind to make room for new purchases.
Don’t feel the need to bring absolutely EVERYTHING with you. Most toiletry items (sunscreens, lotions, contact solution, toothpaste, etc) can easily be found in pharmacies in most major cities around the world (with a few exceptions ie/ Cuba). We LOVE shampoo and conditioner bars like these and all-natural Zinc like this.
Learn from your past packing fails. What items didn’t you use or wear on your last trip? Leave ’em behind.
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