There is an art to packing for a trip. You can ruin your entire vacation by taking too much or too little.
It’s not very often that I regret taking too little stuff on a trip but I always regret taking too much stuff. Especially coming to Guatemala. Twice now I planned on a long stay so I brought a lot of stuff and I have regretted it both times. I am not going to do that again! Even if I stay for six months I am going to pack like I am staying for a week.
I can usually buy something at my destination if I really want it but I don’t like to get rid of something that I brought with me.
Which is completely illogical.
If I am willing to spend $100 to make my trip better then it doesn’t matter if I buy something I need that I will give away when I go home or if I give something away on a trip and will buy it again when I get home. It’s the same thing! But my mind likes to be so irrational when it comes to spending money. 🙂 If it is really valuable I could also mail it home. Anything is better than having too much stuff!
I have learned not to pack what I THINK I will wear and use. I pack what I ACTUALLY wear and use every day because I always want the same things when I am traveling. For instance, I have made the mistake of buying special travel shoes or clothes just because they were practical but I didn’t enjoy wearing them so it wasn’t worth the extra convenience.
I always pack dark colors so that I can wash all my clothes together. I love wearing white but I don’t want my beautiful white clothes ruined on a trip so I leave them home.
Here is what I have actually needed and used these last 3 months in Guatemala.
- 2 Pairs of black yoga pants – I live in yoga pants at home so I can go walking and exercise often throughout the day.
- 1 Pair of yoga shorts to wear around the house or to bed with a t-shirt
- 1 Pair of jeans – I throw on a pair of jeans when I’m going to town.
- 3-4 Dark colored t-shirts – woven clothing dries faster than knits but then it also needs to be ironed and it’s not as comfortable. Someday I’ll have to teach you to go iron free in cotton and linen.
- 1 Black skirt – dressy enough to wear to dinner.
- 1-2 Dressy shirts in medium to dark colors. Dressy but durable enough to throw in the wash with the rest of my clothes.
- 2 Colorful scarfs – these dress up my t-shirts, jeans and yoga pants, keep me warm or cool and take up very little space
- 1 Jacket/raincoat – depending on the climate
- 1 Thin black hoodie
- Under wear
- 2 Pairs of wool socks – one long and one footie. Wool works for winter and summer, protects against blisters, keeps you warm even when wet, dries fast and is antibacterial so they can be worn over and over between washings. It’s worth it to spend more and get good comfortable socks.
- 1 Necklace that matches everything and I never take off. A gold-plated chain with a small black pendant. It’s pretty but inexpensive so I won’t cry if it gets lost or broken.
- 1 Pair of black ballet flats that work for dress or casual. They are fabric, washable and take up almost no space in my bag.
- 1 Pair of healthy, zero drop walking shoes – our Land’s End swim shoes (they look like sneakers, not weird swim shoes) with the insoles removed (so they are zero drop) have been AWESOME for all of us on this trip for hiking trails and walking through the river.
- 1 Swimsuit – If I were staying at the beach I would take two. My swimsuit includes a tankini top with bottoms, a pair of long swim shorts that doubles as a regular pair of shorts, and a v-neck rashguard to limit sun exposure when I need to and doubles as a fast drying workout shirt.
- 1 Hat
- 1 Towel – read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He was so right about the towel. I’m using mine as a blanket at this very moment. Take a thin one that takes up little space and will dry fast.
- Girl Stuff – shampoo, makeup, brush, hair straightener, blow dryer, etc. I wish I could leave the electric appliances home but my hair is too curly (not in a good way) and I have too much of it to simplify.
- Technology – whatever crack you can’t live without and they don’t take up any space so bring extra chargers just in case. My personal list would be:
- cell phone
- a tiny laptop because I need the keyboard for my writing
- 2 or 3 Pairs of earphones because they are small and I always need a backup in case a baby or a rabbit chews through one.
- a tiny external speaker
- I HIGHLY recommend an external battery. I finally figured out how to charge my phone quickly when I’m on the go. TURN IT OFF FIRST. I’m so brilliant.
- If I really had to minimize I would take a cell phone and an external battery. I usually pack along a small extension cord as well.
- Writing material – technology can’t beat pencil and paper
- Journal and/or sketchbook
- Drawing pencils, sharpener, eraser
- My favorite pen
- First aid – This is everything I need to keep healthy at home or on the road.
- Small package of unscented baby wipes
- Lavender and peppermint essential oils are my standbys that I use for everything. I fill a 10 ml bottle with olive oil and add 10 drops of essential oil so my expensive oils go a long way.
- Lavender infused face and body lotion that my daughter makes. It’s the nicest, creamiest lotion I have ever used and is so healing for all kinds of skin ailments.
- Lip balm that my daughter makes
- Body spray – alcohol + a few drops of lavender and peppermint essential oils. It doesn’t keep the bugs away but it helps the itch and can be used to freshen up you and your clothes when you’re traveling. It’s a shower in a bottle! It will even remove the smell of smoke from your clothes.
- Netti pot – buy one and learn how to use it at the first sign of a cold and you will never be sick again. Fill it with warm water, 1/4 teaspoon or more of refined salt and 4 drops of your lavender/peppermint/olive oil mix. Do NOT use undiluted essential oils in your netti pot. Even one drop is too strong.
- Toxic Cancer-Causing Sunscreen- Don’t even think about it!!! Use your brain and gradually build up your tolerance to the sun ten minutes at a time. There is no shortcut to it. In the mean time COVER UP.
- My violin – it’s a pain to travel with but I want to play my violin as many places as possible so I take it with me.
- Yoga mat if I have room for it – last but not least because I can’t live without doing my exercises every day. It’s lightweight, you can sleep on it. It can keep you dry, keep you warm, and many other uses.
- Water bottle
- Bag of soaked/dehydrated nuts for snacks
- Cayenne pepper pills to spice up any meal or to use for medicinal purposes. Cayenne pepper can help stop bleeding for instance.
- Maybe some Redmond natural salt, diatomaceous earth, and activated charcoal pills
- A couple of plastic bags for wet and dirty clothes.
- Some plastic baggies for food, etc.
- 1 Backpack and a shoulder bag to stuff everything in to. I also take along a fanny pack to put my phone, key, lip balm and small change in when I walk or hike. It’s not fashionable but it works.
Packing For Children
I only pack for my children as much as they can carry themselves. From two years and up they are completely capable of carrying their own bag. When we went to Guatemala in 2013 my 2 and 5 year old carried their bags for miles everywhere we went. They might need a couple extra outfits and their bags will include a small doll or stuffed animal but they do not need a bunch of toys or things to entertain them. Instead, teach your children to entertain themselves and they will be happy everywhere they go.
What’s on your packing list? How is it different from mine?