Packing tips (especially for women)

I noticed in the travel skills keep and ditch thread that a lot of people have issues with Rick Steves packing lists. This complaint seemed to come frequently from women, myself included. Since it appears that many people, women and men, dislike RS packing lists, I thought it could be helpful to discuss alternatives. So...what do you pack? Do you have a packing philosophy? A set packing list?

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7817 posts

For summer visits I always pack a sundress or two.. they take no room at all, and in the major heat they are cool and comfy and you don't have to worry about mix and matching. I also take a skirt, a plain one I can mix and match with a few tops. You can dress both up or down. I don't like shorts myself and I don't find shorts cooler then sundresses. I LOVE a good pair of capris, they are fine in warm weather but are also fine if its cooler( just throw on sweater) ,better then long pants .
I always try to pack light and always end up bringing too much, I only bring a 22 inch bag, but I still find I wear the same outfits over and over. I bring a few fashion necklaces and earrring for dress up( I literally throw them in a baggie and stuff in a corner somewhere. I also like those tank tops that have built in bras.

Posted by Mira
Midwest
108 posts

I bring enough clothes for 6 days plus what I'm wearing on the plane, and then find a laundromat or laundry service each week. I don't care to wash in the sink, so quick dry is not really a concern. I sometimes wash socks or underwear in the sink, but not clothes. I pick a neutral color (often black) and only bring things that match it. So everything can mix and match easily. I wear leggings, a long cardigan sweater (almost a dress), a tank top, and ballet flats on the plane. Looks decent, is comfortable, and can go to hotel or even around town without looking like a slob. The flats actually work very well as a walking shoe. I have a pair of socks in my carry on, because no one likes bare feet on the plane! TBC

Posted by Mira
Midwest
108 posts

General idea is everything - matches - everything In the summer, more sundresses/skirts and only 1 pair of pants, like Pat says. Take no space, cooler and look nicer than shorts. -1 coat (water resistant), lightweight or heavier depending on weather forecast -1 plain dress, can be casual or dressed up -1 skirt, usually a print OR if I'm hiking then a pair of hiking pants -scarf or two that matches most everything -tights to go under the dress and skirt, if it's going to be cool -2 pairs pants, I like stylish jeans -5 tops, at least two must go with the skirt and all go with the pants. In the fall, 1 of these is a sweater that can also go over the dress for fashionability :) -cardigan sweater that goes with every top and dress and can be rolled small in my purse (I get cold very, very easily indoors) -1 additional pair of shoes. If I'm hiking, then a sturdy hiking/walking shoe. If I'm walking around cities and towns, then a pair of TOMS or something comfy and not bulky -a swimsuit if swimming is in the cards. -tshirt for sleeping, wear the leggings from the plane as pj pants -6 pairs underwear and 2 bras -socks
-two to three pieces of inexpensive jewelry. Maybe a set of bracelets and a necklace Standard toiletries, all of which fit in the qt bag, and a small makeup kit. This is a small zipper bag that easily fits in any purse and has powder and brush, blush stick, tinted moisturizer, mascara, and neutral lipstick. Takes so little room, can apply in 4 minutes (timed it), and makes me feel much nicer.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
701 posts

I'm with you on the not washing in the sink (I make sure I stay somewhere about 7-9 days in with laundry facilities)...I too only bring a carry on, this trip bringing 2 pr jeans (will wear 1 on plane) I bought a nice plain black skirt for hotter days (yes, they still have hot days in late Sept)and a pair of dressier pants. Then I have 2 light cardis with 3/4 length sleeves that'll go with anything, a few thin tanks/camisoles for under the cardis, maybe 3-4 t-shirts...and my North Face 'Grace' rain trench coat (so very lighweight), my reg North Face jacket to wear on plane, I'll pack my Naot flat sandals, wear my Blundstone boots (last time, didn't take sandals, only boots and regretted it big time)...then the various acoutrements - makeup bag (very basic), electronics, a few earrings, maybe a necklace, snacks (lol) And I know some people feel strongly about this, but I save up my old socks and underwear and worn out bras and wear them a few times and discard along the way...I know someone will rip me a new for leaving my 'garbage' behind for them to deal with, but I don't really want to carry dirty socks/underwear, plus it empties up a little room in my bag as I go.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1554 posts

My sons and I are laughing so much about this topic. Twenty five years ago, our first trip to Europe was to France, Germany, Austria. We went in winter. I literally packed a different sweater and turtle neck for each day, seriously. Oh yeah and matching socks. Then I graduated to a jumper but we got tired of seeing me in the same jumper in Paris, Munich, etc. I learned. I take a couple of skirts and different tops and do very well. I don't wear jeans but that is personal preference, don't wear them at home either. Now I can go to
Europe for a week with a weekender bag. My how things have changed, at least for me!!!

Posted by Paula
Arlington, TX, USA
278 posts

I work with black, khaki, white and red and coordinate everything around these colors. The other option is black or khaki pants and a pair of jeans with tee shirts (solids) with coordinating scarves and jewelry. Depending
on the season a skirt or dress can be a good option.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7817 posts

Ah , avoid white for bottoms( skirts, shorts, or capris) they get dirty so fast as you are sitting on low walls, buses, metros, park benches, etc etc, and you will get one wear out of them before they look a bit grimy . At least a white top in easy care material can be sink washed.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
1999 posts

Haven't read Rick's packing lists. Why would I? I know what works for me when I travel and I pack it. Pack for a carry on no matter how long I'm gone. Any season. I pack what's comfortable and practical. I've learned to cull easily and have it down to a fine science. It does involve mostly quick drying items, some time spent washing items in a sink, fewer gadgets, less toiletries, and always two pair of well worn shoes or sandals. One to wear and one to alternate. For me nothing worse than having my feet hurt when I travel.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7176 posts

I wouldn't say I don't like Rick's list, I'd say I've developed my own list based on my personal likes and preferences. The key to packing light isn't to follow a packing list, it's to constantly reduce your load to the least you need to take with you. If there's a problem with following Rick's list it's that people think they need five of an item, when three may be plenty - use the list as a starting point, not the final word. Rick's helpful extras can easily lead to overpacking if you bring everything on the list. I like his concept about "don't ask whether you might use something, ask whether you will use it enough to justify lugging it around." I've packed many of those same helpful extras over the years but reduced or eliminated them based on travel experience.

Posted by Cindy
San Jose
36 posts

The clothes change for each trip, but the basics are the same: *** Create a capsule wardrobe: I base mine on one dark neutral, one color and add in black, white, cream for extra. Use scarves for color pops of other colors. All clothing is summer weight to wash & dry. Layer for warmth. *** Capsule wardrobe: 1 dark neutral dress pants, 1 lighter casual pants (roll up into capris) 1 dark neutral cardi 1 color cardi 1 dark neutral jersey dress 4-5 tops: 1 dark neutral, 1 color, 1 color print, 1 white or cream, 1 other 1 pair walking/hiking shoes, 1 pair walkable dress shoes When layered, these create 36 different outfits *** Bring temperature extenders: 1 silk long underwear shirt, leggings or tights, scarf, fleece or jacket, nice raincoat.
*** Accessories! 2 belts, 1 earring/bracelet in color, 1 earring/bracklet/necklace in metal, 2 scarves (1 big, one small) Everything gets decanted into small containers, including solids. Use solids as much as possible, decant liquids into the smallest amount possible. Use my smart phone for document storage (as well as the cloud), books, travel docs, maps, et. Electronics must be recharged by USB: camera battery charger, headlamp, smart phone, GPS. I do cheat and take a dual voltage curling iron.

Posted by Liz
Watertown, MA, USA
16 posts

I've packed and overpacked, but I usually end up wearing just about 5 days worth of clothes on a 2 week trip. I don't bring make-up or jewelry, because I don't wear them at home, and I certainly don't want to cart them to Europe! I also don't wear dresses, heels, or sandals; just comfortable, sturdy shoes that can be walked in all day then worn to dinner. I always bring two pairs to alternate.
I bring about 3 pairs pants, 2 pairs jeans and tops and sweaters in varying weights. I am debating about bringing old undies vs buying ex officio undies for my next trip - since I'm going down to a smaller suitcase. Does it really matter if you are wearing blusher or earrings? Or if you add a scarf to your wardrobe? Personally I'd rather have room to buy a gift for a friend or spend the extra time taking a picture (with my tiny digital camera!) than worrying about what accessories I'm wearing, but some people care more about their appearance than I do.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7817 posts

Liz, yes, make up matters, it takes up less space then a paperback ( or a cell phone an charger, two things we leave at home) , it goes on every day and has since 1975 , and its non negoitable, its not what takes up room in a suitcase anyways.

Posted by Leslie
Atlanta, Georgia
370 posts

If you look at Rick Steves and think 'Wow, that style would look great on a lady!', then by all means, follow his list. There are plenty of light packing stylish ladies to follow here and other places. I don't pack light, don't even try anymore. I did once and it sucked but I was going from operas to beaches. It involved a bunch of shopping which I HATE on vacation. Now I have 1 checked bag and a carry-on with anything I need to survive a couple of days and anything I would hate to lose. But I don't move a lot unless I have a car boot to throw it all in. Hope you can pull off what I can't :)

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

I have a problem keeping my rolling bag under 20# packed. The bag itself weighs 6 or 7#. The clothes I take usually add up to about 5#. I take pills, and altogether they weigh over a pound (I'm old; I take lots of pills) for a 3-4 week trip. Add a book and a bunch of printed out stuff, then some sandals..... My toothbrush is fairly heavy as it has a couple of batteries in it. I can't get my teeth clean with a normal toothbrush. I favor dark pants so drips and dirt don't show. My clothes are mix&match colors, navy/red/black with a scarf or two to dress it up. I fly to London usually. Most liquids are easily left at home and bought as needed at Boots in London. Sometimes I've found small sizes of lotion, shampoo, etc. Often hotels provide shampoo and lotion. When I think of it, I empty out my bag completely before I start packing. Then I re-pack and eliminate unnecessary or duplicated items. As I travel I throw out paperwork that is no longer needed.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2428 posts

I only take a carryon plus daybag for my 3-month trips. I pack the same for 3 months as I would for two weeks, and plan to buy some things (usually toiletries or personal care items) along the way as my travel-size items get used up. I use grey as my neutral color since it shows less travel debris than black does; brown would work, too. Then I take several different color tops (a couple of long- or 3/4-sleeve but mostly short), a sweater, a good rain-resistant piece (not an umbrella, I like to be hands-free and a good poncho will also cover the daybag). Two pair of comfy shoes that I can alternate, socks, and enough underwear for a week. I find laundromats but in between I was items in the hotel room sink (2.5 gallon size baggie, you can let things soak for a while). I sometimes have the hotel send out some things for laundering, too, but not often. When traveling by train or bus, the daybag holds all the electronic stuff (not much: camera, phone, chargers, meds, sections of guidebooks, maps, etc.). I also take clothing that I can leave behind (which makes room for purchases)!

Posted by bronwen
maplewood, new jersey, usa
750 posts

We travel in winter. Wear jeans and pack one pair. Three pairs tights and two short skirts. Tee shirts and two sweaters. Something like that. Tights take no space to pack.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
2845 posts

Here's what I usually do Wear on plane: black cotton-blend pants, turtleneck/T-shirt and a "big shirt" {button up that can look a bit like a jacket}, water resistant/proof coat with hood, good walking shoes - black. Pack in carry-on suitcase: 2-3 pair black or khaki cotton-blend pants (I am allergic to wool and rather hot-natured), 3 or 4 T-shirts/turtlenecks 1 or 2 "big shirts", optional 1-2 sweaters/cardigans that go with all of above, 3-5 bras, enough panties for at least 1 week (often enough for entire trip) same with socks, hand wipes, stain wipes, first aid "kit" in a baggie- band-aids, small packets of Neosporin, dental floss, Advil or Aleve, Benadryl, Dramamine, Nyquil gel capsules, etc.), sewing "kit"( various colors thread wrapped around a small piece of cardboard, 2 needles, buttons, safety pins), medications, medical info sheet, copy of insurance info, 3-1-1 bag with deodorant, perfume, shampoo, lipstick, chap stick, toothpaste, etc., another quart baggie with eye shadow, blush, powder, comb, brush, tweezers, razor, clippers, etc. , "feminine supplies" if needed, wash cloth in a baggie, gloves, hat or hooded scarf in winter. Totally optional- scarves, phone, charger, adapter plug, camera & charger, extra memory cards for camera, paper & pen, extra shoe liners, umbrella, day pack. Hubby gets by with a bit less - no need to duplicate first aid/sewing kits, etc. My suitcase will weigh about 14-15 lbs. and his will weigh 10 or a little less.
We even did an around the world trip with the same type stuff! It all fits in Rick's bags that we bought more than 20 years ago and that still look almost new. I carry a day pack and move stuff into it as needed.

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1308 posts

I used to be a big overpacker and Rick's list did help me pare down to what I now know are the essentials for a trip. I bring what I wear at home (jeans and short- and long-sleeved shirts) and keep a basic packing list that I modify for each trip. I tend to get too warm so don't bring sweaters, and I don't wear jewelry on trips either.

Posted by Deb
Sioux Falls, SD
97 posts

I too took Rick's basic ideas and modified it for my preference. I usually go in the summer, so my list reflects that. Clothes: 2 pair capris, 1-2 pair sKorts (I like the dressy look of sKorts and capris over shorts), 1 pair jeans (usually worn on the cold, cold plane), 1 skirt, tank tops or short sleve shirts with a light weight cardigan. One rain jacket with hood. Shorts and a tank with built in bra as PJs, swimsuit, undies. I bring just one pair of sandals (Keens) I tend to go with black as the base and add a few colors (Actually, my whole wardrobe is black with touches of brown, red, purple, and olive...so it's how I dress anyway :-) ). My skirt is a nice, long, beach-style wrap around that I can wear to dinner, but can also stick it in my day pack in case I'm going in a church and the skorts aren't going to cut it. Toiletries: Platic bags are always useful. I bring the ones for airport security, but also different sizes for laundry, carrying lunch, etc. Dryer sheets are great to slip between clothes in your luggage and in your shoes at night. A travel size bottle of Fabreeze is always nice too. For makeup, I can't live without eye makeup--but that's all I bring; no base, lipstick or blush. I always take a couple packets of carryout plastic silverware and a waterbottle. For my hair (not quite shoulder length), I don't bring a dryer or iron. I pull it back in clips or a headband and just let it airdry. Other than a watch and one pair of earrings, I don't do jewelry on vacations. Other stuff: Keep kleenix in your day pack (bathrooms are sometimes lacking), also carry wet wipes and purell.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2428 posts

Swan, good tip about throwing out paperwork. I eliminate guidebook pages and tourist maps as I go, but their space gets replaced with receipts. The last thing I throw away is the travel insurance packet (I usually keep it until I get home in one piece).

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

I use a Rick Steves' 22" Roll Aboard. I pack 4 slacks and 4 travel blouses not including what I wear on plane. Black fleece jacket. My colors are black, tan and dark brown. I take a pair of Teva tennis shoes and Teva sandals as I can walk 5-10 miles a day in them without my feet hurting. 4 pairs of running socks as they are cushioned. My makeup kit is as small as a paperback book. Woolite, 2 RS travel clothes lines, clothes pins, 6 hangers. Silk sleep sheet, 2 pairs of PJs, small house slippers, thongs for showers in hostels. All of the above and much much more smaller stuff goes into the 22". It is usually stuffed to the weight limit. I use a day backpack as my "purse" on the planes. It is stuffed to the weight limit. My laptop, round long neck pillow, PacSafe Stash Safe and stuffed with all my small "must haves".

Posted by Susanna
Charlotte, USA
38 posts

My main concern now is comfort. I ALWAYS lay out my clothes first and then eliminate. I ONLY take items I enjoy wearing. I usually pick 2 primary colors, like black & khaki. I take pants, skirts, cotton t-shirts and cardigans in both colors. Then add other tops that go with both colors. I roll my clothes rather than fold them. I pack my suitcase with designated areas for tops and bottoms. Then I don't have to dig thru everything to find a top. Comfy shoes are a must. I use zip lock baggies. 1 - makeup, 1 - soap & microfiber washcloth, 1 - toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. Prior to my trips, I take notice of items used daily, such as eye drops, floss, whatever. I make sure these items go into my bag. PERSONAL MUST HAVES: 2 white envelopes. One for customs and the other is for all other receipts. A pair of cotton footies to wear in hotel rooms. An extra large empty plastic bag to keep dirty clothes separate from the clean ones. Pens and small memo book or notepad. 8 x 11 manila envelope marked with each city I plan to visit. Maps, copy of room reservation, copy of train ticket, etc.
I only travel with a 22 inch carry on that has wheels. It has served me well for up to 3 week vacations in Europe!!!

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Lots of good ideas here. Obviously many people have traveled a lot. My wife and I too consider Rick Steves' packing list, making minor changes for our needs. I'm more of the golf shirt and khaki pants kind of buy; low maintenance. My wife also mixes contrasting colors, with blacks and tan as dominant colors. We have all our blue jeans starched at the laundry. Unless I got dirt on the jeans, I could easily wear one pair per week. We seldom even use half the clothes in a 21" rolling bag for 2 weeks. Chances are the people you come in touch with will never see you again. They don't know how many days your clothes have been worn.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
640 posts

My husband and I travel carryon only. One bag, one "purse" each. We travel for one month at a time. We take enough for one week plus one day plus what we wear on the plane. We do laundry in the apartments we rent or in public facilities. We only wash things out in the sink when we are desperate. Public laundries are a great place to meet people, really. We use RS's list as a base. I made a spreadsheet for me from that list and I it each trip. I couldn't pack without it. My husband is much looser and tends to take too much. That comes in handy when the guys managing the security lines take pity on the old white haired guy with the heavy looking pack, but he needs to only take stuff that he will wear and not come home with things that have never been worn. I make sure that everything I take goes with almost everything else. I'm trying to reach the point where I can remove the almost from that sentence. The Vivienne Files blog been a big help with that. We are large people, so we can't pack quite as many things in our luggage as many of the previous people have listed. That's probably a good thing, but it can be a challenge when our trip includes two or more radically different climates. We both agree that so long as we have our meds, glasses and the important cards, identification and paperwork we carry in our money belts, we can cope with any situation.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
640 posts

I meant to say that I update that spreadsheet for each trip. For some reason, I couldn't make the edit stick. Sorry.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
233 posts

Spring & Fall Travel: CLOTHING & Accessories Waterproof jacket w/hood & zipped in linerJeans: blue or blackSlacks: navy, black, grayLight wgt pants: gray or blackSilk layer LS top & bottom, blackCardigan light weight, print or coloredCardigan mid weight, solid neutralFleece light wgt, black2 LS tees: 1 Neutral, 1 colored3 SS tees: 1 dressy, 1 colored, 1 neutral1 LS button blouse: Bue or White1 Cami Tee1 Tank Tee3 Bras: 2 Cotton, 1 Sports6 undies7 socks: 4 pr peds black, 1 pr mid wgt socks, 2 pr lt wgt1 pair tightsPJ Tee: use silk bottom as needed & layer w/fleece as needed for lounging.2 pair shoes: Slip on black leather waterproof; Laced black waterproof walkersWarm Hat, Cap, Warm Gloves, Outer scarfNeck scarfLarge colored bandana carry in my shoulder bagLeather reversible belt2 costume bracelets 3 pair earrings: medium costume, white pearl ball, small hoops1 gold necklace1 costume necklaceWatchWedding band

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
233 posts

PART TWO > Everything can be sink washed & dry overnight except the mid weight cardigan takes almost 2 days & the fleece takes a full day. >Trips into June or that start early October I'll put in a Skort. >I like to use a off laundry service after 5-6 days for good cleaning. * My feet are most improtant for me and to travel well. I wear orthotic s in each pair of shoes & wear cotton blend fabric socks and wash out peds after usage. Electronics: Use free wireless or will pay a small fee to upload photos & keep e-mailbox low. Cell phone & chargerCamera & charger & upload for PCAdaptor/convertorTravel alarm clock Money Matters >Passport, Credit Card, Debit Card, USD, Local Currency small amount to start trip & normally leftover from last trip else I'll get some before I leave the States. >Silk moneybelt worn on my back side versus the front waist line. I'll leave out my essential and misc list.
In trying to keep weight at 20 pds so I've avoided taking a tablet or Ipad but would like to try it one time.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
233 posts

Part Three Essentials for me 2 pair Reading glasses: leave one in the roomBifocal sunglassesSunglasses(2) medications, Fiber, Multi-Vitamin, Sugar free mints/hard candyPhotocopy of prescription ordersEmergency Contact Information & Itinerary & Document information photocopied and placed inside luggage; and emailed to myself. Travel aides. Gum, Hard Candy, Mints, Aleve, OTC stomach-allergy-cold remedy, Travel size face care productsHanging toiletry bag with minimum toiletries, Light makeup, 3-4 Hair pieces, Blow brush.Laundry kit: Clothesline, microfiber towel, flat sink stop, 8 clothespins, hangars(2).Small facecloth, body wash puffPen & mini note pad in shoulder bag Ziplock bags: (2) 2-1/2 gallon (dirty shoes, dirty clothes); (4) Gallon size; (6) Quart RS/other nylon tote bag leave flat bottom of luggage until needed (shopping, laundry) Miscellaneous Pen & small journal2 Sharpwriter pencils Slim highlighterSmall magnifying eye pieceKey Fob lightCollapsible drinking cupTravel plastic silverware for room eatingAccordion style file: Receipts, Travel notes, souvenoir papers & postcards, pre- addressed labels for postcards.Pages from guide books when neededMini language translation book when neededRecyclable tote bag from home which I leave in shoulder bag for food shopping there. >Many European countries do not use plastic bags & don't supply bags at corner stores.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
233 posts

PART FOUR After 5-6 days I prefer to drop laundry at local spot to wash everything thoroughly. Jeans get heavier & smell when not cleaned within 7 days. Airplane Mode Quiet HeadphonesEarplugsNeck PillowEye ShadesPaperbackMagazineGame bookGum-SF hard candy (8)-Mints-Snack mix-Protein Bar-Water Bottle Luggage Shoulder Messenger Bag Atlantic Ultra Lite (22" x 12" x13") Wheeled Duffel or the RS 21" Bag. I have both an earlier RS model at $99.99 and a later RS model at $129.99 > The Atlantic weighs only 5.5 pounds. I can fit things more easily into this duffle than any suitcase style. Lately this flys across the pond with me. I use the RS for the U.S & other trips. > Both pieces often have issues going into those tiny over head bins! In summary I know whatever I forget or need can be bought wherever I'm headed. Upon arrival I prefer to hit the ground and move forward. To have a minimal amount of local currency on me, minimal toiletries and comforts like sugar free gum & mints, and some OTC remedy if needed, is a covenience which makes my trip go smoother.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
233 posts

Part FIVE I put the messenger bag inside a Baggallini carry on tote, & then stuff my airplane comfort mode items into the Baggallini, too. For TSA and boarding I wear a mini-shoulder wallet that holds my passport, boarding pass, some money and a credit card. After I am settled into my plane seat I put the mini- shoulder wallet inside a deep zippered pocket of the Baggallini. Upon arrival I dig it back out. I wear my money belt on the plane as it contains my debit card and other money. I seem to learn new tips that work best for me each time I travel somewhere.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Diane, That's the most comprehensive packing list I've ever seen. The only thing you left out was body parts. If you haven't already, you might look at http://ladylighttravel.wordpress.com for a nice, refreshing approach to traveling light for women.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
233 posts

Monte, thanks I bookmarked the site. The clothing part I can put together well. It's all the little misc' items that add up on me. I've trimmed & tossed much of my list but seem to like my comforts. My health is the 1st priority for me. I do take items that I don't want to run out of during my travel.

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1407 posts

I like to dress well wherever I go. What I pack depends on where I'm going (and the weather of course), how long I'm going to be in one place, whether I have a washing machine available, and if I will be going to any special events that require dressy clothes. I try to bring only a carry-on if possible, but for longer stays, or in winter, I may check a larger bag. I try to coordinate my outfits so virtually everything goes with everything, and bring minimal jewelry, and only essential cosmetics, necessary medications. If I don't have a washing machine I hand wash things. Works for me. Shoes are very important, at least 2 pairs of stylish yet comfortable ones. I travel mostly to cities and always buy some clothing items over here, so I bring an extra duffle bag to accommodate things that I buy. Weight of my suitcase is a big issue for me. I try to keep it as light as I can.
I bring some necessary extras to make travel and my stay comfortable, but don't like a lot of little items that seem like a good idea in catalogues, but I end up not using most of them, and it's nerve-wracking to deal with them. I always bring a travel alarm clock though. My iphone is essential, and sometimes my laptop also.