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Four Packing Report Summaries

Since mid April. I have had four trips of varying lengths and decided to post a quick packing report for all four. I just haven’t seen that many recently (although I hope that will change soon!) and my favorite thing is reading how people packed, their clothing choices, etc. Rather than writing all the details of what I brought, I am just highlighting my “lessons learned”. For some background, I am not a super minimalist packer (although I can do it, and have done it for some trips). A typical week (or two or three) vacation in the US means a 21” rolling suitcase and some kind of carryon or tote, which includes a small crossbody purse. International travel has been a backpack (such as Rick Steves brand) and a larger crossbody. I have started a spreadsheet for my varied trips. Each tab is a trip, where I document what I brought and what worked/what didn’t, etc. I think I will remember what I brought, but of course, when I review my lists, I find I didn’t!

Trip 1: Hawaii
Dh and I were fortunate enough to spend a week in Hawaii (plus 2 travel days) in April.
For this trip, I took my Travelpro 21” Expandable Spinner and a Kipling Sasha tote. But neither were full at all. My crossbody easily fit in the tote, with plenty of room to spare.

Lessons Learned from Hawaii trip
I have traveled a lot in the south in the summer, when it’s so hot outside and can be freezing cold inside, so I bought two items of outerwear. I definitely did not need both. Hawaii is much different than the south, with many restaurants with open walls to outside and patio style, so I wasn’t wearing a jacket much. However, I definitely needed one jacket or sweater. I wore the jeans jacket on the plane, and some evenings when it was breezy (rather than actually cold).

I discovered that while I usually wear pants and a top, in a warm tropical climate, I really preferred dresses. I like pants for the plane and for long sightseeing days, but that was a total of 5 days of our vacation (two travel days and three days of sightseeing). Since dh and I like to cruise, I want to remember this if we’re on a Caribbean cruise, for example. I used the dresses for pool coverups, as well as going to dinner and just relaxing around the resort.

I didn’t take flip flops and didn’t miss them. I wore the water shoes in the pool area, on the beach and in the pools. In fact, I discovered I much preferred the water shoes to flip flops.

I keep my toiletry kit and liquids quart bag always packed. I took advice from Cindy H and added in my meds, emergency & misc stuff and some jewelry into the pockets of the Sea to Summit and it has worked great. I have a small, lightweight jewelry case (a thoughtful gift from my daughter), but didn’t pack it (totally forgot). However, because I now keep a couple pairs of post earrings and a seed pearl necklace in my toiletries kit, I was fine. I also keep about a days supply of OTC meds in my kit and I used a couple of items (some tums and excedrin). It’s true we could have gone to the hotel shop and paid $12 for some OTC items but I was glad I could just grab what I needed.

I also forgot my wet bag, which I use not only as a wet bag but to put in the airplane seat pocket (it’s about 8x11 sized). I slip it in and put anything I want in flight, so it doesn’t get lost. And I do have personal experience with this….I left my iPad mini in a seat pocket on Southwest! This needs to be added as a permanent item on my packing lists.

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Trip 2: St. Louis
I then spent 5 days in the midwest. This trip started originally as a long weekend to attend a baby shower for a set of twins…...much wanted babies after many years of trying, so I wanted to be there to celebrate. It ended up being that, plus relocating my mom to a retirement community. We traveled on Southwest, so we had 4 free bags, plus two additional we paid for, plus two rolling carryons and 2 under seat bags. All was packed for my mom except one under seat bag (for me).

I was overwhelmed with work and getting my mom ready, so essentially made a list and packed a day before (not my usual operating procedure).

I used the Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekender Carry on Backpack for my under seat bag and flew Southwest. I carried it on my back and used it as a personal item, although it was a little big for under the seat. It was fine in width and depth (I did not pack it full), but it was a little too long (it stuck out a little from under the seat. Because it was not full, I kind of squished it and made it fit. The dimensions are: 13 x 7.9 x 19.7 inches. The weight is 1.76 lbs. The website says the volume is 38L but when I do the math I get 33 L. I am mentioning this bag only because it has been discussed before in this forum. I used the compression packing cubes from Amazon.

Lessons Learned from St. Louis trip
I screwed up…..I didn’t check the weather and just assumed it would be nice. It really wasn’t. I don’t like dresses when it’s cold so I didn't wear the one I brought. I did wear capris but would have preferred ankle length pants. I only wore the sandals inside, because I was cold otherwise. Note to self: especially for short trips….check the weather! Don’t assume!

I also forgot to pack a tote for the way home as a carry on (I shipped through two 24” suitcases that belong to dh and myself that I used to move my mom). I would have liked a zippered tote for my personal item (I shipped through my Hynes bag stuffed in the larger suitcase. However, I carry a very lightweight tote in my Sea to Summit (part of my emergency supplies) so used that (A Sea to Summit bag-

I really liked the Hynes bag. (This is it. It’s length is shorter than the Rick Steves backpack (which I also have) which fit me better as I am short. It’s depth is also less, which I also liked. The outside pocket is (for me) the perfect size. It fits what I need while flying, so there is easy access. It also has a strap that goes across the chest, to help with the shoulder straps. As a comparison, the Rick Steves bag has the waist strap, which helps support the weight of the bag better. For me, the chest strap is fine, since I am trying to have my bag be lighter and I don’t carry it for great lengths. It will probably become my “go to” bag for many airline trips I take.

I don’t “love” the Sea to Summit bag, because the fabric is very plastic like. And, the strap is too long for me. However, it packs so very small and is so incredibly light (like 2 ounces), I will continue to use it. I need to take it to my tailor and see if the strap can be shortened.

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Trip 3: Driving Trip
For my third trip my dh and I drove my moms car to the St. Louis, bringing her dog as well. The drive is 32 hours, so we are doing the drive in 4 days. I’m then spending a week visiting family and friends.

Lessons Learned from Driving Trip
This time I used some eBags lightweight packing cubes and some of the older (no longer sold) gray packing cubes from IKEA. I liked these so much better than the compression bags. I find when compressed, there is almost a “bulge” in the center and they don’t pack as well. The ones I used this trip pack more evenly.

I used the Hynes bag again. I really like this bag! I love the way it fits on my back (because of how short I am). Obviously, the one thing I don’t know yet is how it will hold up over time, although it seems made well enough. As I mentioned above, I am not a super minimalist packer, but I think with these recent trips (and my previous ones before COVID), I have discovered what works for me. For a cruise, or a trip where I might need/want a large amount of varied clothing, a 22” roller + a tote is great for me. But when I don’t need a huge variety of clothing, my new “go to” bag is the Hynes backpack. My girlfriend and I are planning 10 days in London in 2022, and I absolutely think the Hynes bag will work perfectly.

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Trip 4: Las Vegas/Palm Springs/San Diego trip
My final trip was a two week trip to Las Vegas, Palm Springs and San Diego. While dh and I drove, we had very limited space, as we were bringing more bags for my mom. The family from the midwest were taking them home (Southwest airlines,so they each had 2 free bags.

I used my Travelpro 21” Expandable Spinner as my main bag. For a tote, I used the Lug Ace tote (the original bag, not the 2). (This is the Lug 2...I think the big difference is the Lug 2 now has straps to carry as a backpack…..
I am one of those people obsessed with travel bags and totes (it’s a sickness I believe!). I was wondering if I’d like it as a carryon personal item. What attracted me was the insulated pocket as well as the larger outside pockets and the fact that it’s taller than my other totes/personal items at 14”.

Lessons Learned from Las Vegas/Palm Springs/San Diego trip
For this kind of trip, I liked the space of the 21” roller bag. We actually stayed at 4 locations, so I appreciated not having to pack perfectly each time we moved.

It turns out the Lug bag is not something I’d usually like as a travel bag, but will be good for certain trips. It’s too heavy for me (1.9 pounds) to use as a “go to” bag. However, a feature it does have is an insulated pocket for snacks or drinks. I think this could be a good bag when I travel with my mom. I feel like traveling with her now is like how I traveled when my kids were little…..making sure I have snacks and drinks, a travel blanket (in case she gets cold), etc. (She has aged alot over the last couple of years-not sure if it’s due to Covid or Covid maybe made us realize it). Anyway, I try to take her on a couple of trips a year. I also may just use it for work, because the features will work well for me and the weight of the bag is less of a big deal.

The dresses I brought were cotton and were horribly wrinkled from packing. Note to self…..don’t bring anything that needs to be ironed! I ended up buying a bunch of clothing that will be great for travel.
Two casual dresses. The brand is Jostar ( and I plan on buying more! Being short and plus sized, I have a hard time finding dresses that fit correctly. These fit me perfectly! They will work great for travel because they are so lightweight, pack small and are wrinkle free. Very simple, A line dresses.

I also bought a “dressy” dress, the same material (92% polyester and 8% spandex). The brand is Reina and says “made in USA” but I couldn’t find the brand online except on resale sites like Poshmark. What I like about it is the ¾ length sleeves (I’m typically cold in restaurants), it has a ruching look (I love ruching) and how nice it looks. Dh likes to cruise, and this will be perfect for the “gala” evenings.

Finally, a pair of “dressy” black pants. They are labeled as capri length, but because I am short, fit like ankle pants. Again, a spandex/polyester blend so lightweight, and wrinkle free. The brand is “Haute Today” and again, I couldn’t find the brand online. While they can be dressed up, they also work as casual pants with a tee.

I traveled with a jean jacket on all four trips, which is new for me. It’s become a “go to” clothing item for me. I used to travel with cardigan sweaters and/or full zip cardigan style sweatshirts, but I am loving having a jean jacket. It seems to go with everything, even a dress. Obviously, not the best choice for a “nicer” outfit, but that’s not something I am typically doing.

I hope my thoughts and comments are helpful to someone.

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1277 posts


Thank you, and check the weather!!

Re the denim question, yrs ago on a 12 day bus tour through Europe I had a chambray shirt that ended up being a top layer in the mornings, on the bus, etc. It was the perfect weight and perhaps I should have had a slightly dressier version if I knew I would be such a staple

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2460 posts

Thanks for the report Panda, great tips, especially about the Jean jacket. I’m going to substitute this for a sweatshirt on my trip in September. Denim seems to go with everything.

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840 posts

Thanks for the fun post! Finally something other than airline policies and entry restrictions that change daily.

Just my opinion, of course: my packing system is based on many years of ultralight backpacking and bicycle touring. I leaned what I didn't need. I also learned the value of standardizing on a small number of essential and multi-purpose items, the bag, and the locations of everything within the bag. That way I could tell instantly what was missing or misplaced. I easily adapted these practices to carry-on-only airline travel.

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1794 posts

Loved it! I am not so organized in packing. I tend to use the same 20” spinner whether I am gone a week or a month, flying or driving, and just vary clothes based on weather. But I always wind up with things I didn’t use. You would think I would learn. Lol.

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278 posts

Great tips! I always think that I should write down what I wore the most and what I didn’t wear, but then I forget. I like the idea of having a spreadsheet. One year I didn’t pack a warmer layer for Hawaii since I rarely need it, and wished I had something for cooler mornings. I ended up buying a thin sweatshirt which I still wear. I love traveling with a denim jacket also, especially now that I’ve found one that is soft and not stiff. You’ve inspired me to keep better track of my packing lists!

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I’m currently on my first plane trip in 20 months. I thought about starting a thread entitled “I forgot how to pack” but didn’t have time since I forgot how to pack. Since I was traveling to a hot humid climate I decided to skip the pashmina I usually keep in my carry on. Big mistake. I really wish I had it since the plane’s overhead vents are on full open and for good reason. So note to self, keep the pashmina.

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I love traveling with a denim jacket also, especially now that I’ve
found one that is soft and not stiff.

Meg, That's it! That's why I have loved this new denim jacket. It's 67% cotton, 21% polyester, 11% rayon and 1% spandex. It's very soft and pliable and doesn't "weigh me down".I just knew it's been great for travel.

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I love your post! It’s fun to read how others pack, especially for different types of trips. When we go to Hawaii, we pack one suitcase with food items since they’re so expensive there.

I agree with your pashmina on the plane advice. Even in the middle of Summer, I can freeze on an airplane!

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Excellent post and lots of good tips. I am also a bit addicted to bags and packing discussions and this one hit all the right notes!

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7587 posts

Same as Whisper. Thanks for this fun post, pandabear.

I am getting ready to pack for two weeks in Norway via public transport - I am almost sure this means my Gregory 40-liter Tribute backpack, but I have a feeling I will need something additional. I don’t do too well at packing light- I like my comforts.

And I need my books and I just don’t want everything on Kindle. I’m gonna have to take all my books on Kindle, aren’t I? Harumph.

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Travelmom, yes, this is a bit of what I’m hoping, especially in BOOK TOWN Mundal, but I need to start off with at least two or three, because my first long stay is four nights in Balestrand, with an additional night in Flam, before I can make it to book town!!! Plus of course I can only read books in English, I don’t know how much of an English-language stock the average mid-sized Norwegian town bookstore carries.

We shall see . . . .

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1757 posts

Hi PandaBear, thanks for the interesting and informative post! I love reading about people’s packing experiences!

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7587 posts

Also Jean's post about taking food to Hawaii makes me think I should definitely pack some extra nuts, etc for those times when you can't quite make a meal — I have an idea (maybe wrong??) that food is more expensive in Norway than here, similar to Hawaii.

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.... tho it's always safest to have food still sealed by the manufacturers, I know Hawaii has usda inspections so as to not have dangerous insects impact the crops.....

I think have told the story here of being pulled out for a hand luggage inspection because of the mysterious mass in my luggage that was a pound of coffee.... the fact that my bag also had instant oatmeal, Styrofoam bowls and coffee filters added credence to my "breakfast " story

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9681 posts

"I thought about starting a thread entitled “I forgot how to pack” but didn’t have time since I forgot how to pack."

Trotter, really, I laughed out loud! Maybe we all need to be doing "recreational packing" which is something my brother and I did when we were first introduced to light packing!

Panda - what a fun thread. Sending you hugs as I am sure moving your Mom that distance and into a different living situation was hard for you and her. I love the print on that Hynes bag - so cute!

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1656 posts

I agree fun thread...and it inspired me to do a deep inventory of all the dusty gear in my closet. None of it seems as interesting as what's on your list, PandaBear. Good thing I have Amazon Prime...I may be doing some shopping :)

For those mentioning nuts/snacks, here's what I pack on just about every trip - they've saved me from starving multiple times I also pack Starbucks via coffee packets - particularly helpful in Norway/Denmark where prices for coffee seemed....well, unreasonable.

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Would you mind referencing what denim jacket you bought as I too find most of them to be heavy and stiff.

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Would you mind referencing what denim jacket you bought as I too find
most of them to be heavy and stiff.

Hi Nancy, My jeans jacket is not a name brand. I got it at T.J. Maxx, I believe. The brand if D. Jeans. However, I googled it and found it!

I think there are two factors in the comfort level. One is the fact the fabric is 12% rayon and spandex, plus polyester, in addition to cotton. . The other is that I needed the sleeves shortened and when I did, I had the cuff end just above my wrist. So when I'm moving around, it's more like a 3/4 sleeve. I know that seems weird, but the shorter sleeves make it easier to wear. I realize it's probably just me, but long sleeves on a jacket seem to limit movement. Of course, I live in CA! I'd probably feel differently in Buffalo NY or Minneapolis, MN!

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111 posts

Panda - what a fun thread. Sending you hugs as I am sure moving your
Mom that distance and into a different living situation was hard for
you and her.

Pam, thanks for your kind's been way harder than I expected, even though I am in total agreement with my siblings that it's the right thing to do. It does mean I will likely be visiting 4-5 times a year for long weekends (4-5 days) and I plan to perfect traveling with just a personal item.

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Costco sometimes carries jean jackets that are softer and more flexible than my Levi’s jean jacket. I have traveled with mine, but I’m thinking about picking one up at Costco when they carry them again specifically for travel. The sleeves are generally too long for me, so I roll them up a little.