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Ugh! Clothes are not the problem!!!

I'm starting to pack for Spain, and while I have the clothes thing down pretty well, it's everything else that does me in on traveling light. By the time I add some laundry supplies, first aid supplies, toiletries (liquid 3-1-1), non liquid toiletries and supplies (stick sunscreen, deodorant, etc.), OTC medications, and prescription medications, I can easily have another 6 to 7 pounds of seemingly insignificant but somewhat necessary stuff. This doesn't even count the stuff in my personal item like camera gear, kindle, etc. (prescription meds also in personal item). We hate to skimp too much on the OTC meds as we had major problems trying to find good OTC medication for chest congestion when we were in Amsterdam. We needed Mucinex, whose parent company has a headquarters in Amsterdam, but couldn't get it.

How do you all handle all the extra stuff and still travel light?

Posted by
9706 posts

Oh gosh...I SO understand!

Yes, I learned not to skimp on what "my" essential OTC meds are on my first trip to Italy. I try to spread things out a bit. I have the OTC meds split a bit between my crossbody purse/personal item and my suitcase and try to put them in the small ziplock bags from Michaels instead of the original boxes or bottles. I do leave them in the blisterpacks.

I have finally concluded that I just go with what I need. I've gotten to the point I check my bag. It's a 22" that I can handle on my own with no problem on trains, etc.

In fact, getting ready to start packing for a trip the end of September and my bag looks almost full with no clothes in it yet, lol!!

Posted by
1323 posts

stick sunscreen, deodorant

Be careful, I know stick deodorant fits in with the items required to be in your 3-1-1 bag (yes, I found a 0.5 oz deodorant stick that lasted 1 month and fit easily in my 3-1-1 bag). I do not know about stick sunscreen.

Posted by
21065 posts

I start my (long) trips with about 6 lb. of medically-necessary pills. I don't want to fool with sourcing important supplements in Europe and paying a lot more for them. However, calcium is very heavy, and I really should consider carrying just one month's worth.

One thing I do is put the pills in bottles of just the right size, and as the trip progresses, I start throwing away the largest bottles, combining pills in shared containers as necessary.

I work very hard to keep toiletries to a minimum, using hotel freebies, switching to solid conditioner and calculating usage rates very carefully. I make sure not to start out with too large a tube of toothpaste, for example.

All I take for laundry is about 1/4 cup of powdered detergent. I use leftover shampoo or body wash whenever possible.

I try to stick to lightweight suitcases, which can make a noticeable difference from Day 1 of the trip. I also make sure my clothes weigh as little as possible, given the climates I have to be prepared for.

Posted by
6871 posts

How long is your trip? Have you tried to pare down on the "supplies" and anything not absolutely essential? You can get laundry, first aid kit, sunscreen, and other commodities anywhere - these are not unique to the US. I'd start by looking at what's absolutely not replaceable (probably only prescriptions).

Posted by
3304 posts

Full disclosure: I am not of the carry on only mind frame. (I could use a couple of more inflammatory descriptors , but I’ll refrain.). However, looking at your list, a couple of things come to mind. “Laundry supplies.” Are you thinking hand wash or laundromat? For the former, the shampoo and bath gel provided by hotels work just fine. I believe they may be actually have the same active ingredients.
Concerning laundromats, most have coin-op detergent dispensers. I have even encountered facilities in which the tariff for a load included an automatically dispensed detergent. No need to bring either.
You are correct about otc meds. If they are available at all, they are sold only in pharmacies, and the prices are outlandish. I count out the number needed for ones I take daily, and try to estimate a reasonable number for others.

First aid supplies: I take some bandaids of different sizes, and a travel size Neosporin. Practically weightless. Not sure what else you think you need to bring; but this is one category that would be readily available, maybe even from your hotel.

Posted by
5547 posts

I take what I want to take and don’t travel light. If I did, it would be typical that the items that I left behind would be those that I needed!

Posted by
72 posts

I totally understand the dilemma. Honestly, I cannot get all my stuff into one carryon bag + personal item. Too may skin allergies, so I have to bring all my special bath/shampoo/laundry/deodorant products, and cannot buy anything at my destinations. It is what it is. I want to travel, so I deal with it.

When I travel "light", I carry on one bag + personal item (small daypack/backpack) and I check one carry-on size bag with the other half of my wardrobe & shoes (which are the items I can afford to lose and never see again). So far, I've had good luck. YMMV

I've never put stick deodorant in my 3-1-1 bag. It's not a liquid.

Posted by
4462 posts

I’m traveling in France right now, relaxing in my room so packing is fresh in my mind. I purposely have four 1- night stops on this trip, so I’m counting anything I purchase as also added weight.

If you really want to go light, think about the minimum size, smallest container or even if it’s essential. The laundry comment immediate came to mind. I switched to a Crystal deodorant a year ago that actually works! I buy the travel size on Amazon. Liquid foundation goes into a teeny makeup sample jar, etc.

Think about the trade offs and you decide what works best for you. For instance, I love photography, but I only bring my iPhone and have had some very nice photos.

Enjoy Spain!

Posted by
706 posts

I would take Mucinex, 3 oz Woolite, and a tide pen, and maybe a weeks supply of ibuprophin, plus just enough of my prescriptions .... Everything else is easy to find in Apoteka/Farmacia/train stations/airports/Etc. Not always cheap necessarily, but.... If all the non-clothes won't fit easily in my "personal item" backpack they stay home. With thousands of pictures of multiple generations of technology sitting in books/boxes - the iPhone comlink/camera and the iPad Mini guidebook library/comlink/camera are my best friends.

Posted by
843 posts

CSjs>> i’m starting to pack for Spain, and while I have the clothes thing down pretty well, it's everything else that does me in on traveling light. By the time I add some laundry supplies, first aid supplies, toiletries (liquid 3-1-1), non liquid toiletries and supplies (stick sunscreen, deodorant, etc.), OTC medications, and prescription medications, I can easily have another 6 to 7 pounds of seemingly insignificant but somewhat necessary stuff. This doesn't even count the stuff in my personal item like camera gear, kindle, etc.<<

You cannot scrimp on anything, especially meds and OTCs, that you either need or know you cannot buy locally. Anything you snort, drop, or rub into your belly can probably be obtained locally but you cannot be sure it won’t irritate your skin or cause unpleasant reactions.

But you can carefully evaluate and quantize your projected needs. You do not need Costco-sized containers of anything. All of your cosmetics and OTCs can be repackaged so you use it all and don’t bring anything back with you. For instance, you only need just barely enough sunscreen to last the trip. And there are some items, like vitamins and all those weird supplements (we think actually do something), that you could probably live without for a few days if you ran or did not even bother to haul along.

If you have the time to experiment—to make sure your scalp and skin will tolerate them—you can find nicely scented hard bars that are skin cleanser/shampoo combinations. This does not count as a liquid/gel. There are many such products that can simplify your cosmetic load.

Your other stuff? You pare it down with objective scrutiny: avoid the more outrageous “just in case” junk, eliminate needless duplication between the two of you, discard stuff you’ve taken in the past but have never used.

You can do it.

Posted by
9706 posts

"Everything else is easy to find in Apoteka/Farmacia/train stations/airports/Etc"

Sorry...not my experience. Specifically thinking PeptoBismol tabs and Immodium. I also want an allergy pill that I know will relieve my symptoms and not make me sleepy without having to try various products.

Posted by
2644 posts

How do you all handle all the extra stuff and still travel light?

I have redefined my goal as traveling "lighter" rather than "light."

Which I am doing by reducing quantities to a minimum and finding the smallest, lightest weight containers. I'll use generic hotel gel for shampoo and bring my own conditioner. But I won't forego those things that have ruined past vacations - not having a few-day supply of cold meds, for example, so that I don't have to wait until morning when I'm willing to find a pharmacy.

Hand lotion, on the other hand, I like to buy at my destination. My Czech hand lotion is one of my favorite "souvenirs!" Even at that, I still have to carry it around with me as my trips are usually multi-destination.

I'm hoping I won't have to check a bag on the way out. I'll happily check a bag on the return.

Posted by
844 posts

This was my big problem on our last trip (three weeks). I’m definitely paring down the misc. stuff for next trip. I didn’t use ANY of the misc stuff (first aid, sewing kit, etc). This time I’m bringing a small pill box organizer with the “just in case” OTC meds: cold/cough, Tylenol, Tylenol PM, pepto, allergy, etc. I also put together an“emergency” kit using a softsided zippered sunglasses case: bandaids, wet wipes, moleskin (pre-cut), tweezers, tiny bottle of Tylenol, a few cough drops, tiny eyeglass repair kit. That stays in my day bag.

My mom was very sensitive to medicines, and she came down with a terrible cough in Paris. We went to the pharmacy and she got cough medicine that was more effective than anything she ever got in the US, without many of her normal side effects. Every time she got a cough after that she asked if we could go back to Paris and get her that good cough medicine!

I would test pack. Then, systematically analyze all you have. For example - is there one pair of socks or one shirt that can be eliminated? Can you get a smaller version of something like deodorant? Get the mini- pill zip locks at Walgreen's - near the pill organizers. (About $5 for a package of many tiny plastic bags.). Then, put your pills in these tiny bags and mark with a fine sharpie's pen. Is there an extra pair of footwear that can be left at home? I wear black "hiking" type sandals. No other footwear. This reduces a lot of weight. Eliminates socks as well. Laundry - take detergent sheets or pods - only what you need. Anyway - you get the idea. Can the kindle be eliminated or is your travel book on it? Electronics are heavy.

Posted by
3186 posts
  1. I just got a Voyager jacket from Magellan with 15 pockets that will hold my OTC meds, kindle, non-liquid toiletries, glasses.

  2. Travel Fashion Girl has a list of solid toiletries. I plan to try the shampoo and maybe the Clinique foundation stick.

  3. I get Tide Sport packets from Amazon. They're really flat.

  4. What kind of first aid supplies are you talking about? Bandaids, moleskin and anti-diarrheal tablets don't take up much space.

  5. Are you sure the camera on your phone isn't good enough? I know there are die-hard camera people, but awhile back there was a thread on this forum from a professional photographer who said he often only takes his iPhone on trips.

  6. I have a Tom Bihn Tristar(33 L) and can pack for a week in that, my jacket and a personal item, and the backpack will only weigh 13-15 pounds.

Posted by
503 posts

I travel carry-on only and I bring a mirrorless camera, lenses, strap, bag as well as an iPad, kindle, etc.
Everyone's "toiletry needs" are different -, especially for women! So, to give you an example, here's what I pack: facewash, liquid meds (1 for day and 1 for night), moisturizer, tinted sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling goop, toothpaste, lip balm (not solid), hand creme, sunscreen, and/or lotion, wrinkle release, a decongestant (liquid), a couple packs of antibiotic creme and laundry soap - it all fits in a 3-1-1 bag easily. The KEY is knowing how much you need for the time you are traveling! So, how to do this:
Take your travel bottles and fill them with all your liquids. Then use ONLY those bottles until the contents run out. Keep track of the number of days each bottle lasts.. You'll probably find that the travel bottle lasts much longer than you think - that instead of 2 oz. travel bottle of shampoo, 1 oz. will do just fine for the length of your trip. After you've figured that out, then you can tailor your containers accordingly. Viola - everything fits easily into the 3-1-1 bag!
Yes, it takes a bit of time to figure out,, but once you know the quantities, it's easy to plan for each trip. I've found that most "travel size containers" are too big for my needs so I've searched out smaller ones - 1/4 - 1 oz. seems to be about right for my needs for most trips.
As for OTC medications - I use the really small packing cube - I think it's 8 inches x 4? In it goes blister packs of Nyquil (day & Night) bandaids (various sizes), couple of gauze pads, a small roll of tape, antacid tablets, Alka seltzer, Immodium, a small compartmentalized box for Tylenol, ibuprofen, Tylenol Pm, Benedryl, and a tooth repair kit. After 20 trips, I can say that overall my "first aid/med kit" has worked very well. I view it as not having to cover me for my entire trip, but rather to "tide me over" until I can find the equivalent and I can say it has worked well. I've always been able to find what I've needed, albeit after a bit of research!

As for other medications I bring enough for the trip + 3 extra days which covers me in the- event of a delay plus I bring a copy of my prescriptions for the worst-case scenario.
Have faith, you can do it!!!!

Posted by
164 posts

Agree on the toiletries--you can pack light on those to save space and weight because you can buy all of that stuff over there. Only exception is contact lens cleaner. Sure they may have some, but if your eyes are sensitive like mine, you will want to stick with what they are used to.

Posted by
2644 posts

Agree on the toiletries--you can pack light on those to save space and weight because you can buy all of that stuff over there.

I'm (non-argumentatively) confused by this. If I buy (let's say for discussion) hand lotion in Europe, I now have to carry that hand lotion, and it's probably heavier than the travel sized amount I might have brought from home.

I am thinking of this in the context of my upcoming multi-city trip, during which I'm moving every 4 nights. I want to continue to "travel light" on train and bus travel to my 7 destinations.

Perhaps others are thinking of this in the context of a trip that is a smaller number of destinations? Or perhaps just in the context of the initial 3-1-1 limitation with less concern thereafter?

Posted by
1817 posts

I'm going all carry on next week, for the first time ever.
Normally I've taken everything but the proverbial kitchen sink with me.
For toiletries, I got all the tiniest containers and filled them with my usual face cream, shampoo, etc.
Then, I kept track of how many uses I got out of each container.
They all gave me two weeks and a day or two extra from each one, even toothpaste that I had put into a GoTubb tiny container.
This way, I've been able to get all my toiletries to fit into my 3-1-1 bag.
For soap, I've been saving the small ends of bars we use at home, and letting them dry.
They are loose in my case, (keeps it smelling fresh) and I have 4 or 5; so one for each stop so as not to use an unfamiliar brand.
Dry toiletries ( stick deodorant, stick sunscreen, etc) are tucked in around my clothes, not in pouches, to fit them in better.
I also use the very tiny ziplock bags you can buy in a Dollar Store; they hold everything for pills to jewelry.

You can do it, if I can!

Posted by
5006 posts

Nancy, I like the idea of the smallest packing cube for meds/first aid items. I usually put all that stuff in small baggies, but the cube would keep them all in the same place.

We are fortunate in that we don't take any prescription medications, but we do take a lot of supplements. I also pack quite a few doses of OTC pain killers and anti-inflammatories, having once paid through the nose for aspirin in Florence!

I also don't wear make-up, and seem to have outgrown (or outlived!) most skin allergies, so I can use hotel shampoo, which I also use as laundry soap for sink washing.

Thanks to all for the tips.

Posted by
1878 posts

I guess you could buy stuff at your destination and have extra containers (like a plastic bag) to carry it around, but I tend to agree that you still have to carry it during the trip. So, the only thing this approach seems to buy you is it helps you "pack light" for the plane ride itself while making it less convenient to carry that stuff in a separate container on the train, etc. Plus, you spend half a day trying to track down the items you failed to bring with you.

I have a lot of dental work (crowns), and for me dental hygiene items are a necessity. I go through about a liter mouthwash and about a third of a bottle of fluoride rinse on a two-week trip. Do they have these things in Europe, sure, but the formulas might be different and I don't want to spend hours looking for them. I hope to find the right container to take only the required amount of fluoride rinse, but have not found it yet. My Sonicare toothbrush with charger is a necessity as well.

My last trip I took a Kindle Fire along with my phone and camera, but I did not find myself using the tablet a lot so may leave it home next time. My camera is just a basic point and shoot but I am nowhere near giving that up to rely on my phone.

I travel with a 22" bag that I always check, and electronics and non-liquid, not clothes items come with my on the plane in a day pack that I used as a carry on. Socks and underwear go into packing cubes in the checked bag. The worst is an extra pair of shoes because they take up a lot of space in the checked bag, but I need to switch out shoes occasionally or my feet end up hurting. A jacket comes with me in the plane cabin too, I have given up on also bringing a sweater. When I used to take one, I rarely wore it and they take up a lot of space. Nike dri-fit socks, or wool socks are good for multiple wearings and this saves space. Likewise, Ex Oficio quick dry underwear are good for multiple wearings between washing without feeling grungy.

My last trip I actually overpacked my checked bag and it created a lot of stress as every time I moved I had to fit it all back in the bag. It's great traveling with a small bag because you can only pack it to a little over 30 lbs. Much easier for carrying up stairs or hoisting overhead on the train. But you do have to be careful not to overpack it. I usually keep the "extra" space allowed by unzipping the expandable compartment in reserve upon departure just to be safe.

Posted by
21065 posts

I agree with CWSocial about the frequently-offered suggestion to just buy your toiletries upon arrival. I'm sure that started as a way for the carry-on-only crowd to get around the 3-1-1 limitation, and for them it is an excellent solution.

For the rest of us it is rarely helpful. Unless you have products you'll need rather a lot of and are certain you can easily obtain the right size bottles (or multiple small bottles) in Europe, you're obviously going to be toting a lot more weight than if you packed just the right quantity in the first place. Sometimes bulk is an issue, too, and there's always dead space in toiletry bottles (and OTC pill bottles) when you buy them. By transferring just the right amount of the product to a bottle of just the right size, you minimize both weight and bulk.

Tip for other obsessed travelers on long trips: If you need more than one container of dental floss, remove the extra rolls from their cases and discard the cases. Insert Roll 2 on your single case when Roll 1 runs out.

Something I learned recently from a friend: There's still a lot of product left in a tube (toothpaste, expensive cosmetics, etc.) when you can't squeeze anything else out. Cut the tube open and you'll have several more applications of the product.

Two things that I have found useful in packing light. I buy contact lens cases in bulk and use them for things I only need tiny amounts of or that I only need tiny amounts of in my personal item bag. I keep one morning of meds for both my husband and me in one in my purse in case we find ourselves off hiking having forgotten to take them. I use them for dabs of things I might need on the plane - moisturizer, concealor, etc.

The other thing is using dry bags from Walmart instead of packing cubes for meds and laundry supplies. They contain leaks. I take a large one for the laundry supplies and do my laundry in it if the sink is not usable. You can close it up, soak the clothes and roll it around to agitate the clothes. The excess folds up into nothing while packed.

I also like those tiny pill ziplocks.

Solid deodorant and sunscreen do not have to go in the 3-1-1 bags. Only gels and liquids. Gel caps do not have to go in the bag either.

Posted by
14905 posts

That's the reason I always check a bag. Especially traveling solo, I don't have anyone to divvy up the necessities with. It's easier for me to have a half-empty suitcase to pack quickly and to live out of as needed. Having to buy any supplies on landing just creates stress and wastes time. It's bad enough when you need to and everything's in a foreign language and often you don't even know which store to go to for what you need.

I always pack what I need for the first 48 hours on the ground in my carry-on.

Chani,
I agree with what you said and your advice. I want to tweak one of your comments just a little. The part about stress in looking for things and wasting time. Not knowing where to go to purchase certain things and trying to avoid over-priced tourist traps can, indeed, be stressful.
Here's another way to look at it. I like to use my travel time well. But, it's also good to factor in a little "down time." It can be a fun adventure to "waste" a little time. I find I enjoy just taking a random stroll and identifying stores/restaurants/laundry. Sometimes - looking for something at a grocery store, doing laundry, or other can be fun. It gives me a chance to interact with the locals in a casual manner. "Go local."
One time - I walked into a hair salon and got a haircut. The stylist and I had fun trying to communicate. She had me stand for the entire haircut while she walked around me, interesting technique. It was fun. Not expensive and I got a nice, new look.
Another time I went into a bank. I had to stand in a rotating plexiglass tube before I could enter. Another interesting experience.
So, some of these "mundane" experiences can be memorable and fun. Go ahead - stretch yourself out a bit and "waste" a little time.

Posted by
6633 posts

Only you can decide what you absolutely must have with you, or what you can compromise on. I can't picture 6-7 pounds of personal care products, OTC meds, and laundry supples - that's about 1/2 pound of stuff you presumable use per day! Thats also about a third of the weight limit some airlines allow in carryon. I understand some people have special needs or issues they need to deal with. Checking a bag is not a crime.

My toiletry bag with weighs about 8 ounces, sometimes less. I take travel sized items and OTC meds in minimal unpackaged blister packs (tablets - not liquid pepto, for example). Other stuff I can find there (like foot powder, detergent, etc.) only when I need them - often the same brands as you see here. Its no hardship and it doesn't take hours of shopping - I have to go somewhere to buy cookies, diet coke and some chocolate anyway.

I thought the major point of traveling light was to be able to get by with carryon bags for the flight. Once you're off the plane, light is still good, but volume is no longer an issue. Yes you still have to carry locally bought products around, but they also sell small packages there, and you can manage usage to minimize how much you need. The stuff gets used up as you travel. You might even find some local products that you like.

Posted by
250 posts

I'm not really a "light" packer (my problem is shoes, I MUST have several pair of shoes, non-negotiable) But I wouldn't think pills would add up to much. I'm carrying Advil, Dramamine and Prilosec for the hubs, but that doesn't amount to 2 oz, much less 6 lbs someone else mentioned! First aid kit consists of a few bandaids, gauze, and antibiotic ointment (in case you get blisters or a cut while you're out and about and don't want to buy a whole box of bandaids at a pharmacy.) Again, just a couple of ounces.

"Laundry supplies" for me are a Tide pen for stains, a 3 oz bottle of all purpose detergent and a clothes line. That could all fit in a sandwich sized Ziploc bag. This is all you need for washing undies along the way, and when you need to do a heavier load of laundry, find a laundromat.

I have a feeling that all my OTC medication, first aid, and laundry supplies don't add up to ONE pair of shoes!

Posted by
250 posts

@ acraven

Something I learned recently from a friend: There's still a lot of
product left in a tube (toothpaste, expensive cosmetics, etc.) when
you can't squeeze anything else out. Cut the tube open and you'll have
several more applications of the product.

It surprises me that you "recently learned" this. It never occurred to me to throw out any tube of a product without cutting it open and getting out several more uses. (Okay, toothpaste I don't bother, but hair products, moisturizers, lotions, and face washes absolutely.) No way could I throw out a tube knowing there is an ounce of two of usable product left inside!

Once you cut it in half, you can push the bottom half over the top half to store it and keep it from drying out until you use it up. I've always done this and figured everyone else did as well!

Posted by
9706 posts

"Tip for other obsessed travelers on long trips: If you need more than one container of dental floss, remove the extra rolls from their cases and discard the cases. Insert Roll 2 on your single case when Roll 1 runs out."

Acraven! I did NOT know this! I am a flosser but even if you get a new big spool of floss the cases are usually much bigger than needed. I do have at least 2 containers of floss with me - one in my purse, one in my suitcase but I had not thought of taking the guts out of one. I'm almost to the end of a roll so I'll give it a try!

Posted by
73 posts

One thing that helped me was to buy a gross of very, very small plastic bags ( way smaller than snack size baggies) at the Container Store. It was less bulk to pack pills in and then put all these little bags in one gallon ziplock bag. Putting makeup and other toiletries into the smallest travel type containers helped also. As others said, shopping for the travel size sample products.

If you are part of a fast paced tour, I find I don't have time or energy to go to a drugstore for something I left at home. If I was traveling to one place and staying awhile, that advice might work (to buy what you need there).

On a different note, my pet peeve is going without my travel hair dryer. I really want to take it, but just would have to make room leaving out something else and people say they don't work well anyway in Europe (might short out??). I did not like the dryers in Europe hotel rooms where you have to keep your thumb depressing the button to keep it in the ON position and they weren't very powerful either. Too much hassle when drying my hair using a round brush. Ah, vanity!

Posted by
250 posts

@ kaydee

One thing I like about France (and I hope it's the same way in Italy) is that women don't have the same "done" hair as most American women. At least the last time I was there in 2015, they didn't have blown out hair, it mostly looked naturally tousled like it had air dried. And that is how I wear my hair because I hate fussing with it and I never use a blow dryer. I was in my element! I'd take the extra pair(s) of shoes and leave the hair dryer behind every time. ;)

Posted by
14905 posts

Kaydee - I use those small snack bags for lots of small stuff - coins when going through security and separating them by currency, camera accessories (spare battery, SD cards, lens cloth), any small things that I can keep together to find them easily. Most of them have the opening on the wide side. The ones Target sells have the opening on the short side, which is much easier to use.

Sun-baked - I love to wander through shops in foreign countries. You're right, it's fun and interesting. But if you really need something right away, especially after a long-haul, probably red-eye, flight, it's stressful. For instance, I found out the hard way that nail polish remover is sold in Spain in supermarkets but not in pharmacies, and in Austria it's only sold in shops specializing in beauty products. And it's often hard to find travel sizes and they are usually way over-priced.

Posted by
4462 posts

“What is most interesting, on vacation I do not use half of the clothes that I take with me, it remains in the suitcase. Why I do this all the time, I don't understand.”

I’ll admit I’m an obsessed organizer. Part of my job was helping teams of people organize their work environment for maximum efficiency, so I know people can do it, maintain it, see the value.

I select four outfits that I’m going to rotate during the trip - gives plenty of time to wash them. While planning, I write down each day and the main activity planned for the day in rows. I write the four outfits in columns. Then I place an “x” in each cell that shows what I will wear each day. So for instance, a day of biking will be capris, museums or churches I like to wear a dress. I move the “x”’s until I like the overall plan. It is SO easy to get ready each morning since I already know what I’ll be wearing. I do have a couple of nice blouses or I can wear one of the dresses for evenings. This lets me concentrate on the fun of the vacation, and packing is a breeze since I don’t have a lot of stuff.

Posted by
216 posts

I have finally figured out the toiletries but not the clothes! I believe someone has mentioned this BUT I filled my travel containers and document a start date. After 16 days I was able to see approximately how much of each items I truly need. My toiletries can break me as I have horrible allergies to perfumes and dyes. I have even had a MAJOR attack with towels that were washed in something other than my detergent.

BTW what are the local department stores to buy items in Scotland. Like toothpaste, shaving cream, towels and such?

Posted by
16 posts

I agree that it is often the non clothing items that are overwhelming. I take a small first aid kit, a small laundry kit, a small make-up kit, my 3-1-1 bag, my non liquid toiletries, my electronics (smartphone, iPad mini, chargers, cords, plug adapters, power brick, and sometimes need to carry my laptop for work). I spend around 2 hours distilling my liquids into smaller containers. I track my consumption of toiletries in advance so i know how little I need. I also take a journal, pens, eye mask, small umbrella, handfan (menopausal hot flashes), antibacterial wipes, and I need eye glasses and prescription sunglasses. It all adds up!!!

Posted by
861 posts

Robintruselli, you are like my husband....only traveling at home. I used to be like that, my luggage was always 50lbs, with more stuff in my carryon duffle. Then we went to Italy, 4 cities in 10 days and I was bound and determined we would do carryon!

I think my DH just doesn’t want to take the time and feels a little overwhelmed trying to figure out what he wants to wear each day, so he brings a whole bunch of combinations.

Anyway, my RS rolling 2 wheel came in and I laughed and looked at it for a week. I think I did pretty good, but will do even better this trip in September. My suitcase was stuffed. I find that I enjoy dresses much more now than skirts. So for this trip, 3 cities. I will wear 3 day dresses in one city, then repeat in the others. I will take 3 evening outfits (jumpsuit, maxi dresses) and do the same. I might throw in something else for a “just in the mood” dress. That’s 7 dresses for 9 days.

I love clothes, love shopping. But we have to be able to carry and lift our bags on the train, I tell you, traveling like this was liberating! I don’t like to do it necessarily to do much, but when I did it, it was great.

OP, same issue as you. All my other stuff far outweighs my clothing in weight and bulk. I take my big curling iron and round brush which add bulk. I’m also going to try to take my mirror. It seems I hate the light in most bathrooms and like to put on my makeup at a desk out in the room....plus, it frees up the bathroom for DH.

Posted by
7597 posts

I always pack what I need for the first 48 hours on the ground in my carry-on.

Yes ! As Chani said, this is so important!

I am definitely with the OP in having my “stuff” take up much more than my clothes. I do all the stuff about decanting, using the smallest possible bottles, etc. For me it’s more the paperwork and reading material. (No matter how many books I have on my Kindle, i always seem to NEED a physical boon or two, and I looooove magazines.

But who was it said they spent 2 hours decanting their toiletries??!!

Posted by
3620 posts

To save space / weight we use zip-lock bags for prescription meds. The pharmacist prints extra labels we put on the bags. We take the original data sheets that come with the Rx with us to show it is for us. The same can be done with OTC meds simply by transferring the label. We've been to many European countries and have never had a problem. Some American states require prescription meds be in original containers but those laws are rarely enforced. I only remember reading about one case in the last 20 years. If you are taking high powered narcotic type meds you might want to keep those in the original container -- along with the original data sheet that comes with the med of course.

Posted by
1179 posts

But who was it said they spent 2 hours decanting their toiletries??!!

You do realize that you only have to do that once. After that it’s just refilling for the next trip. That takes minutes.

Posted by
11288 posts

I have redefined my goal as traveling "lighter" rather than "light."

Words to live by! Minimize as much as you can, but don't deny yourself something you need just to meet someone else's standard of "proper" travel packing.