Holidays are times to de-stress- not get stressed! Take off some of that stress by with this handy guide featuring what to pack for your summer vacation.
At this time of year, thoughts turn to travel. Whether it’s across the state, or to another country, a vacation is a great way to simplify, de-stress, and embrace a slower, more intentional life.
The best laid plans, however, can be derailed by holiday preparation – and in this case, by your packing list, which can cause a large amount of stress all by itself.
I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy travel to some beautiful, sunny climes and have gotten pretty good at packing only what is needed.
Therefore here I have my packing list for a summer vacation – one that can be easily adapted for each member of your family.
ITEMS FOR TRAVEL
The first thing to consider is items for travel. There’s one word that sums this up – and that is comfort.
The second word, particularly if you are flying any distance by air, is warmth. Planes get incredibly cold and it can be super hard to sleep when you’re all tensed up with shivering.
For flights in particular, I recommend you wear:
- A long sleeved t-shirt
- Soft pants with an elasticated waist
- Flat, covered shoes
In your carry on you should have near the top:
- An outer warm layer (cardigan, jacket, or jumper)
- Slipper boots (to put on as soon as you get in the plane)
- A lightweight throw
- A neck pillow
- An empty bottle
Last year when we went to Thailand, we never for a second considered that water on the flight would be an issue.
However the only water available was water for sale.
We discovered to our horror that our debit card was not accepted by the airline. We were already a couple of hours in and had long ago drunk our beverage with our meal. Our mouths were literally getting dryer by the second.
In the end, I called the hostess, and lied to her I had to take some medication, and begged for some water. My husband and I nursed that lukewarm offering like it was nectar from the gods.
We never made that mistake again, and took in empty bottles in our carry on for the return trip that we filled up once we had gone through security.
A BASIC CAPSULE WARDROBE
Before you start packing, there’s a couple of things to keep in mind.
First: Keep a restricted color palette: three colors at the most. You want to be able to mix and match as much as possible.
Second: Aim for clothes that don’t need ironing.
Third: Pick clothes that meet the double feel good factor: They feel good on, and they make you feel good.
My basic capsule wardrobe for a summer vacation would be:
- Underwear for every day up to five days (any trip longer than that, you should be laundering your clothes)
- Plain bras (black, beige, white)
- Three pairs of socks
- Swimsuit (two if swimming every day or multiple times a day is likely)
- Kaftan or other cover up – IF you normally wear one, not just because you have visions of a stylish you lounging on a deck chair by the pool.
- Three bottoms – denim shorts are a must as they go with everything.
- Five tops (mix of tee shirts and tanks)
- Three warmer layers
- One or two dresses for more “formal” occasions IF you think this is likely and it suits your destination
- Shoes: No more than three pairs selected from the following, depending on your planned activities:
- Mid-height heels
CLOTHES THAT MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF PLANNED ACTIVITIES
As well as the above, it’s important to also check out whether any of the activities you have planned require specific outfits.
In the same Thailand trip that I mentioned above, we traveled to some temples. One rule of the Buddhist temples is that your shoulders must be covered, so having a top with sleeves was essential.
Other places, like theme parks, have guidelines on what you can wear, though personally I don’t think anyone reading this blog is going to possess clothing with offensive slogans on it, wear ripped or torn clothing, or sport objectionable tattoos (at least – not the ones you can see).
Do some research here, as this can save you a lot of discomfort, if not heartache, later on.
FIRST AID ITEMS
Having a few basic first aid items can make your summer holiday a whole lot more comfortable.
I would suggest packing:
- Diarrhea medication
- Soothing cream for sunburn
- Mosquito repellant
- Any regular medication
Don’t go overboard with your toiletries. You’re there to relax, not stress so much about your appearance.
I pack the following – and note I pack them in their normal containers. None of this decanting stuff. Just make sure none of these things go in your carry-on if they are in containers larger than 100 ml.
- Makeup basics (for me that’s tinted facial sunscreen, mascara and a pink lipstick).
- Body moisturizer
- Shaving foam
- Hairbrush or comb
- Hair ties and clips
- Sanitary supplies
- Dental floss
DOCUMENTATION AND SO ON
I recommend making two copies of all your documentation and having one copy in your carry on luggage and one in your suitcase.
When you get to your hotel, put one copy in your lockable safe.
Documentation to take includes:
- Your passport and any necessary visas
- Two paper copies of your itinerary, including any day trips already booked
- Two paper copies of tickets – just in case
- Print out of Insurance
- Doctor’s letter for any medications
- Bank cards
- Driver’s license
In addition, take a photo using your phone’s camera of your passport and driver’s license.
OTHER MUST HAVES
These other must-haves should go in your carry on:
- Two to three books
Other must-haves are:
- Plastic bags (for dirty laundry)
- Large tote bag (suitable to take to the pool or the beach and to fit towels, sunscreen and so on).
WHAT NOT TO PACK FOR YOUR SUMMER VACATION
No packing list would be complete with a reminder of what you DON’T need to be taking. The following items are usually unnecessary because most hotels or resorts will provide them for you:
- Body wash
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Dressing gown
You also shouldn’t take:
- Expensive or super sentimental jewelry – not only is the risk of losing them great, wearing expensive jewelry may make you a target for thieves
- Magazines – one of the highlights of going to a new place is to check out different versions of magazines
- Overseas currency – it’s so much easier to withdraw from an ATM once you get there. Just check your card will work overseas.
This might seem like a long list, but in reality, these basics will be easily packed. My husband and I took just one large carry on and one suitcase for an eight day trip, and always had everything we needed. We did make the most of the laundry service – in part to make sure we didn’t return home with a whole lot of washing – but the cost of this was way less than the hassle of extra baggage.
Are there any holiday essentials that you think I’ve missed?
Want to try simplifying your normal wardrobe- not just the one you take on holiday? Try Three days to a curated, minimalist wardrobe.
Can’t get away for a long vacay but need some self-care stat? Try How to create your own personal retreat.