Be Happy, Pack Less for a Long Vacation

It's hard to drag a lot of luggage through a picturesque hill town.
It’s hard to drag a lot of luggage through a picturesque hill town.

Lack of vacation time in the U.S. makes taking a long trip challenging for most people. Nowadays “vacations” can be two or three days, up to a week. If you are lucky enough to take a longer vacation – two, three, four weeks or longer, you’re going to need a few tips on packing. You have come to the right place.


That is it. But how? Read on.


What type of vacation are you taking? Will you be doing outdoor activities and need swimwear? Will you need ski clothes? Do any occasions call for dressy clothes or will you be very casual the whole time? Answer these important questions before deciding what to bring.


Wait. What? But I will be away for three weeks Laundry is your friend. Now, I am not suggesting you spend days on end washing clothes. Instead, send them out to a local laundromat. Many cruise ships offer by-the-bag laundry. Sending laundry out will cost you, so be sure to factor laundry into the total budget for the trip. Pack less, launder more.

On an upcoming 18 day trip, I will be taking enough stuff for seven days. That gives me time to do laundry twice and still have plenty of clothes.

Do remember to pack a few extra pair of underwear. You can re-wear your jeans, or in a pinch, a shirt, but undies? No. Please.


One pair of sneakers/running shoes for exercising or a lot of walking, one pair of casual, comfortable shoes and one pair of dressier shoes for evenings. That is usually all you need for a land based trip. For a cruise, you may also need a pair of pool sandals and an extra pair of evening shoes for formal nights (if there is extra room in your bag).


Most hotels and cruise ships offer shampoo, so if you can live without your usual brand, you’ll end up packing less. The same goes for conditioner, soap and lotion. Bring a small tube of toothpaste and pick up another one locally if you run out.


Roll clothing to maximize what will fit. Almost all clothing, except suits and formal dresses, can be rolled. Socks and underwear can get stuffed inside shoes, saving space and keeping the shape of the shoe. Pack a few extra Ziploc bags, you never know when you’ll need them, and they take up no space.

Leave your carry on for medicines, papers, electronics. (Do NOT, under any circumstances, pack your passport or your laptop in a checked bag. Ever.) You may also want to pack a pair of underwear and a t-shirt, in case your suitcase doesn’t show up for a day or two.

Pack less. It will be less to drag around everywhere you go. Do you really care if you are wearing the same shirt in more than one photo? I certainly don’t.