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Packing Tips for a BIG Trip!

Anyone that knows me well knows if I’m not at an airport every few weeks, I start to shake from withdrawal. Simply put, I love to travel!

I just returned from an amazing two weeks in The Netherlands and Belgium. I want to share some of my top packing trips to make your next vacation as stress free as possible.

Packing Cubes

This is my favorite packing tip. You can find these at Bed, Bath or Beyond, Amazon, or When I first started using them, they literally changed my travel life. When I pack, I lay everything out in categories: underwear, socks, t-shirts, dress shirts, pants, and shoes. Then place each category together in a packing cube. This will make unpacking super easy and everything stays together neatly.

On cruise ships, you may not have a lot of drawer space and might just have a shelf. You can just unzip the packing cube and it will serve, as it’s own little drawer, and just pull from there throughout your vacation.

Zip Lock Bags

I never leave home with a zip lock bag filled with zip lock bags!! Place anything you even think might leak in it’s own little zip lock. Always bring a few larger bags for anything that might be wet or even shoes that might be dirty. When I travel internationally, you end up with lots of coins. These go in it’s own zip lock. If you’re traveling for business, put your pens and other items like flash drives or paper clips in one little zip lock. (Your pens may leak so this protects everything else in your suitcase or backpack). I tend to buy new toiletries when I travel like mouthwash. These will be open once you travel and will need a zip lock for the return trip.

Passport Copy

If you are traveling internationally, you really should lock your passport up in the safe at your hotel or cruise ship. However, you may need this information if you “miss the boat” or shop and want to get the VAT tax returned to you. Here are two tips for making sure you always have your passport info. Make two copies of your passport. Leave one at home (just in case you lose it during your travels) and put one in your backpack or briefcase. Next, take a picture of your passport and save it on your phone. This way you will always have the info with you either hard copy or a photo and you can use the photo when making a big purchase abroad to get the V.A.T. returned at the airport. The store will need the information when you buy your treasures.

Small Carry-On Bags vs. Large Bags

I’m really attached to my morning routine in the bathroom so I don’t love travel sizes as I want my face soap, my cologne, and my face creams to go with me. So I’m not a fan of carry on bags.

Plus, you never really know how far you have to walk carrying all of your bags. On my recent trip to Amsterdam, I took the train from the airport into the city centre as it left right from baggage claim and it was a 5-10 min walk from the train station to my hotel. And, it was only 5 Euros (vs. 50 Euros for a taxi)! I’d rather spend money on food and shopping. So you want to consolidate with one large bag and one backpack if possible.

I like a medium/large duffel with good wheels. Even at 50 pounds (usually the checked bag limit), I can easily wheel it while carrying my backpack. You start your trip with only your duffel and a carry on backpack. LL Bean has some really durable duffels at very good prices that will last you years. (And you just throw in your packing cubes and you’re ready to go).

You may be afraid to check and if so, go with the carry on but make sure you can wheel everything you are taking for more than a few steps. After getting off the plane, it can be a far walk to customs so plan accordingly. I know there is always a risk of a bag being lost, but most airline apps now have alerts that tell you your bag has been loaded or sent to baggage claim. Also, you can purchase baggage insurance for as little as $5 (and they will reimburse you $500 if your bag doesn’t show up in 4 days).

Hand Sanitizer/Wipes

One thing that can really ruin a trip is getting sick. If you travel a lot, you can’t help but notice every single sneeze or cough. Any place that has a lot of people in a small space offers lots of opportunities to pass around germs. There is a reason they make you wash your hands all over cruise ships. They really do their best to stop the spread of illness.

Before you leave, buy a few bottles of hand sanitizer and some disinfecting wipes. When you board the plane, don’t worry about looking like a clean freak. Wipe down your tray table (these are rarely cleaned), your seat, the TV screen (if you are lucky to have one), and your arm rests.

Wash your hands throughout your flight and your trip as often as possible. This will really help in preventing you getting sick on your vacation.

In your hotel room or cruise ship cabin, wipe the TV remote first. Do not use the glasses in the bathroom and again, continue to wash your hands with either soap/water or your hand sanitizer (that you will carry everywhere!)

Laundry Bag

Nice hotels will provide a laundry bag in the closet so I’ve accumulated quite a collection. On our recent R Family Vacation, we gave everyone a cotton laundry bag with our logo as a gift. Again, another travel game changer. Put your dirty laundry in the bag throughout your trip. Many cruise ships have washers so you may be able to do laundry during your vacation. But if not, this will make unpacking a breeze. Upon your return home, you just pull out the dirty laundry bag to go directly in the washer, and then everything in your categorized packing cubes will be easy to just put away quickly.

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