suitcasesCan you make do with just a toothbrush and change of underwear or do you need a sherpa to haul your luggage?  Finding the happy medium can enhance your vacation by eliminating the need to drag heavy suitcases over cobblestones or, alternatively, avoid fashioning your pyjama shirt into a minidress after running out of other options.

Packing for a long trip is both exciting and overwhelming.  To avoid taking piles of clothes you will never wear, it is imperative that you spend some serious time considering exactly what you do and do not need.  This should not be done on the day before your departure - I'm not saying that you can't, I'm just suggesting that you shouldn't.

Lay everything you intend on taking on the bed or floor and ensure that you can mix and match all of your outfits.  Can the various colors be easily washed together?  Is there anything that is difficult to launder or something that gets dirty really easily?  Hint - don't take one bright fuschia shirt that you will have to wash separately (unless you don't mind doing that), or white linen pants that shrink after coming in contact with water.  Try everything on to make sure that it fits properly and is comfortable - don't take it if you don't love it… you'll be looking at it in your photo album for the rest of your life!  If you are unsure about an item leave it behind, and if you think that itchy collar or slightly annoying pair of underwear will miraculously change in your suitcase it won't - ditch it!

If you need some ideas of what to pack check the various links below.  Disclaimer - my family generally travels to Europe with nothing more than a carry-on sized suitcase each.  The convenience of being able to get off the plane and not have to wait around for luggage is liberating, and after spending our first overseas trip lugging giant suitcases (filled with things we never used) on and off of trains we vowed we'd never do that again.  It's amazing how little you need if you plan properly.

My general rule of thumb is to have 5 complete outfits (per person) that can be mixed and matched; this requires a small load of laundry to be done every 3 or 4 days.  (I am assuming that you are staying somewhere that has laundry facilities - if you aren't then you will need to wash by hand or pack a lot more!)

Packing Lists;

Women         Toiletries

Men               First Aid Kit

Kids              Helpful Extras

Babies           Entertainment Items



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