Stress-Free Travel Packing

Are you taking the trip of a lifetime soon? Or visiting family and friends? Either way, summer is a great time to travel. Traveling conjures up images of relaxing, seeing memorable sites and getting away from everyday pressures. Waiting until close to departure time to plan what you will take can make getting ready and packing very stressful. We’ve put together a plan for you that takes the stress out of packing.

Two or three weeks before your departure date, start a Master Packing List. Keep this list with you so you can add to it in the weeks before your trip. 
Where will you be traveling? Are you camping or cruising or something in between? What kind of weather do you expect? Your answers to these questions will guide you to pack only what you need and leave out what you don’t. 

Write your Packing List, starting with the basics for any trip. Save your list to your computer so you have it for future trips. As you make your Packing List, jot down things to buy before you travel.

Your list will include the following categories and maybe a couple others. You can also check out NBOC’s printable Stress-Free Packing List on the link at the bottom of the page: 

  • Documents (passports, IDs, boarding pass, reservations, itinerary, etc.)
    Tip: Place the documents in a travel document holder to keep them together and carry them with you. Copy your driver’s license, passport and other IDs to leave with family or friends in case of loss. Include copies of prescriptions for medications and glasses.

  • Toiletries (toothbrush/paste, hair products/brush/comb, make-up, lotions, deodorant, sun screen, etc.)
    Tip: Get the travel-size 3.4 oz. containers if you are carrying these onto a plane. You can always buy personal items in stores along the way. 

  • Health /Wellness (medicines & vitamins, prescription glasses, first aid kit, hand sanitizer, etc.)
    Tip: Be sure to carry enough of your prescription medications to cover all the days of your trip.

  • Technology (cell phone, tablet, lap top, e-reader, etc.)
    Tip: Take the appropriate chargers, cables, batteries and cords. Keep them together in a small zippered pouch or plastic bag. You may need a power adapter(s) if you are traveling out of the country. Check with your cell phone provider about overseas travel.

  • Other Basics (Cash/credit cards, money belt, watch, spare glasses, sunglasses, camera, travel games/projects, keys, snacks, journal/book, laundry kit, extra plastic bags, etc.)
    Plastic bags of different sizes come in handy if one of your bottles of liquid gets damaged or if you need to pack a wet bathing suit. 


As you decide what clothing and accessories to bring, remember that clothes and shoes add to the weight of your luggage. Nothing makes traveling more unwieldy than having too many suitcases or lugging and dragging heavy ones. You can wash clothes along the way. We recommend the following amounts whether your trip is for two weeks or two months.
  • 2 pairs of shorts/capris 
  • 2 pair of pants (one dressy and one casual) 
  • 1 skirt or dress (optional) 
  • 5-6 shirts or tops (long/short-sleeved) 
  • 5 pairs of underwear 
  • 2 bras (one to pack and one to wear) 
  • 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes (wear another pair on the plane) 
  • 1 pair of sandals 
  • Flip flops to wear as hotel slippers or at the beach 
  • 5 pairs of socks 
  • Belt (optional) 
  • 1- 2 sweaters or fleeces for layering 
  • Vest for layering (optional) 
  • Windbreaker with hood 
  • Hat for sun or warmth 
  • Rain-gear
  • Scarf, tie, shawl or sarong (optional) for an extra layer or cover up in churches 
  • Sleepwear 
  • Swimsuit 
  • Day-pack or purse with cross-over strap 
  • Jewelry, minimal 

What to take? What to take? Try this - spread out your possible choices on a bed. Try on everything and use the list above as a guide. Pack solid-colored pants and a variety of different colored tops or shirts to create outfits. Scarves, ties, jewelry and sweaters can change the look from casual to dressy. Comfort is very important when traveling. Are all your choices comfortable and easy to wear?


Tip #1: Choose clothes that wash and dry quickly & don’t require ironing  

Tip #2: Bring layers rather than a heavy coat.

Tip #3: Wear your heaviest pair of shoes on the plane, if you are flying.

Tip #4: Leave expensive jewelry or anything with sentimental value at home.

Tip #5: For women going on a beach vacation, take a sarong or large scarf. The Sarong/scarf can be useful as a bathing suit cover-up, a skirt, a picnic cloth or as an extra layer to keep you warm.


The surest way to avoid wrinkles is rolling your clothes and packing them tight. Then add a layer of folded items, if needed. The finishing touch is to tuck a dry-cleaner bag across the top of all the clothes. The plastic will help keep away the wrinkles too.

It’s easy to keep categories separated with packing cubes, mesh bags or packing folders. You’ll save a little extra space by putting socks or underwear inside shoes too.

Make sure that your carry-on bag includes medicines, one change of clothing (in case of delay), tooth brush/paste, documents, a charging cord for your phone or tablet as most planes have outlets now, a neck pillow and a shawl to use as a blanket.

It’s helpful to pack your Master Packing List to check that you’re not leaving anything behind! Check out NBOC’s printable “Stress-Free Travel Packing List” for suggestions and watch the “How to Pack Like a Pro” video for great tips. See the links below.


This post was created by the following NBOC members:
Ruth Hansell of Clutter Demolition

Jillian Stocks of Jillian Stocks Organizing
Donna Roses of Donna Declutter