Packing advice from a lapsed world traveler

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It’s been several years since I traveled regularly but I still remember all my tips and tricks for packing well. Besides, I do still have the family beach trip every year and occasional weekend getaways to keep my packing prowess in shape.

Here’s what I do to keep packing from becoming an overwhelming chore:

Consider your luggage.

If you are flying, can you afford the money to check a bag? Or do you need to go carry-on only? When I was traveling regularly, checking one bag was still a free option with most airlines, so I traveled with one checked bag and one small carry-on. Now, if I needed to fly I would most likely choose to go with just a carry-on. When driving to my destination, I still try to keep it to one main bag and one smaller bag.

You’ll also need to consider what type of bag to carry. For trips of a week or more, I prefer a suitcase. For weekends, a duffel bag will do.

Plan out your wardrobe.

Look at your itinerary. Are you spending your days at the beach, and only going out at night? Will you be visiting museums and historic sites? Hiking? Shopping? Once you know what you will be doing each day, it’s easier to plan your wardrobe.

Also, consider your destination. For Egypt, I knew I needed a more modest wardrobe than for my cruise to Hawaii.

Take only clothes that you actually wear.

We all have those clothes in our closets that we think we will wear some day. Resist that temptation to take them with you on vacation. If you don’t wear them at home, you probably won’t wear them while traveling. And you’ll end up with a suitcase full of nothing to wear. Traveling can be stressful at times, so your wardrobe needs to be one less worry. Pack your old faithfuls and the things that you love wearing.

Pack clothes that you can mix and match.

I usually pack three to four bottoms with a top for each day. And I try to make sure that my tops can be worn with all my bottoms so that I have more options. Any sweaters I take, need to go with as many tops and bottoms as possible, so I usually select neutral colors for these layers.

I take no more than three pair of shoes. A good walking shoe that can be worn with everything, flip flops for the pools or beach, and a dressy pair for nights out.

Also, a good rule of thumb is to pack for seven days, even if your trip is 14 days or more. Then just plan to do laundry.

Make a packing list.

Once you’ve figured out your wardrobe, it’s time to make that packing list. There are several free printable ones online, and I offer one for download here. But I actually prefer to hand write my own and make it specific to my trip. This is the most important tool in keeping your packing stress free. So, write down everything that you need to take, from tweezers to sunscreen to underwear. Just make that list!

Keep a toiletry bag ready at all times.

This is something that I’ve learned in the last few years. I keep my toiletry bag stocked with travel size versions of all my personal items. I just have to toss in my facial lotion and cleanser, which I don’t have travel versions of, and go.

Think about what you can really do without.

Do you really need a whole arsenal of makeup? All your hairstyling tools? Every gadget that you own? I can go for a week or more without my laptop. But I need something to read, so my kindle is a must. I rarely pack a camera anymore, my phone takes good enough pictures for me. Take a look at what you really need, because trust me it’s not as much as you think. Take it from a girl who use to pack every gadget that she owned. Now I just need my smart phone and Kindle. All the other gadgets stay home.

So, where are you going for vacation? Do you have any advice for travelers? Let me know in the comments!

Day 20 – What was my favorite vacation or trip ever — list 10 reasons why

My favorite vacation as always been Egypt! So many people told us not to go. They said that it wasn’t safe for 5 women to be traveling over there without a man! They said it was too dangerous, and that we would get killed. I am so glad that we didn’t listen to these people! We visited Egypt in 2005, and I know things are unstable now, so if we had listened to them we could’ve missed out on an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We being Melba, and her daughters Brandi and Carmella, my Aunt Joeldean, and me. I always felt safe during our journey. Our guides took the very best care of us!

Here are 10 reasons why I loved Egypt:

  1. Seeing the Pyramids at Giza.
  2. The overnight train ride form Cairo to Aswan.
  3. The felucca (sail boat) ride to the Botanical Gardens in Aswan.
  4. Visiting the Egyptian Museum and seeing part of King Tut’s treasure .
  5. Dancing aboard the Jasmine as we cruised up the Nile.
  6. Being hit on all the time, because Egyptian men love blue eyes.
  7. Riding a camel part of the way up Mount Sinai and then climbing 900 steps to the top, so that we could watch the sun rise.
  8. Bartering with the local merchants and outwitting them.
  9. Finding out I could take care of myself and others.
  10. Our tour guides. They made our trip amazing and treated us like precious cargo.

This trip was just so blessed! We met the best people, and had the best time.

What’s your favorite vacation? And why?

Day 14 – 10 unforgettable moments in my life

  1. When I got saved
    When I was six years-old, I remember being at church, and asking my Mom why my cousin was crying. She said that Jennifer wanted to get saved. Well, I said that I wanted to be saved too. I remember one the ladies taking me aside, and telling me about Salvation and I remember praying to be saved. I was about 14 when I started doubting my salvation. I wondered if I only did it because my cousin had. I couldn’t remember why I had wanted to be saved. This bothered me for a long time, and finally one night I went to my Mom in tears. We knelt on the kitchen floor, and I asked the Lord to forgive me of my sins and save me.
  2. Seeing Ground Zero
    Almost one year after 9/11, I went with my church to see Ground Zero. It is hard to explain the atmosphere. Death and sadness and fear. The girls youth group sang gospel songs and I filmed them. Some stopped to listen and others just moved on. Maybe we brought them a little peace.
  3. The first time I saw Mom have a seizure
    I was nine years-old and my Sister was seven. It was just the two of us at home with Mom. One minute she was sitting in the chair and the next she was laying in the floor, her body jerking and unresponsive. My Sister and I were both screaming. We tried to call Poppy, but her line was busy. Frantic, we both ran to her house next door. I remember falling in a mud puddle. We got Poppy and by the time we got home, Mom’s seizure was over. It took a little while for her to come around. I remember finding a place to be by myself and praying that my Mom would be okay.
  4. Fishing in the dark with Jerry
    It was this song come to life.
  5. Walking on the streets of Athens
    It was an amazing feeling that first day walking the streets of Athens. I felt so adventurous and brave. It was hard to believe that I was really there! That I was really going to be able to explore a city that I had read and dreamed about since I was a little girl.
  6. Climbing Mount Sinai
    It was one of the worst and best experiences of my life. I plan to write more about it on day 20.
  7. The hot air balloon ride in Kenya
    As I stood there watching the balloon being blown up, I felt sick. I couldn’t do it, but I had no choice because I had already paid. When the balloon was ready I climbed in with everyone else and we slowly began to rise. It was so beautiful that I forgot about my worries and was able to enjoy the ride. It was cool to see herds of buffalo and ostriches running across the Masai Mara. After the ride, we had a champagne breakfast out in the plains. We were surrounded by Masai warriors to protect us from lions or any other wild animals that could stumble on us. It was a wonderful day, and I am so glad that I didn’t let my fears keep me from going.
  8. Riding a gondola in Venice
    This was something that I had dreamed of doing since reading Nancy Drew The Phantom of Venice. :) It was so romantic riding through the streets of Venice with the Gondolier singing to us. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, but it was still beautiful.
  9. Standing on the beach in Maui
    The Hawaiian Islands were another place I had dreamed of visiting since I was a little girl. Standing there on the beach with my toes in the sand and watching the waves crash on the shore, I smiled. I hadn’t let that little girl that I use to be down. I had made her dreams come true.

  10. When I walked inside my new store
    I was so nervous, but I also felt excited. This was a huge move for me, but I knew it was the right one. My new store is beautiful and the people are amazing. Making the decision to change stores and become an assistant manager has been one of the best decisions of my life!