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Travel Packing 101

Packing! Packing is so hard and I feel like no matter how many times I do this I always have to think strategically about it, like how do I even know what to pack? What if it’s hot? What if it’s cold? What if I wanna dress up or go hiking? These are all questions that most of us face when packing for a trip whether it is a weekend, a 5 week traipse across Europe or a 5-month backpacking trip around South America.

Well, I don’t claim to be an expert in this field but I have basically been packing for trips since I was about 9 years old and for the majority of my life I could basically fit everything I own into 1-2 suitcases so I am definitely comfortable with the subject.

Less is More

I will start off by saying that less is more… always. I cannot stress this enough! When I know I am going on longer trips I migrate towards my black clothing as it won’t show dirty spots as easily, however, white & gray also tend to work well on longer journeys but I always have to throw in a splash of color there somewhere.

I think the main thing you want to think about while packing is what is my primary goal and what will I spend my time doing? For example, when I spend more time in cities I am much more likely to want to dress a bit more fashionable, less hiking shoes (But I LOVE my Keen hiking shoes for when I do want to hike!) more flats, more mascara and less ‘3-5 day no-wash hair in a bun.’ Everyone is different so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Versatility is Key

Dark wash jeans are a must for any trip, I love my Aviator Jeans with full size pockets! Well-fitted ones even more so because they can be your everyday wear or they can be your going out at night dress-up outfit as well.

I love dark jeans and no leggings wearer can tell me otherwise! Let’s hear it for the jean girls! They are so versatile and I always make sure to buy good quality jeans that will last me a long time and I am comfortable in so as to limit my clothing waste as well.

If I know I am going to be doing any sort of outdoor activity on my trip I want to make sure to pack an alternate pair of pants, like hiking zip-off pants which are extremely handy and comfortable to slip into or some sort of loose-fitting pant. The North Face is a great go-to brand for pants like these but I always check out my local REI to see what they’ve got before any big adventure travel.

Consider the Weather

Weather plays a huge factor in deciding what I want to bring. I have only started wearing shorts in the last few years and therefore can only tell you that one pair of shorts tend to be plenty for me. I love my army green almost cargo shorts that I got from Target. Besides the fact that I feel like army/olive green can go with anything, they are really comfortable and don’t ride up! Hello, bigger thighs girls… I have that chub rub too! They are just long enough to prevent the pain of a rash but not too long that I look like I am headed for camp. (I have a pair of those back home as well lol) A bathing suit is a must (if you are heading for warmer weather) along with a quick-drying towel and a sarong! Both are valuable!

I will also say that I recently have gotten really into the sporty moisture wicking t-shirts and I actually found mine at some discount stores like Marshalls and Ross. I have two that look a bit more on the gray side and they are amazing for longer trips as the quality of wear & wash seems to not affect them at all! Now I will say that I look more like a hiker/long-term traveler wearing these so I also made sure to bring a couple of solid colored cotton shirts as well. Black to dress up and for longevity and a yellow one because let’s be real, I love color and all this black & white & gray all the time is killing me. I am a colorful person and I need to have color in my life SO that being said… A colorful scarf is a great way to add some color to your wardrobe and some flashy jewelry too!

Accessorize!

I am the type of person who LOVES to find new items while traveling so it’s always better to take less to start with and find a couple of pieces of clothing or jewelry to brighten up your travel wardrobe.

Don’t be afraid to take one cute lightweight dress with you. Maybe even a maxi skirt to wear at out at night but keep in mind if you do, what kind of shoes will you pair with it? I only have my flip-flops and I’m too old to walk around in those. My feet hurt y’all! (yeah that’s what I still did and I have only worn my dress like twice smh)

You Can Always Do Laundry

I will lay out what I have on this 5.5-month journey below and tell you that I have been a bit amazed even with myself about how I have learned to live with less because the reality is no matter where you travel to, you can do laundry! Don’t take something on your trip that you wouldn’t normally wear in everyday life… It’s not realistic. You will end up wearing the same things you normally do because, clothing, while it is an expression of our personality is basically like our security blanket too especially on longer journeys! We wear what we are normally comfortable wearing.

(Not shown below are my undies, socks, bras or thermals because I am currently in Punta Arenas, Chile, in Autumn and I had to stay warm when taking this photo somehow!)

So, after all, is said & done with my personal trip thus far and my packing tips I will tell you what I would do differently.

  1. If I travel for this period of time again I would not choose more than one climate. I repeat I would pick one part of the world where the temperature would be somewhat similar the whole time with only slight differences. No extremes from hot to freezing cold! *smdh*

  2. I would pack a pair of cute flats because the reality is no matter how much I am in nature and enjoy trekking around in my hiking shoes, at the end of the day when I get a real city I wanna look & feel cute. Hiking shoes, Sneakers, and Flip-flops just don’t cut it if I wanna go out at night.

  3. I have found that outside of the US makeup is minimal. I brought all my stuff with me just in case and really my eyelash curler and some mascara with 1 lipstick/lipgloss would’ve been enough. Gotta let my skin breeeeaaathe!

  4. DO NOT forget a sarong. I didn’t bring mine with so I got (staying positive here) to buy a new one but I have one at home and for any and all beach locations it’s kind of essential and you can save your money if you already own one.

  5. You don’t need ten billion pairs of underwear! Listen there is a meme going around talking about how we all pack so many pairs of underwear it’s like we think we are going to shit ourselves every day for a month. lol Let me tell you… I have been traveling for almost five months and have gotten food poisoning in THE MOST inconvenient places and times and I have, in fact, shit myself, (If you want a laugh, you can read about it here) I still haven’t used all my underwear before doing laundry one single time. You just don’t need that many pairs of underwear.

  6. I did not originally take a pair of compression socks with me but I picked some up along the way. Super handy for long trips, multiple flights or if you are ascending or descending altitudes constantly.

  7. Okay and my final piece of advice for what to pack and what I would’ve done differently on this trip more specifically is that I maybe wouldn’t have traveled by backpack at all… Now that sounds crazy since I am backpacking around South America but Luggage is the biggest accessory of all while traveling so I will say this… I am not going out finding places to camp, I am not hitchhiking, I am not trekking with my bags for days on end soooooooo in all honesty If I were going to do this over again, I think I would bring a rolling bag. There have been VERY few times on this trip that carrying all my stuff on my back has been necessary and back to that whole, ‘I’m old’ thing… My back hurts y’all, like I can’t do this for a long period of time so when you are picking what bag you are gonna use take that into consideration. Not everyone has to do the backpacking thing, and that is completely okay… Backpacks are not for everyone the same way rolling suitcases aren’t either. I have done both as you can see below lol…

So when it comes time to packing don’t think you will wear something you wouldn’t normally wear and take things you can pair easily or mix & match with different outfits. Versatile outfits are your biggest strategy when packing effectively or efficiently. My pants, shorts, and tops can basically all be interchangeable, creating multiple different outfits. And even if you do end up wearing the same outfit a couple of times, I hope you understand no one at all is going to care. It really comes down to how you feel and making sure you can manage your own bags without any help, because that may be the reality. Also always leave room in your bag for something extra you may want to get along the way.

Coco Betty Travels About Me

Hi Friends!

My full name is Courtney Elizabeth and growing up some of my nicknames were Coco & Betty, thus the name Coco Betty. Feel free to call me Coco, I still answer to it. I empower women to love themselves through travel, one trip at a time.

5 Comments

  1. Shareen on May 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

    5 🤣🤣 so true though! Plus undies are the easiest to hand wash. Even when back packing – do you ever use packing cubes?

    • Coco on May 19, 2019 at 6:55 pm

      Haha! yesss! I go back and forth with packing cubes depending on where I am going and for how long!

  2. Katherine on May 21, 2019 at 7:52 am

    SO TRUE in regards to how bad it sucks packing for two different climates! I went from Bali heat and humidity to Tokyo sweater weather in November and I never want to pack for something like that again!

    • Coco on May 23, 2019 at 7:36 pm

      Oh man! That sounds really hard! lol I have been in tropical warm summer weather and now am in cold Patagonia hiking weather… hahaha this is too much!

  3. Angela Giles on August 8, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Awesome article! YES to this: I would not choose more than one climate. I repeat, I would pick one part of the world where the temperature would be somewhat similar the whole time with only slight differences.

    Angela Giles
    http://www.angelagiles.com

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Coco Betty Travels About Me

Hi Friends!

My full name is Courtney Elizabeth and growing up some of my nicknames were Coco & Betty, thus the name Coco Betty. Feel free to call me Coco, I still answer to it. I empower women to love themselves through travel, one trip at a time.

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