So you’ve bought your tickets, convinced your boss/significant other/cat that you need to take XX days off to “get your head together” and you have a guidebook. You utilize the internet like a pro, getting a great fare, reserving your sweet hotel room in advance, and even printing out your boarding tickets. The plants are watered, Uncle Jimmy is going to feed Killer, and heck, you even programmed the DVR so you don’t miss any episodes of “Thirsty Traveler” in re-runs.

Now you have to pack.

Ugh. It is a chore for any traveler, seasoned or not, saavy or new to the road. What do I bring? you ask yourself. Jeans? Nah, too heavy. But will I look cool in shorts and sandals the whole time, or will I look like Uncle Jimmy going to his overaters anonymous meeting…? Yikes.

Here are a few pointers for making this potentially painful—and socially awkward—chore a bit less daunting.

  1. Take a deep breath and start early! Packing all night last-minute will not help your nerves.
  2. Set aside clothes for the plane ride such as nice looking casual clothes and slip on shoes; no belt.
  3. Pack a light jacket that is dark in color, so it can go with anything.
  4. Pack a swimsuit, no matter what the weather.
  5. Pack one set of nice pants, a decent shirt/top and decent shoes.
  6. Pack enough “general” clothes for 5 days, no matter how long your trip lasts. Socks, undies, shirts, pants that mix-and-match well, solid colors are easy. Usually I get away with “recycling” 2 pairs of pants.
  7. Pack in smaller bags; eBags.com has a great set of inexpensive travel bags that seperate items well.
  8. Bring a hat and a mini-unbrella.
  9. Bring a reasonable bathroom kit with the necessities. Bring aspirin, etc.
  10. Bring a small tin of mints or some gum so you can have good breath. Trust me.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, Keep it simple, pack the same amount of stuff for a 5 day trip or 30 days, and try to seperate items in smaller bags. This will save space as well as keep you organized, and keep smelly stuff from contaminating clean stuff.

Most importantly, relax and get ready for a great trip. If you forgot anything, make it part of the trip to find a suitable replacement while you are travelling. it is all part of the adventure!