Ask me where my 10th-anniversary expensive earrings could be and I don’t have an answer because I lost them somewhere in the Mediterranean.  The simple answer, after careful reflection, lots of crying, and self-pity, was that I took too much stuff on that vacation.  This one loss alone cured me from over-packing forever.

Let’s be frank:  Planning a vacation anywhere is time-consuming and sometimes frustrating and while some things are not in our control such as flight times and train schedules, I have found that one of the things that I can control is my stuff.  The stuff I Really need when going away on vacation.  My opinion is as someone who can live out of a carry-on for two weeks for a land vacation, (I emphasize LAND as I do pack differently for a cruise), and have absolutely everything.  I silently congratulate myself many times when I having a carefree vacation, come home with all my stuff, and move luggage on my own.

This mindset has non-negotiable for packing using just three items as a framework: one cross-body medium-sized purse, a set of packing cubes, and one lightweight spinner carry-on bag.  My reasons: I want a cross-body bag so that my hands-free. I want the packing cubes to keep things organized and I don’t want the weight of the luggage to be a big contributor to the overall weight of what I’m pulling, pushing, or lifting.  The lightweight spinner style of luggage easily moves down hotel and cruise ship corridors, airplanes, trains, and bus aisles. So let’s pack!

First: lingerie.  Think 4 of each along with socks /and hosiery.   I include a bit of powdered laundry soap in a zip-top plastic bag. (Think washing in the sink nightly.)   One Bungees cord so that items will be able to dry.  Second focus: day wear. I choose two pairs of slacks which are of darker colors that I will spot wash if needed and 1 dark-colored skirt along with three tops that match all three of the lower half. One of these tops and bottoms will be worn on the travel day. Essentially, I have created nine different days’ worth of clothing.   I will wear most items twice and no one will care…really.   Third focus: shoes.  I bring two pairs.  One is a really good pair of walking shoes that I wear on the plane and the other is a pair of black flats that will go nicely with my skirt or slacks for an evening out..  However, many individuals are not able to get on without 3 pairs and that is the absolute maximum amount that I would consider.  (If you care to bring sneakers, then my humble suggestion is to wear them on the plane and as often as you can when moving your luggage yourself.  The average pair of sneakers can weigh 3 lbs. or more.)  Fourth focus: toiletries.   I always want to take more than fits into the plastic bag but remember that airline regulations allow only have one plastic bag in your carry-on or you must check the bag.   Taking the absolute minimum amounts I need to get started, such as small travel size toothpaste, deodorant, and a bit of make-up, as the trip progresses, buy what I need.  There are pharmacies and stores in every country where these items are easily purchased. My final focus: outerwear. I pack the fold-up a raincoat and an orange umbrella.  You never know whether and I don’t like being wet and damp or cold.  Unpleasant to say the least.

Personal Item: my cross-body bag holds cash and credit cards, medication, 1 package of tissues just in case the toilets are out of toilet paper.   (I replenish the tissues in the hotel or the pharmacy). Handy Wipe Towels are a must and one goes in my bag and the rest in my carry-on in case the public facilities are out of paper towels. One small package of antibacterial wipes just to wipe my hands or tables where I may eat.   My journal and a pen are next… and don’t forget – a misplaced pen can be replaced from a hotel for free and makes for a nice souvenir.   The last items placed in the bag are a phone, charger, a power pack, and earbuds…. And I do not take any more electronics than my phone for calls, maps, photos, podcasts, or enjoying the onboard entertainment.

Day of travel: Passport and all tickets go in the front pocket of the suitcase for easy access. I wear slacks, a sleeveless blouse, and one pair of earrings.   I wear a black shawl so that I may use it as a blanket or pillow for the plane, train, or bus, or wear it under my raincoat for warmth. It doubles as a wrap for an evening.

The final task is weighing the carry-on with all items packed. It weighs just 40 lbs. On the day of travel, I easily pick this up and put it in the overhead bin.  No lost luggage and I begin my adventure upon arrival…. No muss, no fuss!

The moral of the story is “The less you take, the less you lose and the quicker you move.”   Enjoy life and travel!