How To Pack For Any Adventure

This is my best advice for how to pack for any adventure. Unless you need very specific gear or extras such as formalwear, this list will cover most short-term travels. Be sure to label every bag with your name and cell phone number, even if you think they will never be out of your sight.

Before you get started, however, one thing must be done.

Check. The. Weather.

I honestly cannot stress this enough. For example, when we first considered a move to southern California, we convinced ourselves every day would be like living on the Axiom in Wall-E: a balmy 72 degrees and sunny, no variation. Spoiler alert: it is not. We have traveled to Disneyland in both a deluge of rain and needing winter jackets. Look at the long-range forecast for your days of travel and plan accordingly.

That said, following is a brief run-down of what we typically take regardless of destination. Keep in mind, in most cases there is almost nothing you can forget that cannot be remedied when you arrive.

Unless you need very specific gear or extras such as formalwear, this list will cover most short-term travels. Click To Tweet

I also include a small-ish purse that completely zips up that I keep with me while out and about. Just enough to hold my phone, chapstick, brush, any tickets or passes, and credit card or cash. And a few band aids. Because, Agents.

For reference, no one in our party requires daily medications, and our kids are out of the diapers and sippy cups stage, so those items have not been addressed here.

Globe with three flag pins sitting on the sand. Text reads: How to pack for any adventure.

Simplified Packing List: How To Pack For Any Adventure

  • one outfit per day, unless day/night temps are predicted to be wildly different {for trips of 5-6 nights or longer, I pack one outfit for every two days and assume I will do laundry}
  • sweater or long-sleeve shirt for evening {even in summer}
  • rain jacket {if good chance of rain during your visit}
  • two pairs of socks/underwear per day {trust me, if you take a mid-day break you will appreciate this—especially if you change into swimsuits and then different clothes for evening}
  • pajamas
  • swimsuits {if weather is amenable}
  • flip flops or sandals {for getting to and from the pool; can also be a temporary solution if shoes get wet and need time to dry out}
  • chargers for everything {even if it is just an overnight and you think you won’t need them}
  • first aid kit {if you do not want to cart the whole thing, at least take pain relief meds—nothing worse than a headache or a sore back while traveling}
  • basic toiletries {condensed as much as possible; you are likely to want to do the bare minimum especially if your days are long}
  • small containers or shallow boxes to organize toiletries in the hotel bathroom {so much easier than trying to work out of the toiletry bag and/or dumping everything on the counter}
  • nightlight or two {helpful to at least have one in the bathroom}
  • laundry detergent pods {I try to avoid needing to wash clothes on shorter stays, but why not be prepared}
  • sunglasses and sunblock {even cloudy days can be deceiving}
  • book, travel journal, preferred writing implements {if you’re the type to enjoy that type of thing in the evenings or early mornings}
  • coffee or tea and non-perishable creamers {sometimes it is easier to stay in the room than try to go out in the morning or evening after a long day}
  • stuffed animals, if a night time necessity for anyone in your party {move them to the desk in the morning so housekeeping doesn’t accidentally sweep them up in the sheets—yes, this happened to us, and luckily it was recovered}
  • simplified wallet {you won’t need most of what you usually carry; ID and some form of payment is probably enough, plus some cash if you think you will need it for tips}
  • printed copies of tickets/passes/reservation numbers {even if you have them on your phone, you never know}

Alright, savvy travelers: What did I miss? What tips do you have for how to pack for any adventure?

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Avatar

    This is a fantastic list for packing for an adventure. I always overpack and am carrying way too heavy of a suitcase. I am going to save this list for our next trip.

    1. Valerie

      I’m getting better, but a lot of times I still find myself getting to the hotel to unpack and thinking, why do I have so much stuff, LOL. Somehow I always convince myself I need more clothes than I do. 🤔

  2. Avatar

    Good ideas! I know a rain jacket is a must when visiting Florida! There’s always a freak rain storm! First aid kit is also good, I need to invest in a travel one.

    1. Valerie

      We love our first aid kit; we just leave it packed all the time because we don’t really have a “medicine cabinet” in the bathroom. I’m pretty sure we got it for free for buying three items from the “health” section of Target, ha. Gotta love a good Target deal. 😀

  3. Avatar
    Kathy Walker

    This is a great list! I usually overpack and bring so many clothes because I don’t think about package outfits just clothes. But by packing an outfit a day will surely help. Thanks for the list!

    1. Valerie

      Yes, it helps a lot. But sometimes I find myself thinking that I’m going to care more about what I have on while on vacation than I actually do. Like on our last cruise, I packed a bunch of cute outfits and really I would have been happy if I just had 4-5 of the exact same dress in different colors. Cleary I still need to take my own advice sometimes. 🙃

  4. Avatar
    Jen Van Haitsma

    This is really helpful! Also, now I want to go on an adventure. Lol. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Valerie

      😂 I feel like we’ve been on so many adventures lately that 2020 may be The Year Of Staying Home. Except for Disney. Because, Disney. Thanks so much for stopping by. ♥️

  5. Avatar

    What a helpful article! I know the 1st time we took our family of 6 to Disney World for 10 days I WAAAY over packed and it was costly with the cost of luggage and airfare. I quickly learned how to pack for our future trips and needless to say, I’ve gotten so much better! Down from 5 suitcases to 2!

    1. Valerie

      When the kids were tiny, we got into the habit of only bringing what one adult could manage. Basically, if I were wrangling all three kids, Hubby had to be able to maneuver all the suitcases/stuff solo. It definitely helped us to par down. Now we rarely travel with more than two large suitcases for our family of five.

  6. Avatar
    Britt K

    I love your suggestion to carry a simplified wallet when on adventures. You’re far more likely to lose your wallet when you’re out and about, or to have it stolen because tourists are seen as easy targets…. carrying a simplified wallet will reduce what you lose if something happens.

    1. Valerie

      That is so true! Even if it is not something “valuable” {library cards, discount cards, receipts, AAA card} those things are a pain to have to replace!

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