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. 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.
  • 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?

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