Packing a bag for travel can be intimidating, sometimes your own nemesis. We have all experienced that daunting feeling of standing in front of the closet with an empty suitcase, bewildered about where to even begin. Do you remember those summer trips to the beach as a child when you tried to bring along every item of clothing you owned, terrified that you may forget something or, forbid, you may have to wear something multiple times? If you have never found yourself in this situation, you are fortunate. Packing is truly an art form, and it is something that takes time and experience to perfect. It’s essential that every man learn how to effectively pack a bag, and that means finding the right balance. You don’t want to pack too much, but you also don’t want to pack too little.
Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to embark on a holiday that spanned across Dublin, Ireland, and Amsterdam. Here are some packing tips and essentials from my latest travels. Let it be known that I am still perfecting my personal process, learning something new each time I pack a bag. Each trip creates its own set of necessities depending on destination, interval, and type of travel.
- Don’t wait until the last minute. You really don’t want to be trying to figure out what you need to pack the night before. This is inevitable many times, but try to avoid procrastinating. You’ll lower your chances of forgetting something crucial. Also, a good night’s sleep is essential the night before traveling, especially when you’re headed overseas and you have a full day planned as soon as you step off the plane.
- Check the weather and pack accordingly. You should know what kind of climate you are headed to. The average high in Ireland and Amsterdam in May is 50-60 degrees rains most everyday. This is quite the difference from the 80-90 degree weather we left back in the states. Be aware and be prepared.
- Pack the essentials first. Pack a change of underwear for every morning. Pack a pair of socks for approximately every day or every other day (wearing the same socks a couple days in a row isn’t going to hurt you). Pack some basic tees for layering (again, you can get away with wearing these multiple days in a row).
- Next, get specific. However, don’t think in terms of specific outfits. Rather, think about how many items of clothing will you need per day of travel. Again, this depends on the type of trip you take. Touristy vacations are different from beach vacations. For a touristy trip, such as this one, you will typically wear one outfit during the day (more casual-for touring/walking) and one outfit each night (more formal-for dinner/socializing). Therefore, my general rule of thumb is one casual shirt (flannel, chambray, etc.) and one formal shirt (oxford, etc.) per two-three days of travel. Once you wear through your rotation of shirts, start over.
- Basic Layering. When the days are cool and the nights are chilly, you can’t go wrong with a couple of neutral crewneck sweatshirts and your favorite sweater. Wear them over throughout the trip.
- Minimize. When you think you finally have everything perfectly packed, minimize your suitcase and take out a couple of items. You always need less than you think you do. You don’t want to be that guy hauling his suitcase through the airport that weighs more than he does. Plus, you want to leave some room for those sweet goods that you might purchase on your trip.