Hey y’all! I traveled this past week out to Denver, Colorado for the first time in a decade! On the long, long car ride I decided to redeem the time and hash out some of my traveling/ packing tips (on my phone no-less. 1,500 words with my thumbs, y’all). I don’t do a lot of traveling per se, but oftentimes when I do it is semi-last minute and a substantial trip. Streamlining my clothes packing experience is something I’ve been trying to work on, as well as the all-females problem over-packing. I realized I spend a lot of time rearranging my luggage and stuffing clothes into my suitcases while on trips which takes away from spending time with those I’m visiting. When you have only a few days with someone, every 5 minutes counts! πŸ™‚ And schlepping a ton of stuff around is no fun anyway.
Real quick, here is the specs on the outfit I wore to Dinosaur Ridge. We expected to go ice skating that day but it was too warm and the lake was thawing, so we went and saw dino footprints instead. πŸ™‚ 
Cardigan: Ross: $13
Jeans: American Eagle: $40
Shirt: Kohl’s: $6
Hat: Target: $10
Boots: Hush Puppies: $185
(yikes– this is one of the most expensive outfits on the blog I think! :P)
This past year I did a bit of traveling both by myself and with my family and I’ve learned a few things along the way. There are certainly many more-practiced ladies sharing their packing tips on the Internet, but here are some things I keep in mind, especially as a mostly-skirts girl: 
– choose relatively wrinkle-free if you’ll be someplace where you don’t know what the ironing situation is like. If I’m headed to a sleepover at a friend’s, I’ll choose denim, knit, or something else easy to shove in a bag. If I’m spending a week at my grandmas or in a hotel, I can take linen or cotton skirts since I know an iron will be easy to get to.
– double up bottoms. I will often re-wear a skirt or pair of jeans within a trip now. Seems obvious, but for a long time I would pack a totally different outfit (even shoes) for each day, not wanting those I was visiting to think I was short on clothes. Plus, I wanted to wear as many of my cutest clothes as I could. πŸ˜€  Funny how us girls think like that. 
– take one or two jackets tops. I would also take a jacket for each outfit, but those take up a lot of space. As I’m laying out clothes I try to choose one that will go with most outfits. 
– choose black or brown for your neutral and make all your outfits work with that. This way, you need half the pairs of shoes, half the jackets, half the tanks, and half the belts to match. I have no problem mixing black and brown if you have the right proportions, but when traveling that can be hard to manage. I find this really helps with space savings and also helps me make decisions about what to take. 
– layers are great, but don’t get over-zealous. I always think I will take the time to look super put-together and cute in my striped shirts, lacy cardigan, pearls, belt, boot socks, and done-up hair. But the truth is, I’m not going to have more time or greater desire to dress up with all those little details on vacation than I do at home, no matter my original intentions. So, leave the extra jewelry, belt you won’t even pull out, and hair flowers at home if you don’t normally wear them. At least, don’t pack a different set for everyday. Dressing nicely is definitely something I strive for, but so is practicality. 
– re-wear tanks if you can. In the winter I can usually get by wearing a tank twice or three times before it needs washed. Summer is a different story, so I pack extra in the warmer months, unless I know laundry facilities will be easily accessible. They don’t take up much space, but every little bit helps. Plus it’s less to keep track of in the spirit of streamlining repacking time. 
-roll your clothes. It really does save space, and helps with wrinkles. 
-pack what you’ll use at the end of your trip in the bottom of your suitcase, outfits you’ll wear sooner at the top. This helps with not having to dig through and mess things up. 

So, what kinds of things have I found to be helpful on every trip, whether a short overnight jaunt to Six-Flags or a two week trip to visit my hometown? Here’s my checklist: 

  • iPhone and charger, headphones, debit card, GF granola bar 
  • Toothbrush and paste, makeup (depending on the length of the trip, I’ll take more or less extras like colored eyeliner, sparkles, or eyeshadow)
  • Cloth scarf that can double as a “jacket” or pillow. 
  • Hair tie, bobby pin or two 
  • Set of pearls with earrings. Okay, I didn’t take these overnight to Six Flags, but they’ve gone on every other trip. Instant class in case you have to dress up for dinner, photoshoot, or unexpectedly need to cut your trip short and drive straight to a funeral. 
  • Knife. If I’m flying, obviously I leave this at home, but driving it is very handy for splitting apples or opening blister packs when you stop at Best Buy for a car charger. Plus, if you keep it in your pocket or boot, it gives a little bit of comfort as you visit gas station bathrooms at 2 am. 
  • Medicines. I usually have a couple allergy pills, Benadryl (bee stings), and pain killers. If I have forethought, I’ll throw lavender oil in my backpack too. 
  • Bible, journal, and sermon notebook as I usually have time to catch up on journaling and blogging while in the car. If I’m traveling with friends I don’t have an opportunity so I leave the notebooks at home. 
  • Jeans. Sometimes I’ll even throw these in the trunk if I’m traveling back roads at night. I don’t really want to change a flat tire in a skirt and you never know what kinds of activities might come up while on vacation. Wouldn’t want to miss rock climbing! 
  • My purse. This has other necessities in it that go with me everywhere. Maybe I’ll do a “What’s in my bag” post if y’all would be at all interested in that. 
I have an aversion to having to carry a ton of different bags or having to make more than one trip from the car if I’m by myself, so I try to condense as much as possible. My usual luggage is a 24″ rolling suitcase and my leather backpack for a week to two week trip. I usually try to fit my purse into my backpack so that is one less thing to carry, but I will have it for using while at my location. If I’m just going for a weekend, I try to fit it all in my backpack. 
Shoes? Well, this one used to be hard for me. But, recently I’ve been even planning my outfits out so that I don’t need to take a ton of different pairs. I start to reevaluate if I reach 4 pair. In the summer, I generally take one or two pair of flip flops, church sandals, and tennis shoes. These take up much less room than the flat boots, Sperry’s, and church boots I pack in the winter, but such is cold weather. 
A couple years ago I took only one pair of shoes on an overnight trip and the sole of the shoes ended up falling off and I had to walk through the mall to the restaurant with a flapping shoe. :p So now I always take two pair. 
As far as clothes go, what kinds of activities we will be doing and where we are going really dictate what I pack. My staples the last couple trips have been:
– a short denim skirt, a long knit skirt, jeans or capris, and a dress, usually nice enough to wear to church. 

– a shirt, sweater, or cami/cardigan combination for each day, plus an extra one or two. 

What do I wear for full day car trips? It really varies. On our recent trip in which we drove about 8 hours each day, I wore a casual long denim skirt and cami/jacket one day, my church dress, hose, belt, and long earrings the next, and jeans, mukluks, and a pretty sweater for the final leg. I spend most of my time in the van laying down or driving because the backseats hurt my neck super bad, so I’m most comfortable in jeans which let me stretch and spread out in weird positions. I just have to be a little more careful or cover up with a big blanket if I’m in a skirt. As I type this on my phone right now I’ve got my head against the window, my lower back just about falling off the seat, one knee propped against the seat in front and my other leg resting on the top of that seat, almost touching my sister’s car seat. It’s so ladylike you guys, I should win an Audrey Hepburn award or something. πŸ˜‰ 
My mom taught me to lay out- in order- my clothes for each day with socks, jackets, shoes, etc on my bed before packing it in my suitcase. I do this and then look at it real hard and figure out what I can take away. Does that one outfit need it’s own pair of shoes and the pieces can’t mix and match with everything else? Take it out of the lineup and figure something more versatile out. 
Basically, the bottom line is don’t take it unless you are 95% sure you’ll need it. Of course don’t leave behind things that would be critical if you did need them, like tennis shoes or a coat, but if it’s something that on the off chance you did really need you could either borrow or just run out to Walmart and buy like a big notepad or bottle of hand cream, leave it home. I’ve even taken to leaving my hairspray home because I know whoever I’m staying with will have some and will be happy to give me a spritz or two. 
Another thing I’ve found super helpful whether traveling with my family or another is that if you’re stopping for a night on your way to your final destination, pack your stuff for that one night in your smaller travel bag so that you don’t have to unload and drag your whole suitcase inside for the one outfit and pjs you’ll use from it. My leather backpack is perfect for this. 
My mantra for packing is the same as my mantra for the rest of my life: Simplify. De-stress. Go with it.  πŸ™‚ 
How do y’all pack? What tips do you have for not over-stuffing your suitcase? 

48 thoughts on “How I Pack For Vacation”

  1. Haha, now that's an interesting post ! I don't myself travel a whole lot, being as busy as I am with the lab and church. But when I do, I try to pack as light as possible. Typically, I'll travel to the camp where I'm a counsellor every summer, and packing for this is really a challenge, so I try to start as early as possible to be sure I don't forget anything. It can get really hard when you chose which clothes to bring, because I need nice enough clothes to wear to chapel, and also old tshirts and skirts that are really old to go run through the forest and crawl in the mud…Since I'm a skirt-only kinda girl, I think about the kind of skirt I need for camps a lot, mainly for modesty issues πŸ˜‰ The other kind of trip that I take sometimes is going to visit friends somewhere in France for a weekend. Then it's easy, I'll usually travel on friday with the outfit I'm wearing, then I have a casual top in my bag and keep the same skirt (usually denim skirt, they're my favorites !) and an outfit for church on sunday with a different pair of shoes. And my sleeping bag and toiletry. This way, I keep it to a minimum. I prefer have some room left to pack my DSLR and bring back good memories than an extra skirt !
    Have a great weekend !

  2. I love your blogs, and you are so adorable πŸ˜‰ Thank you for your time and effort , you are a wonderful example and role model for young women today. I admire what you are doing, I am the wife of a Baptist Missionary and I am in Africa and Papua New Guinea, Africa right now, I am enjoying your writing and look forward to more of it… your sister in CHRIST, Sherry

  3. Lots of good ideas!!! Since I fly to the US once a year with each time I am getting better and better at packing efficiently. πŸ™‚ My problem is that even though I pack to mix & match I end up getting REALLY bored with my outfits after about 4 weeks of rewearing them. Always happy when I get to go thrift-shopping and wear something "new" again!

  4. I live in Colorado! So glad you got to visit my pretty state; especially during a warm winter. Dinosaur Ridge was my go-to destination when I was younger and in a dinosaur phase (I think most kids had one of these!). I always left feeling paranoid that someday, somebody would follow my fossilized footprints around my backyard.


    1. Hi Olivia and Amanda! I too live in Colorado! I live around an hour and a half from Denver in Colorado Springs. Have you ever stopped in Colorado Springs?
      When I pack, I don't normally pack much. I just throw in the clothes I normally wear! Last time we went on a trip we took carry on bags, so I had to make sure not to over pack! I love the tip to roll clothes…I will definitely try that!
      God Bless!

  5. Thanks Olivia! I can see these tips being super helpful in all the traveling days that lie ahead for me πŸ™‚ And I LOVE that hat.

    I was wondering if/when you were going to do another Awkward and Awesome post? I really enjoyed those and all the casual outfits, and it seems to have been a while since you've done one. Of course all these new-topic posts are great, too, though πŸ™‚

  6. Hi i am an absolute over packing girl! I always bring to much! So i hope i can do something with you're advise! Last week i was wondering wat i could wear if i go ice skating. We than go most of the time for a day tour. And skate than 30km on nature ice. And doing that in a skirt sounds not so nice. So seeing you in a jeans with a longer top helps me to know that i do not need to wear skirts all the time!

  7. It would be awesome if you did a "What's in my bag" post! That would be fun! πŸ™‚ Sounds like fun going to Colorado…I think we're going to a wedding there sometime soon. πŸ™‚

  8. Great tips Olivia! Haven't done a whole lot of traveling in the past two years but hopefully there will be some in store this next year, that I will be able to use the tips for!:)

    Really like that outfit, (the hat added just the right amount of color) and the backdrop you used. Where in Denver where you able to find a spot you could take pictures on the road??? It is so crazy busy there!
    ~ Maria

    1. Maria, the road that goes around Dinosaur Ridge has been blocked off for walking and tour busses, so I took pictures there! The dino footprints were literally 35 ft to my right. πŸ™‚

  9. So I just got an iPhone, you mentioned using it to post? I have the app, but I can't seem to figure out how to put the photos in the center, it seems to put them to the left, any tips for iPhone blogging?
    Very nice outfit by the way! I love that cardigan sweater! Great Winter outfit! My moms family lives in CO! Colorado Springs to be exact!
    A modest fashion blog:

    1. Ahh yay you got an iPhone! I tried the blogger app when I first got my phone but couldn't figure it out, so I just write a note and then email it to myself and copy it into blogger when I get to a computer. Sorry I can't help you get it!

  10. That is funny about the flapping shoes story; I rode a bike in my cheap, but dress silver wedges and caused the heels to detach.
    I think I have more of a problem balancing my amusement stuff (we don't visit friends, so we bring stuff to do), such as journals, books, crafts etc. I am not good at the mixing and matching concept, I prefer new and quite different everyday if possible…part of the reason I struggle with winter clothing-not enough/any floral! I have tried to roll my stuff; it really does work…but then in packing for home I don't usually want to roll the dirty stuff!

  11. Funny, when you said "hose" I thought that you meant That long rubber tube! I had to take a second look! πŸ˜›
    Great ideas! I really need those! And I would be really interested in a " What's in my bag" post!

  12. I'm a big fan of rolling clothes, and stuffing them in packing cubes (Eagle Creek makes some good ones, but I've seen some generic brands floating around.) I never thought it would be productive to pack something in a box in order to pack it in another box, but I bought a ton of them before I went to Italy, and will never travel without them. If I had to find something in my backpack all I had to do was grab the cube it was packed in, instead of digging through all my clothes in the airport. A lot of them come with solid vinyl sides, too, in case you need to pack something wet or dirty.

  13. I am a really organized person and it drives me crazy when my stuff is like stuffed or just laying somewhere. I also lay out my clothes first and fold them before I put them in my bag. I have found out even though it may take longer to fold your clothes, it saves a ton of room and you won't regret it later. The past 2 years, I have also been leaving more stuff at home but I still take a couple extra stuff just in case. I try not to take the things that in my heart I know I won't wear. This is sort of weird but also to save space, I put my sock inside my shoes- like I just got back from AL (my cousin played in the bowl game Vanderbilt against Houston) and I put my socks inside my cowgirl boots! It was a great help! Thanks for this post! You have some great tips, Olivia!


  14. Hi Olivia,

    Do you sell your demin made skirts? I saw that you have an Ebook but, sewing clothes is not my line of work.

    Love your outfits!


  15. Hi Oliva,
    I know this doesn't really have anything to do with your post, but i had a question. Do you happen to know if there's any difference between curling irons and hot rollers as far as damage to your hair? My hair is a CONSTANT source of irritation for me. It's long, thin, and straight as a board, (which is like the worst combination possible.) Anyway, i've been thinking about trying to curl it, but i tend to have problems with split ends, and i'm afraid adding heat might make that worse. Any suggestions? Split end remedies? Hairslyles that are good for thin, straight hair with no bangs? Thanks!

    p.s. I make my own natural shampoo (castille soap; coconut milk; vitamin e oil, and essential oils of lavender and peppermint) and conditioner (mixture of coconut and jojoba oil with a little lavender), and i never blow dry my hair. I also don't use hair spray or mousse or any other chemicals on my hair that i can think of. Any suggestions would be very helpful! Thanks so much for your blog!

    1. Have you tried No-heat curls?

      I love this sock doughnut method (http://aspottedpony.com/for-moms/how-to-use-a-sock-to-get-beautiful-curly-hair-without-heat/1517/)
      Rag curling: http://www.largefamiliesonpurpose.com/2011/02/fun-hair-for-girls-how-to-get-spirals.html

      Or you could google Pin curl buns, headband curls and bandana curls. πŸ™‚ Most, if not all of these methods, reportedly work great with thin, fine, stubbornly straight or really, most textures of hair.

      Rinsing your hair with cold water after washing it really tones down the frizz factor (it closes the cuticles) and drying it in a smooth towel (or t-shirt / fabric) turban to dry it, really works for me. I have a large amount of extremely fine, naturally frizzy hair. Otherwise, I just braid it if I haven't got any time to do all that.

    2. Joanna, It sounds like your hair is just like mine. except I do use some hairspray. I've been doing home made shampoo kinda like yours, but I still need conditioner as I haven't figured out how to make my own. to reduce damage and split ends, I use a wide toothed comb when my hair is wet. I hear that you should never brush wet hair. my favorite hairstyles are 1.Twists http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8C-Co04b3Q (you can do lots of variations with this)
      2.Infinity bun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0ubkf_0_Gk
      3.Sock bun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HERb6Sz9dmk (caution: if your hair is very long, you may not want to do it this way, mine got very tangled. Instead I just wrap my hair out around and back thru the middle of the sock donut the whole way around)

      I hope this helps. I do all of these hairstyles with knee length hair. there are lots of videos for long hair-dos on youtube if you need more ideas.

    3. Sayna, thanks for the suggestions! i do sock buns all the time, but i never thought about sleeping in them. i'm definately going to try this!

      Trish, Thanks for those! i do sock buns all the time, and i do regular french braids too, but i really like that variation. As far as split ends, usually wait until my hair is all the way dry before i comb it (with a wide tooth comb). I almost never use a brush even when my hair is dry. thanks though!
      Wow! Knee length hair? How did you do that? when i was little my hair was down to right below my hips, but then i grew and my hair didn't. Then, about 2 years ago, i got really bad split ends, so i cut it to about the middle of my back, and it grew about 6 inches in two or three months after i cut it, and then stopped, and WILL NOT GROW any more! How can i make it grow? i miss having really long hair!

  16. I love love love love love love love the outfit, Olivia! I adore the sweater/cardigan. Adorable! I was looking for something like that for a while but couldn't find anything. Thanks for posting! πŸ™‚

  17. Great tips! It's like you and my mother have the same brain, she follows these packing practices as well, with the exception perhaps of the knife in the boot. πŸ˜‰ That one is a nice touch. Hope you had fun on your trip!

  18. I looove your outfits! It is such a blessing that I was able to find your blog.If you have the time, please do "what's in my purse," since I am a huge purse fan and would love to see what you put in it! πŸ™‚

    I am so tempted to go thrift store shopping near you…you have the cutest selection!

    God bless,

    Anne Marie

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