Spring Break’s just around the corner for my family, and when you’re vacationing with hubby and kids, that’s a whole different kind of Spring Break than the Daytona Beach ‘n’ beer variety.
And a whole different kind of packing list, too.
Last year I outlined a one-carry-on version that worked in a warm climate for 7 days.
This year, I’m packing for a 5-day road trip Spring Break in the northeast.
Some items are going to change (more long sleeves, no pool stuff, sigh), but many are going to be very similar (denim and sneakers and cardigans).
Even though I technically have more room and can bring more, because it’s a shorter trip I’m going to keep it light. Besides, I find that when I plan my items and outfits in advance like this, there’s really no need for a lot of extra options.
That’s the beauty of identifying a core set of packable pieces in your wardrobe; it gives you an easy starting point for assembling a packing list that’s customized for each trip.
Packing List for a 5-Day Spring Vacation Road Trip
Here’s what I’ll be bringing.
- Long pants (black/khaki)
- Second pair jeans or long pants
- Cropped pants
- Grey hoodie
- 2 cardigans
- 2 knit shirts (short sleeves)
- 3 T-shirts (long sleeves)
- 1 knit shirt (3/4-length sleeves)
- Underwear (5 panties, 2 bras)
- Socks (5 pair)
- Medium weight jacket (denim, leather or heavy knit)
- Tote bag/Backpack
- 1 pair flats
- 1 pair sneakers
- Chargers for phone, cameras
- Hair dryer (if not available in hotel)
Day 1 (travel)
- long-sleeved T-shirt #1
- short-sleeved knit shirt #1
- cardigan #1
- short-sleeved knit shirt #2
- cardigan #2
- long-sleeved T-shirt #2
Day 5 (travel)
- jeans #2
- long-sleeved T-shirt #3
What to buy
Like the items in the photo illustration above? Here’s where to find them.
[Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links.]
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Juicy Couture cotton tee
Eddie Bauer Long-Sleeve Open Cardigan
J Crew striped top
Victoria s Secret graphic hoodie
Hive Honey ruffle top
TopShop printed top
J Crew denim jacket
American Eagle Outfitters cropped jeans
TOMS glitter shoes
Nicole Coolio black flats
AUGUST HAT cap hat
It seems like spring has barely started while at the same time summer is just around the corner. But if you’re traveling in the next few weeks, chances are you’ll still be packing for a trip in warm but pleasant weather.
So what should you pack for a 7-day trip in the spring? We just got back from our Spring Break journey to California, so here’s a road-tested packing list for warm weather and variations in climate. Best of all, it fits into a carry-on sized suitcase.
Packing List for a 7-Day Spring Vacation
Whew! I’m back from my 10-day, 3,000-mile winter trip which means I’ve road-tested my packing list in the real world. So how did my recommendations of what to pack for a 10-day winter trip hold up?
Quite well, I’m pleased to say.
What worked well
I had more than enough options to create different outfits every day without feeling like I was repeating myself too much. And I had enough layers to be comfortable in weather that ranged from cooler-than-expected but still mild for late November to downright freezing.
Best of all, everything really did fit in one Samsonite four-wheeled pilot case. (Which I love love love! I’ve gotten my money’s worth on this trip alone.)
What I’ll change next time
The next time I take a winter trip of this duration, I’ll make a few small changes:
- More neutral long-sleeved shirts. I took one grey, one white and one red. I wore the grey one several times, but the other ones just once apiece.
- Fewer cardigans. I brought a grey hoodie plus two different cardigans. I really only needed the hoodie and one other cardigan.
- More short-sleeved T-shirts. I wound up wearing the short-sleeved T-shirt I brought as a layering piece more often than I expected; next time I’ll bring at least one more.
- When you take a winter trip, what do you pack in your carry-on?
- And what’s your favorite bring-aboard piece of luggage?
Behold as I try to fit 10 days' worth of outfits in a suitcase this size!
Packing for a trip is a very special breed of wardrobe planning. It requires shopping from your closet for the fewest number of garments that will give you the greatest amount of wear.
This is especially true the longer your trip, and the greater the number of locations you will visit.
Throw in a couple of different climates–and try to fit it all in a carry-on to avoid baggage fees–and you’ve reached a difficulty rating of 10 out of 10.
Watch, my friends, as I attempt to perform this triple-somersault-with-a-twist of packing: 10 days, 3 cities, 2 different climate types and 1 carry-on.
Can she do it? Behold! (And ask me again after I get back … )
What to pack for a 10-day winter trip
Note: I’m only focusing on wearable items here; I could write a whole other post about accessories, toiletries and the like. (And maybe in the future I will.)
- 2 pair jeans
- 1 pair pants, neutral color
- 2 tissue-weight turtlenecks (great for layering and less bulky to pack)
- 1 set long underwear (to take my layered outfits from Texas deserts to North Carolina mountains)
- 4 long-sleeved T-shirts
- 3 short-sleeved T-shirts
- 2 cardigans
- 1 medium weight sweater
- 1 button-down shirt
- 1 sweater vest
- 1 pair pajamas
- 1 leather jacket
- 1 down vest
So how does this work? In warmer climates (60s during the day and 40s at night), I can layer up with two T-shirts plus a cardigan in the day, and add the leather jacket or even just the down vest at night. In the mountains, where the temperatures will be 20 to 30 degrees colder, I can add my long underwear as a base layer underneath everything and wear both leather jacket and down vest. If I’m really feeling cold, I can even add the sweater vest as well.
Because everything is a knit fabric, I can fit more in my suitcase by rolling items up and stacking them. I’ll wear my leather jacket to the airport to save packing space and to stay warm on over-cooled airplanes.
Now pardon me while I go pack my suitcase to make sure everything fits!
- What are your packing tips and tricks?
- What would you bring on a trip like this?
Pack right, pack light
The holidays are upon us and for many of us, that means travel. And while I can’t help you with traffic or flight delays, I can make one part just a little easier: packing.
I recently returned from two weekend trips, back to back, traveling from New York to North Carolina, from balmy days to wintry snow, all in one pilot case.
Here are a few tips that helped me pack light, yet versatile.
- Layers. No matter how many times you check the forecast before departure, weather is consistently unpredictable. I expected cool temperatures while in New York, and yet on the day of arrival, it was beautiful enough to go jacket free. The easiest way to transition between temperatures (and from day to night, too) is with layers, especially if you pick up basics in a tissue-thin microfiber. One outfit I wore consisted of a tissue-weight V-neck T-shirt over a similarly thin turtleneck in the same color, topped with a colorful cardigan. If it got too warm, I could remove the cardigan and drape it around my shoulders.
- Mix and match. The other beauty of layers is that they form a foundation for mixing and matching. Choose garments in one or two neutral colors, and supplement them with a colorful piece or two–or even an accessory, like a neck scarf. In winter, for example, the same dark mock turtle or long-sleeved T can be worn under a different sweater or jacket every day, and no-one will be the wiser.
- Simplify. Oh, this is the hardest part. Even with a firm itinerary before departure, how tempting it is to bring along an extra outfit or two, “just in case.” But with your set of neutral layers, entire additional outfits shouldn’t be necessary. Just add a skirt here, or a dressier trouser there, and several more ensembles can be conjured from the ingredients. Plus, a single palette for your packable wardrobe makes shoe selection that much easier as well.
- Reduce. The sister to simplification, this step has to do with removing items entirely that don’t have to be packed. Will your hotel have a hair dryer in the room? Do you need every piece of travel makeup? Can you buy a toiletry there and throw it away when you’re done?
And once you’ve cracked the code of your particular packing set, don’t recreate your efforts every time. Jot them down in a printable document so you have a checklist handy for your next trip.
Here are a few other places to visit for great packing tips:
- One Bag. For people who are really serious about traveling light. Also includes great tips about choosing luggage, and sample packing tips.
- Real Simple’s How to Pack a Suitcase. Step by step, with photos.
- Fodor’s Travel Blog. More tips for slimming down your packing.
- Beauty Packing List. A packing list for beauty items, particularly those to carry on board the plane.
Now it’s your turn: what are your best packing tips? What garment do you take on every trip?
[Photo credit: Jetheriot]