Monday, June 18, 2012

how-to: packing a suitcase - essential items to bring and tips for airline travel

Traveling abroad is a frequent occurrence for this bi-cultural family, traveling for work is a weekly thing for the hubs and when we feel extra adventurous we throw in a few trips within the US as well. You could say we've become pretty experienced when it comes to all sorts of travel, may it be by car, bus, plane and yes, even train.

So today you will get to learn about my secrets to packing the perfect suitcase for a early summer vacation to Germany. Why? Well because that's just where travel has taken me once again...

First things first: 

  • Space Bags!!! Get them, use them and be amazed at how much can fit into that one small suitcase you are currently permitted to take with you on international air travel (free of charge). They work with your vacuum to suck all the air out of the bag, leaving you with a neat "block" of clothes. Surprisingly, if you fold everything neatly, the clothes will come out hardly wrinkled at all. Of course this will not magically cut the weight of all your stuff in half but it will help you keep things organized. The bags even come in different sizes so you can really get down to the nitty gritty of dividing and organizing.

  • Make sure you know what you're allowed to take with you and how much it can weigh. The weight limit for a suitcase when we left was 50lbs, one per person, a carry-on as well as a personal bag. I will go into detail on traveling with an infant/toddler in another post soon.

Now what to pack into that suitcase:

It obviously depends very much on the weather at your destination, reason for travel and the season in which you'll be traveling. The weather here in southern Germany is very similar to the weather we have in western Pennsylvania. Leaving at the very beginning of June and returning in mid July, I was expecting some nicer spring weather which would hopefully turn into full on summer at some point during the trip.  This is what I packed:

  • pair of comfortable wide leg jeans
  • pair of skinny jeans
  • pair of colored denim
  • pair of comfortable cropped pants made from a light cotton

  • light cotton short sleeve sweater
  • sweatshirt
  • 2 cardigans
  • blazer

  • gingham shirt
  • plaid shirt
  • patterned tee
  • white tee
  • gray tee
  • two long sleeve shirts
  • cute tank top

  • flowy pleated skirt
  • colored denim skirt
  • maxi skirt
  • khaki shorts
  • denim cut-offs
  • knee length shorts

These are the basic items I would pack for a trip like this. 
In general I recommend you pack something for every sort of weather because you just never know what's going to happen.

Other items to pack:

  • rain coat/umbrella
  • a simple purse or bag that goes with everything 
  • shoes: flats, sandals/flip-flops, a pair of comfortable heels and shoes you can walk in for a while like tennis shoes or sneakers
  • toiletries (pack in your suitcase to avoid the hassle with TSA)
  • a hat (rain or shine)
  • a light scarf (great on a long flight and to keep warm)
  • of course don't forget the socks and underwear ;)
  • swimwear 
  • sunglasses and sunscreen
  • camera
  • hair dryer if your hotel doesn't have one
  • chargers and international power adapters


  • i always fill extra space with additional tops. especially for a summer trip they are super light and small and you can always use another shirt.
  • don't overpack and leave some room for souvenirs or clothes you may buy while abroad or even just in another city.
  • bring a luggage scale to avoid costly charges for excess baggage or overweight bags
  • when traveling abroad with connecting flights pack an overnight bag (carry-on) in case you get stuck. unfortunately, you may miss a connecting flight and get booked on a flight that doesn't leave until the next day. be prepared for the possibility of spending a night in an airport hotel or even the terminal.
  • always wear layers on a long flight and bring a blanket if you get cold easily or if you're grossed out by airplane blankets and pillows. 
  • pack a snack - airplane food is horrible!
  • bring disinfecting wipes and wipe down your general area. you don't want a cold during your vacation. 
  • leave expensive jewelry at home to avoid losing it or possibly having it stolen.
  • if you're in the market for a new suitcase buy one in a bright color or pattern. yes, it may not look that great or match your sense of style but you will never search for your suitcase between all those black lookalikes at the baggage claim anymore. you can thank me later ;) 
  • make sure to put your address inside your suitcase as well as on the outside. memorize or write down the brand, size and color in case your bag gets lost and you have to give a description. 

Most of all: ENJOY YOUR TRIP :)

I'd be happy to answer questions so comment away or send me an email.

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  2. great tips! I totally love those space bags! I also use them to store my winter clothes during the hot months.

  3. i've never used the space saver bags before! does it help a little with the weight? we're going to the states for four weeks and we have to pack for 6. i want everyone to have their own bag to make it easier. you're coming here, and we're going to the states. fun!

    have a great trip back home!

  4. Great preparation! It is important to bring comfortable clothes that you can use while traveling. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Great blog, thanks for posting! When I go on holiday I feel like packing my whole house haha! When I moved last year I used Move My Stuff Stoke Removals who were really helpful, it's a shame they can't help me pack for holidays haha! :)

  6. Thanks for sharing awesome designer collection. actual im in plan to travel australia on Visit visa and looking for some good designer collection to buy before travel.

  7. Nice Collection!!! I also visit UK with my family and i want to look for good design collection to packing a suitcase.Thanks for posting.


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