How I Pack for Trips

Hey guys! If you follow along on Instagram then you may already know that I’m in Aruba! While I was packing for this trip, I took a few quick pictures of my “process.” I travel every single month at least one or two times, so I have it down to a science. Everyone probably has their own methods for packing, so this is what I’ve found works really well for me! 

I LIVE by lists! I usually make two different lists before I start packing: the first list is for the different types of outfits I’ll need on the trip. For example, if I’m heading to a two day blogging conference, I would put on my list two professional outfits for each day of the conference, one workout outfit, and one nice dress for dinner. For this trip to Aruba, I knew I needed several casual outfits, several bathing suits and then some nicer outfits for dinner.
The second list I make is slightly different but just as essential. I divide all of the outfits into categories: tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, accessories, and handbags. This is where I plan out the specific outfits that I bring with me (making sure that every “event” on the first list is covered). I bought this notebook from Target and it has really come in handy for making lists. I reserved the pink portion on the right for everything that I needed to pack in my carry-on suitcase. I then cross off items as I put them into my suitcase.
Another things that REALLY helps me to pack is to go ahead and plan out my outfits ahead of time. I create a new album on my iPhone with the travel destination (so this album would be called “Aruba 2018”) and then I try on all of my outfits, complete with their accessories, and take pictures to add to the album. This helps TREMENDOUSLY! First of all, it lets me think through everything ahead of time and know which handbags, shoes, earrings and necklaces to bring for each outfit. Secondly, when I’m on the trip, it makes it really easy to decide what to wear. If I’m getting ready for dinner, I simply flip through the photos in my photo album and pick an outfit! 

It also is really helpful to keep your suitcase really organized while you’re packing. If I’m bringing hats on a trip, I usually stuff socks into the head part, and then lay them flat in my suitcase. I then pack everything around the hats. I hate carrying hats through the airport so this is a much better alternative (and don’t worry, your hats won’t get ruined!). Some people prefer to roll their clothes and find that it fits better in the suitcase this way, but I like folding them! I also prefer to keep all of the jeans together, all of the dresses together, all of the bathing suits together, etc. 

Anything that I could POSSIBLY need during the flight, I keep in my carry-on bag. I always pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lens case and an extra change of clothes and underwear. If I’m headed to a tropical location I will pack an extra swimsuit. I also like to keep any technology-related items (my camera, phone chargers, cords, etc.) in my carry-on, as well as any valuables like nice jewelry. 
Those are some quick tips but if you have any others I’d love to hear them! Comment below with your best packing tip so we can all read them and be inspired. 🙂


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  1. By now, you're a packing pro! Thanks for this lovely post!

  2. Such a fantastic post (well I would think so since I already do ever step you mentioned lol). I think packing is very overwhelming for a lot of people and you've simplified it perfectly. I hope you have a fabulous trip!

    Arum Lilea

  3. I have always been an overpacker, packing extra outfits in case i want to wear something different. But this past trip we took, I brought an outfit for every day with top changes. For instance, we planned to go for a hike (never made it), but I was going to change boots and put on a jacket for lunch (it was cold and a short hike so I didn’t think we’d get sweaty). I also laid all the outfits around the bed and then I took a video of what I was wearing with what. It really helped. I hate trying on clothes but i can see where that’s beneficial! Thanks for the tips!

  4. I'm doing pretty the same with an excel sheet 🙂
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  5. Love the idea of taking pictures of each outfit before you leave!! I like to pack each outfit in the order that I plan to wear them so that I can just pull out what’s on top!

  6. Can't wait to see these outfit posts!! Can you link the blue and white top? Have a great time! 🙂

  7. Do you check that luggage? Or are you flying private? How would you keep it nice and white?

    • I second this question, love the white, but really nervous about trying to keep it clean.

  8. Thanks for sharing your packing tips.

  9. My best packing tip is to pack as light as possible and ONLY carry-on. I've made it through 2 weeks in Europe with no checked luggage many times. You never need as much as you think you do and I don't hair dryers/straighteners/curlers in my daily life so I definitely do not on vacation. I also wear less makeup. Trips are for relaxing, IMHO.

    I plan a lot of trips with a friend who lives in LA and I live in Chicago. We swear by Google docs and do all of our planning, itinerary, reservation logging, and packing lists in shared spreadsheets.

  10. These are great tips! Taking a photo helps a lot!

  11. I'm about the packing lists! I use Google Docs and have a similar strategy. I packed for Iceland in a carry on a few weeks ago and couldn't have done it without a list. A friend gave me packing cubes for Christmas and those were a game changer!

  12. Thanks for the tips. I’ll try these out in a few weeks when I travel to CA. Packing cubes were a big help last time I traveled. I think making lists, taking pictures of your outfits on you (so you actually try on everything first!) as well as putting an extra change of clothes in your carry on are a great ideas.

    • +1 on the packing cubes. I keep my packing list in my “recipe” app. Packing is a lot like cooking. You have lots of little ingredients, but mentally they tend to get combined in certain groups and in a certain order. I found this way of organzing more intuitive than a non hierarchical “notes” entry on my iPhone.

  13. I love the idea of making out a packing check list!


  14. I could survive out of a backpack, but my husband is another story…ha! We have to trim things back a little bit when he tries to pack. 🙂

  15. I tend to overpack because one time, I didn't pack enough and didn't have time to shop so I had to make do with what I had. I also overpack in case I don't want to wear what I have planned. I guess that's the indecisive Libra in me, lol!

    I'm with you on packing valuables and an extra set of clothes with me on my carry-on. Years ago, my friends and I went on a European cruise and my bff didn't pack an extra outfit in her carry on (like I told her to because it's one of my biggest fears when traveling) and they lost her luggage! She didn't have her clothes for days and had to borrow our other friend's clothes until they found her luggage! Great reminder for me, lol! These are great tips, Caitlin! I love the idea of taking outfit photos before a trip! My tips would be to make copies of your ID and passport and give it to a loved one to have in case something happens while you're away. The second copy needs to be stored in a concealed area in your luggage/carry on in case your real passport gets stolen. My dad taught me that. Oh and travel insurance. My friend (and mind you, he's SUPER healthy and fit) was hiking and had a stroke on top of a mountain and him and his wife are so thankful they had travel insurance while he was in the hospital in a different country. I hope this helps anyone who travels abroad! xo

    She Sweats Diamonds

  16. I LOVE the idea of taking pictures of your outfits! Such a great idea!!

    Kim .. Tip Tuesday – Cheap Flights!

  17. I'm totally the same! I absolutely live for lists, they help me organise everything!

    I hope you've had a great Tuesday!

  18. I totally need that journal! I usually use post it notes LOL!

  19. Love these tips! I definitely tend to overpack even if I make a list haha!


  20. I need to start making a list! I swear there is always SOMETHING I forget, lol 

  21. You must get the the Pack This pad! They sell it on Amazon. It's a detailed packing check list and is a total game changer!
    Love your luggage!

  22. Love these ideas! I just purchased the 21" Delsey luggage after eyeing your posts for years, but now I'm worried….does the carry on fit in most overhead bins? I only do carry on so it's pretty important to me that it fits. Do you carry on and if so, have you had any trouble thus far? Thanks!!

  23. This is a great packing guide. I’ve always been a little nervous to pack hats in my suitcase, but now I can’t do it without worrying – so thanks! I also use my phone a lot for my wardrobe (I keep images of all my pieces in an album for easy reference), so I need to try your idea of pre-planning vacay looks. Good call.

    XO, Kate

  24. Caitlin,

    Love your suggestions. Where did you get those pink and white striped PJs? I couldn't make out the label. Thank you!

  25. I’d love to see how you also pack in things like your makeup, hair tools, etc. And where you put your shoes. That one always gets me. Haha

  26. Excellent post! I love the photo tips, will start takings pics for next vacation.