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How to Pack for Any Trip in 5 Steps

Author: Madeline Foord @madfo.o_travels


I’m thrilled to join the travel industry as a travel advisor--to share my experiences and stories as well as

help others plan the trip of their dreams. Beginnings are tricky, however, and the last time I crafted a blog post was junior year of high school, on Badminton, for my gym class final--don’t ask! So we’ll start with the basics, the foundation of every trip; your suitcase. From Teaching in Thailand to nannying in Italy and Mexico, to studying Innovation in France--ranging in durations of as little as 1 week to 3 month trips--I stick to the same packing routine every time.

Quick disclaimer, this is by no means a rule of thumb that you should follow. I would describe myself as a chaotically organized person, and this is just a walk through of my process. If it helps you in any way--even if it serves primarily as a cautionary tale--I’m happy to help! To save you time, and help you find what you’re looking for, steps 1-3 focus on the mindset I take leading up to a trip, and steps 4 and 5 deal with the execution of the packing process I follow every time.


Step 1 | Think about it

So your trip is booked, you’re excited, and you’re beginning to dream of all the fun stuff you’ll be doing soon. Great! This visualization process, I’ve discovered, starts to set things in motion. Plant those seeds of what you see yourself doing, and what you see yourself wearing while you do it. Do you see yourself hiking through the Alps, laying on the beach, exploring all the local museums? Entertain these images and play them out. Have fun with it, and make a mental note of what you see!

Step 2 | Make a rough list

When I say rough, I mean ROUGH. Mine usually are haphazard notes on the sides of scrap papers. Just start the process of writing down anything that comes to mind during your visualization process, and keep it in a high-traffic area so you can add stuff sporadically in passing.

Step 3 | Get your suitcase out

In line with keeping the list out in the open, I’ve found that simply keeping my suitcase out leading up to the trip engages those travel planning thought processes and helps the deep packing time go much quicker. To put this in context, I usually do this the week of departure.


Step 4 | Crank it into high-gear

At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of the items you want to bring. Now’s the time to dive in and devote a solid hour to packing. I roll everything to save space and use some simple packing cubes I found on Amazon for undergarments and socks. These also make great dirty clothes packs as the trip goes on. I know you should start with shoes on the bottom, but I usually pack clothes, then shoes, then more clothes, and top it off with books and beauty/health products like skincare and toothbrushes. I personally pack the night before, or the day of and add any remaining items I think of before I leave for the trip.

Step 5 | Non-negotiables

Steps 1-4 are a bit vague, so here is a concrete list of the things I bring every time and the rules I always follow.

When it comes to underwear, more is more.

Do not skimp on the ‘scibbies. There’s nothing worse than wearing them inside out or hand washing them in the sink of the train because you didn’t pack enough.

2 books, no more, no less.

Taking up precious suitcase realestate to bring books makes me feel obligated to at least crack one open. Having one on hand is a great way to pass the time on planes and trains or to activate ‘stealth mode’ when you’re busy people watching.


I can dive into this more in depth at a later date, but I usually get a tiny notebook before my trips. Here I write down all the travel information that pops up as I go--flight numbers, train times, important addresses and phone numbers, etc. And I also keep a bullet-list of my memories along the way.


Double check that you have ALL your necessary documents and ID’s before the trip. Then check again before you leave. I also print off copies of all my ID’s--passport and driver’s license--and store a couple print-outs in my checked bag and carry on, just in case.

An Extra Bag

This may depend upon your airline and carry on situation, but I always bring an oversized purse to stuff souvenirs in for my trip back, when my suitcase is bursting at the seams.


Always keep some cash on hand in case you stop at a market, or your bank locks you out of your account. Also, always notify your bank so they don’t lock you out!


That’s pretty much all there is to my packing process. As long as you have your passport, you can pick up most anything you forget along the way. Don’t worry, and have fun during this kick-off time of your trip. I hope this walk-through helped in some way, and if you have any questions or tips on ways you pack, please let me know!

If you have ideas on other blogs you’d like to see, send those my way too.

Thank you

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