Pack Like You Mean It

The big trip is two days away. It’s time to start packing! I’m not an over-packer, per se, but I always seem to end up with a few unworn shirts happily resting in my suitcase by the end of the trip. I can also be…how shall I put this…a bit absentminded. I’ll pack contact lenses and contact solution, but forget the case. Bring appropriate shoes, but no socks. Sigh.

I’ve found it helpful to write down a master list of everything I’ll need on a trip, divided into sections: clothes, toiletries, medicine, etc. It’s also helpful for me to visualize my daily routine as I write items down. That way, I’m less prone to forgetting an essential item. Every time I buy a cheap $5 hairbrush when abroad, a little part of my budget travel soul dies inside. My trip to Ireland will be 13 days total. I salute you men, with your (usual) lack of jewelry & moisturizers, shoes for all occasions, and grab-pants-and-go attitudes. Without further ado, here is my list.


  • 1 jacket (fleece, warm yet breathable)
  • 1 rain shell (essential!)
  • Leggings & shirt (plane travel)
  • 2 pants
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 tights
  • 6 shirts
  • 1-2 sweaters
  • Bunch of socks (Including wool socks. It will be cold and wet.)
  • Undisclosed undergarments (Use your imaginations, kids).
  • 2 scarves (I’m addicted to scarves).
  • Pajama shirt & bottom

Shoes:  The weather will be in the 40s, overcast, and rainy. I’m not a fancy shoe gal. Hence, I’m bringing:

  • Rain boots
  • Tall boots
  • Short boots (It’s all about the boots).


  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap (& soap case)
  • Toothbrush (& case)
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Face wash
  • Moisturizer
  • Other lotion (winter is not kind to my skin)
  • Eye care: contact lens case, solution, glasses, glasses case.
  • Hairbrush

Makeup & Jewelry: If you can travel light with this, it’s a good idea. I bring the basics:

  • Blush & brush
  • Makeup
  • Mascara
  • Eyeliner
  • Lip balm (Bert’s Bees!!!!!!!!!)
  • 2 earrings
  • 2 necklaces (I’m not a bracelet/ring gal).
  • *Hair elastics (I am recently short-haired, so won’t be needing these! However, this used to be a travel essential).

Medicine: If there’s one thing you do NOT want to forget, it’s your medicine!

  • Advil (a big dose of this, combined with my meds, can help lessen a migraine headache for me. Also, I guarantee someone else you encounter will have cramps/splitting headache/other aches and will ask you for ibuprofen).
  • Migraine medications


  • iPhone & charger (planning to use iPhone as camera, recorder, & for email as necessary)
  • Irish mobile & charger (will top up for 20 euro and use as phone; simpler than switching the iPhone over for a short length of time)
  • Plug converter
  • Headphones

Essentials: This is up there with medications. You CANNOT forget these puppies.

  • Passport
  • Plane tickets/boarding pass
  • Cash & bank card
  • Snacks. Tons of snacks. SO many snacks. Snacks ward off hanger and headaches.
  • Earplanes (earplug-like things that help ears adjust to pressure changes because my ears are delicate flowers)


  • Nail clipper (only in your checked bag, of course)
  • iPod (I’ll use my phone)
  • Towels (if you’re not sure your destination provides them)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Ear plugs (for the plane and if your destination has noisy nightlife)

I plan to have one checked bag and one small carry-on bag with my essentials: meds, snacks, passport, instruments, and so on. What are your travel packing tips? Are you an over packer, an under packer, or the rare and beautiful perfect packer? Let me know, and bon voyage!

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