Domestic Packing Introduction (Seven Days or Less)
My first trip to Europe was to Spain in two thousand and seven and my luggage was lost for over a week. I was devastated, had to purchase new clothes and have not checked a bag since. I was traveling with my brother and had a breakdown three days into the trip after wearing the same thing day and night. We were going to the Mediterranean Sea the following day and I did not have a bathing suit. We ventured out of the city and went on a mini shopping spree, I had just what I needed. When I finally received my bag, I didn't need it any longer. Now I had too much stuff and was lugging it everywhere. This was one of the most valuable travel lesson I have learned and I am happy that it happened to me.
This experience taught me that you never need as much as you think that you do, that you can wear the same thing more than once and when you are sightseeing you don't really care what you are wearing as long as it is comfortable. I now only carry on my luggage and it works great. I always know where my things are, it is not hard carrying one suitcase around and I don't have to worry about my luggage being lost.
This is what I pack and it's easily altered to what you like to wear. This is for domestic travel for a week or less, what I pack internationally is slightly different and we will get to that another time.
This is what you need:
A good suitcase
I purchased this Penguin suitcase at TJMaxx and LOVE it! I prefer a hard shell with a zippered pouch on one side. This suitcase is permitted for domestic and international travel (domestic 22" x 14" x 9"/international 21" x 14" x 9" - international may vary depending on the airline).
For this trip my weather was going to be primarily in the high sixties, low seventies. I have three sweater/cardigans and a kimono. Three black pants, three tanks for under the sweaters and my pajamas. I also took six pair of underwear. If you like to wear jeans, you could replace one of the black pair of pants with jeans. Or if you like to wear dresses, you could replace a pair of pants with a dress. These make four outfits for seven days. It is okay to wear the same thing more than once and you should! At the last minute on this trip, I decided I had too many clothes and took one of the sweaters out and it was not a problem. You never need as much as you think.
My rule of thumb is three pairs of shoes (you can or cannot count the flip flops). I like to bring flip flops on most trips to use if I spend time in an outside area at the lodging or around the rental. For this trip, I felt like i just needed a pair of sandals and sneakers. It depends on where you were going. For this trip these worked out well. I also like to put them in their own tote/bag to keep them from getting the rest of the luggage dirty.
You should have a small just in case pouch. In my first aid/vitamin pouch I have Ear Plugs, Band Aids, Tums, Motion Sickness pills, Ibuprofen, Vitamins D and Magnesium. Depending on your needs this will vary, but make sure you at least pack Band Aids and Ear Plugs.
Necessities and intro to toiletries
I wear glasses so having my glasses and contacts is key. I also can't brush my teeth without my electric toothbrush. Recently I purchased a make up remover cloth and it was a game changer. I can use the one cloth my whole trip and wash it when I get back. I also put my deotorant in this pouch.
This is going to vary widely for everyone! The biggest thing for me since I carry on is having small containers. This is what I have in mine: soap (lasts longer than body wash), toothpaste, saline, purple shampoo (for blondes), conditioner, face wash, microderm face scrub. face serum, face moisturizer, sunscreen, dry shampoo, hair serum, leave in conditioner, perfume, rose face spritz and some random samples I've collected.
Again, this will vary for everyone. This is what I have in my makeup bag: eye brightener, eye primer, under eye concealer, face powder, blush, eyeshadow, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, eyelash curler and mascara.
I like to have a couple of ring and earring options. I don't wear other jewelry much.
Depending on what you are bringing but for this trip I needed a charger for my phone, iPod and tablet.
Odds and Ends
Kindle, blanket for picnics, magazines, itinerary, camera, notebooks and tablet.
Small Personal Item (for the plane)
For entertainment on the plane and as needed: extra charger, wallet, iPod, headphones, motion sickness pills, Rosebud (for dry lips), solid perfume, sunglasses, information needed when you land (rental car information, lodging info, etc) and I threw in a magazine and my kindle.
This is what the finished product looks like. This was for a week trip to California and I had everything I needed. Packing is always dependent on where you are going and for how long. That being said, this is the same bag I took to France for two and a half weeks. It's ALWAYS doable!