Packing for a Long Trip

Our flight to London leaves in just three days (!!!!) which means it’s time for me to finish packing. I am a planner in pretty much all aspects of my life, and packing for a trip is no different. Procrastination stresses me out beyond belief, so I try to pack as far in advance as possible.

About a month before the trip, I started reviewing my wardrobe in my head, thinking about what I might bring and whether I needed to purchase anything for the upcoming trip. Last week, I nailed down my packing list, and this week, I’ve done laundry and started to lay everything out. Today, I’ll pack as much as possible, so that the day we leave, I only need to add in last minute items, like toiletries and makeup.

Spreading out the process of packing over the course of a few weeks helps keep the whole thing relaxed and stress-free, lets me debate whether I really need that extra sweater, and helps me remember one-off items that I might forget if I were packing last minute. I’ve been documenting my packing process on my Instagram stories, so check it out if you’re interested (@erinplansforeurope)! I use my home office as a “staging area”, where everything goes from being a complete disaster of clothes in a chaotic pile to a neatly organized suitcase.


As I’ve mentioned on Instagram, this trip will be three weeks long. We’re flying into London and spending a week there before we move on to York and the Ribble Valley. My husband and I are taking our 15-month old son on his first trip abroad, so even though my husband and I have been to London several times, this will be our first trip with a toddler. So much will be new and exciting, not the least of which is the packing.

Do you know how much stuff tiny humans need? I certainly didn’t before I became a mom. There are the clothes, of course, which are fortunately very small, but there are also blankets, stuffed animals, toys, bibs, bottles, sippy cups, snacks, and more. My packing checklist for the baby feels like it’s a mile long. You know how adamant I am that packing in a carry on suitcase is the way to go, so even with all the added baby items, that’s what we’re doing.

Yep, you heard me. My son and I are sharing a carry on suitcase for a three-week trip around England. We’ll be staying in apartments, so we will be able to do laundry (a true lifesaver and a “must have” for me when looking for places to stay), but there’s still an awful lot of stuff I need to cram into a small suitcase. With all the added baby items we’re having to bring, I am going with a very minimalist packing list.

Here’s my packing list for our three week trip around England:

  • 2 pairs of shoes (wear one on the plane, pack one)
  • 3 pairs of pants (wear one on the plane, pack two)
  • 4 long sleeve shirts
  • 1 short sleeve shirt (wear on the plane)
  • 2 lightweight sweaters (wear one on the plane, pack one)
  • 1 lightweight jacket with hood (wear on the plane)
  • 1 blanket scarf (wear on the plane, where it will do double duty as a blanket or pillow)
  • 10 pairs of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 3 camisoles
  • 1 pair of PJs
  • Toiletries and makeup

When it’s listed out like that, it looks like so much stuff! I may try and whittle it down even further, depending on how much space there is. I’ve picked items that are machine-washable (obviously), layer well, and color coordinate with each other. Everything I’m packing goes with everything else, which will give me a lot more versatility in creating outfits and will make getting dressed in the morning a breeze.

Packing for a long trip in a carry on takes a little more planning and preparation, but if you start thinking about your packing list ahead of time, it’s not a big deal. Once you travel with just a carry on, you’ll realize you didn’t miss all that extra stuff anyway, and you’ll be so thankful you don’t have to lug a huge suitcase around!




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