How we pack for our trips

Prior to packing up the car to start our road trip to JFK Airport from Atlanta, we first had to pack our luggage! Even though I own a rolling suitcase, I have only used it on one trip – a Greyhound bus trip where I was able to fit a week’s worth of clothes for myself and my mother with room for souvenirs. With that in mind, I knew we could each pack a week’s worth of clothes, plus a DSLR into one duffel bag, per person.

The bag we both use is the Protege Expandable Duffel Bag in black from Wal-Mart. Coming in at 20 inches long when expanded, we’ve never had an issue getting this bag through security’s weight/size restrictions or having it as a carry-on. This affordable and sturdy bag fits all of our clothes, downsized camera gear (a Nikon 5100, 2 lenses [18-55mm & 55-200mm], 3 extra batteries, 4 SD cards, a suction cup tripod and a small Canon VIXIA HF R800 camcorder) and important travel documents (passport, driver’s license, print-outs of all reservations, directions to the US Embassy from the hotels, important contact information, etc.). Plus, at a cost of $9.87 per bag, you won’t break the bank.

Here’s how what I packed for a 4 day road trip (two days on each end) and 6 days in Europe.

  • 2 bras
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 1 extra pair of jeans
  • 3 T-Shirts
  • Sanitary napkins (my cycle was scheduled to start during the trip, but it didn’t)
  • 2 extra pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of flats
  • 2 lightweight dresses
  • A long, lightweight scarf
  • Shorts & a t-shirt (in place of pajamas)
  • Toiletries (travel-sized deodorant, toothpaste, shower cap & body lotion)
  • Flip-flops/shower shoes
  • 1 pair of heels (the one thing I regret packing)

Here’s what I wore on the road trip/plane ride:

  • Lightweight sneakers
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 T-shirt
  • 1 pullover sweater (that I put on once we reached colder temperatures)
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • Flip-flops/shower shoes
  • Undergarments (bra and underwear)

During the trip, we made sure to wash our undergarments in the hotel sink each night and dry them on the heater so they’d be ready to place back in the bag. We also each packed an empty grocery bag to place our shoes in (so the dirt wouldn’t get on our clothes).

One way we saved room in our bag was to use the body soap and towels provided by the hotel (the towels took some getting used to for me since I can be a clean freak). Also, we kept the blankets and pillows that were passed out during our flight; this way, we didn’t have to spend extra money on neck pillows.

Now, you may notice that I packed a long, lightweight scarf in my bag. This simple accessory had multiple uses during our trip; not only did I use it to wrap around my neck for a chic fashion statement, but I also used it as a head wrap on days I didn’t want to style my hair. Being that I rock my natural hair and do my best to avoid heat styling, I had to get creative with my regimen. During our 10 day trip, I filled a small, 1 ounce jar with my homemade shea butter/coconut oil whip to moisturize my hair and packed it along with a wide-toothed comb (for light detangling), a rat-tailed comb (to part my hair), a handheld mirror (to make sure the parts were straight) and plenty of hairpins (at least 20). This allowed me to change my look up throughout the trip!

Here’s what Joel packed in his duffel bag (guys typically pack lighter than ladies, so we used his extra room for our camera gear):

  • 4 pairs of underwear
  • 1 extra pair of pants
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 2 button-up shirts
  • 2 extra pairs of socks
  • Shorts & a t-shirt (in place of pajamas)
  • Toiletries (travel-sized deodorant & toothpaste)

Here’s what he wore on the road trip/plane ride

  • Lightweight loafers
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 T-shirt1 long-sleeved jacket
  • 1 pair of slacks
  • Underwear

Now, you may be asking “Why should I pack a duffel bag instead of a suitcase? I’m glad you asked! A duffel bag will (almost) always fit underneath the seat or in the overhead compartment (there are some monster-sized duffel bags available in stores, so check your airline’s carry-on/overhead size requirements before purchasing). Plus, if you are in boarding group 4 or higher, there’s a chance the overhead compartments will be occupied by wheeled suitcases before you board the plane. If you follow our guideline above, you should be able to fit 5 days worth of clothing in your duffel!

And that’s it! You now know how to save, book and pack for your trip! Check out our next post where we hit the road and begin our European adventure!

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