How to Pack for your Next Vacation

How to Pack for your Next Vacation

The Perfect Bag for Commuters Reading How to Pack for your Next Vacation 8 minutes Next Insider's Guide to Cuba

Hey Sapahn lovers! My name’s Cahner and I’m a travel loving, photography enthusiast studying journalism and global studies at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Better yet, I’m a marketing intern at Sapahn! Like I mentioned, I love to travel and I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of places while I’m still in school. I’ve been to 20+ countries spanning three continents. From beach vacation to icy winter-wonderland- I've done it all and I've learned a LOT along the way. 

This also means I have become a pro at packing. Usually I end up packing very last minute because let’s face it, we’re all super busy trying to get everything in order before we leave, and packing is the least fun part of the trip anyways. Today I'm giving you all my packing advice. I go through the same routine whether I'm going on a short weekend trip or long international vacation. Read on to get all my insider tips! 

Pre-travel routine

Create a packing list

My preparation usually starts weeks before I leave. I start making a list of clothes I want to bring and any destination-specific things I can’t forget (foreign currency, plug adapters). I start a list on my phone way before I actually start packing because I know something new will always pop into my brain. Two weeks before departure, I may remember to buy snacks for the plane, but since that’s not a typical packing item, I would forget to actually pack it if they weren’t on my list.

So list-making is a long, drawn out process, but starting early also helps me plan ahead to know what electronics need to be charged, what clothes need to be washed, etc. A few days before departure I start getting everything organized. I’m a very visual person (see my other blog post + video) so although I have my list, I also like to see everything laid out.

How I go about packing

Make piles when planning what to pack

Make piles

I have a routine of making piles for the things I need to pack: a pile for pants, pile for shirts, swimwear and towel, and so on. Putting things into packing piles also reminds me not to wear that clothing item in the few days before departure, so I have completely fresh clothes for my trip and I’m not rushing to do laundry the night before my flight (been there done that, though). There are, of course, things that you will need to use until right before departure such as toiletries, so I don’t bother making a pile for those things. Finally, I pack everything up the night before departure.


Things I can't travel without

The Rodica tote and Marianne crossbody make for the perfect travel duo

When flying to your destination you can carry two bags on board with you: a carry-on and a personal item. A carry-on is the bigger bag and goes in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. The personal item is the smaller bag. 


What's in my carry-on?

Aside from your main suitcase, the other bags you’ll have to pack is your carry-on bag/personal item. This part is always essential to me because flying can be so uncomfortable, and boring, and just all around unpleasant at times. If you pack the right carry-on, however, it can be a lot less painful.

For my spring break trip this year, I brought the Rodica backpack as my carry-on, and the iPad

  • Book
  • Journal
  • Water bottle
  • Phone charger
  • Granola bars
  • Camera
  • All 7 of these items fit perfectly into the Rodica tote!


    What's in my personal bag?

    In my Marianne are the items that I will need on an immediate basis. These include:

    1. Phone
    2. Headphones
    3. EOS chapstick
    4. Pen
    5. Boarding pass/passport

    Carry-on items in the Marianne crossbody

    I also love this bag combination because if I need to condense, or just don’t want to hold two bags, then I throw the Marianne into the tote and I’m done!

    My expert tips

    I've learned a few things about packing and being on the road, and I've learned most of those things the hard way! Here are a few general travel tips to always keep in mind, no matter where your destination is. 


    Keep your money and IDs in different places

    You never know when your bag will get lost or stolen, and you never want to end up in a strange city with no money or ID. I always keep one credit card + cash in my backpack, and another card + cash in my crossbody. In addition to that, don't keep your drivers license in the same place as your passport. If your bag gets lost or stolen, you'll need to have backup money and ID to use. 


    Leave the keys at home

    Unless you drove yourself to the airport, there's no need to bring your car keys with you on a trip. It's all about covering your tracks if you lose a bag, and losing your keys would be just another thing you'd have to deal with. Separate your house key from your other keys and store that in your hotel room or Airbnb for safekeeping. Write yourself a note to remember where it is! If a friend or family member is picking you up from the airport, you can also leave your house key with them.


    Once you arrive, don't carry your passport around

    I learned this one the hard way. Story time: Last year I got a cool new passport case which also had slots for my credit cards and cash. While in Iceland I was using it as a wallet and accidentally lost it, along with my passport. I lost my passport, a credit card and some cash, but luckily I still had my drivers license and another credit card that I had kept in a different bag. Thankfully Iceland is probably the best country to lose your passport in, and I still got home okay. Moral of the story: once you arrive in your destination, keep your passport safely at the hotel.


    Always bring warm clothes, always bring cold clothes

    When I was in freezing Iceland, I wore shorts and t-shirt around our hotels. When I was in sunny Costa Rica, nights were so chilly that I needed long pants and a sweater. The point is that you should never limit yourself to ONLY sweaters or ONLY shorts. Prepare yourself for everything. 


    Bring a dedicated plane outfit

    Nothing is worse than dirtying all your clothes on the trip, and then having to wear them on the plane home. Pick one outfit to be your plane outfit. Wear it on the way there, then don't touch it again until your day of departure. 


    Where I traveled

    This packing post was written based on a recent trip I took to Cuba this spring! Here's a real example of how I followed all my tips above. Cuba has a very warm climate so my packing was mostly shorts, sundresses and swimsuits. My passport + money was kept in my Marianne while going through the airport, then put in my big suitcase for safekeeping after I landed in Cuba. My dedicated plane outfit was leggings, a tank top, and a gray cardigan. In addition, I brought a sweater and second pair of leggings because I knew nights/hotels might be cold inside. 


    Marianne crossbody in Cuba


    Now you’re all experts at utilizing your Sapahn bags for travel and packing like a pro. Check out our Omega Leather Collection to find the bag that works best for your style and travel needs, as well as this post about the best Sapahn bags for commuters.