Packing Essentials: How to Pack For a Month

As you all learned a few posts ago, I am spending July in Switzerland! One downside to this is ...the packing. Packing for a month-long trip can feel overwhelming and stressful. After all these years, I still have not learned to start packing in advance. Instead, I wait a day or two before leaving, to frantically destroy my closet looking for the perfect outfits to bring.

The variable climate of my destination makes it even more challenging. Switzerland is nice during the summer, but it can still go from the upper 80s to low 50s in a matter of days. The rain is also unpredictable. Essentially, when packing for this type of weather, bring LAYERS. What do layers mean? It means that you are going to wind up stuffing 3 suitcases full if you aren't strategic. So I thought I would walk you through my packing process to help anyone out there prepping for an upcoming month long trip to a variable climate destination.

1. Bring 7 day’s worth of outfits - This does not mean you have to wear different items for each outfit. However, I find it easiest to pair multiple items together to create a new look. This will help you avoid over packing, while not getting sick of wearing the same outfit every day.

2. Plan for the weather - Depending on the time of the year and where you are going, you may have to plan for less than pleasant weather. I always pack a raincoat wherever I go. A warmer jacket usually gets stuffed somewhere for my trips to Switzerland, because you never know when a chilly day will sweep through. Of course, it could get hotter than expected so try to throw in a few pieces that will help you get through the (hotter) days on you trip.

3. Pack plenty of underwear - Pack at least 7 day’s worth, if not more. If you have a reliable source for washing cloths during your trip, 7 day’s worth should be plenty. I try to avoid the sense of panic when I can't find any clean ones in my suitcase, especially when I am where I can't easily wash clothes. They don't take much room, so the more the better.

4. Don't bring more than 3 pairs of shoes - Just don't. Trust me. You won't need as many as you think. Bring a pair of good walking shoes, some casual sandals, and a third pair depending on where you are heading. For me, that's hiking boots (duh). The fewer shoes you bring, the more room you will have for everything else. Shoes are bulky and awkwardly shaped, so they end up taking more room than is necessary.

Pro Tip: Stuff your underwear and socks into your shoes to conserve space.

5. Be realistic - I know a month sounds like a long time, but don't try to pack all the books you have been meaning to get to. Think about how many you can usually read in a month, and maybe pack one extra. For most people that will range from 1-4 books. Like shoes, they are bulky and heavy, so don't lose precious packing space because you envisioned yourself reading 10 books on your vacation. This can be used towards anything you pack. Be honest with yourself about how much you really need something, and if it actually has to come with you.

In addition to the items mentioned above, be sure to make room for the things that you must have. For myself, that is a laptop and a camera. Both are heavy and valuable, so I keep them in my carry on. That means I will pack all my books into my checked luggage, since on this trip, I plan on sleeping on the flight anyways. Of course don't forget essentials like face wash, toothbrush, and a mini-toothpaste. Think about what you can buy once you arrive to make packing easier for yourself. I plan on bringing travel size face wash, moisturizer, and deodorant in my hand-luggage. However, I plan on buying things like shampoo after I arrive. It might sound like a small thing to not pack, but trust me, every item makes a difference.

In the end, my best advice is to pack as light as you can. Just dragging your bags around the airport, especially if you have to change planes or go through customs more than once, can make you quickly regret packing those extra items you felt you NEEDED. The last thing you want is to arrive already in a bad mood! Besides, you can always find what you need at your final destination.

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