Packing my suitcase – travelling light

January again. It feels like only yesterday I was writing posts like this one on Lean January. This year we are doing something a lot different and heading away on our travels which raises the burning question – where do you even start to plan when you are packing a suitcase for several months of travelling? Better still how do you pack when you usually have the kitchen sink in your bags? This is my essential guide to packing my suitcase – travelling light for anyone planning on taking a trip. It is a post that has been a long time in the making therefore I wrote this guide will help you make great choices when packing for a trip no matter how long you go.

I started off my planning by conducting hours of research. What did others take when they travelled? Is there a “set” list of things to pack and if so would these be suitable for us?

I finally broke it down to the following points:

  1. Where are we going?
  2. The first draft of packing your suitcase – travelling light
  3. Toiletries & Make up
  4. Cutting Back on unnecessary items
  5. Random necessities
  6. Finally packing the suitcase


Stage 1 – Where are we going and what will we need?

So firstly we need to decide on how long the trip is. My first trip will last for approximately 4-5 months. We are planning to travel to NYC during winter and travel around the United States crossing into Canada and then driving across Canada. Finally on the way home we are hoping to stop in Iceland for a week (maybe 2!)

So the weather is going to be mostly cold. We are travelling in January – May so we will encounter snow. This means that we have to have heavy coats, scarves, gloves to keep us warm. We will also need suitable footwear for this. December through to February is considered to be the coldest temperatures in the United States so warm clothing is a must. However we will be visiting Florida at the end of February where the temperature can be 20+ degrees. We then travel to New Orleans, Houston, Las Vegas and Los Angeles where the weather will continue to be warm before heading north into Canada and cooler weather so I have to allow for both warm and cold climates.

After lots of internet research I concluded that it would be in our best interests to pack the essentials for 7-10 days worth of clothing at a time and simply visit laundromats to launder our clothes. I bought a huge zipped laundry shopper bag for a couple of pounds that folds into nothing for just this reason. It can be easily transported between hotel/laundromat and means I don’t have to air my dirty laundry in public. Haha!

Stage 2 – The first draft of packing your suitcase – travelling light

This is what our first draft packing list looks like so far:



4 pairs jeans

4 pairs trousers/jeans

5 T-shirts

5 plain vest tops

3 long sleeve tops

3 long sleeve tops

Swimming shorts


10 pairs underwear

10 pairs underwear & 3 bras

towel towel

pair of boots & trainers

pair of boots & trainers

2 pairs shorts

2 dresses & 1 fancy top


As you can see there is a lot of clothes on here and bear in mind we only have a 20kg case between us. Realistically this stage is so important as it allows you to see what room you have within the case and how much room certain items take.


Stage 3 – Toiletries & Make up

This stage is a no brainer. We will be travelling round the states and although we do have a couple of internal flights, I will just purchase shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant and shower gel when we arrive from CVS or any drug store although I do have a couple of travel sizes to get us started which take up practically no space at all.

Makeup is something that I have had to consider when packing my suitcase and although I have completely pared back my makeup bag I still wanted to look and feel good. So my essentials are as follows:

  • moisturiser (I am bring my face halo to cleanse with)
  • foundation
  • brow pencil
  • concealer
  • bronzer
  • blush
  • mascara & eyeliner
  • lipstick

This may seem like a lot but it all fits nicely into a small makeup bag and if I use these products while away then I will probably not have to carry them home as they will be finished. Dare I say that this is a good excuse to hit ULTA and SEPHORA??

Stage 4 – Cutting back on unnecessary items

So now that we have packed the case with what we think we need it is time to cut that backhand really take only the items we actually need. For me this means the fancy top that I will probably never wear and probably one of the dresses too as lets face it I am much more of a trousers (pants)  gal! I have also decided not to waste space packing towels. The accommodation we have booked will have towels for us to use for bathing and to be honest I can pick up a couple of cheap beach towels for use in the warmer climates.

You would also be surprised at how much extra space is freed up by removing a pair of trousers each! This just means we will have to wash our clothes more frequently but its less to lug around and it probably only an extra 2/3 trips to the laundromat in total – no big deal. We will also be wearing an outfit when we travel therefore we had a choice to either take the extra pair of trouser out of the case or wear them when we travelled. Some people like to travel in  sweats/tracksuits which is perfectly fine but we decided to travel in our 4th pair of trousers.

I also decided to buy us both casual trainers when we reach America. We both needed new trainers and rather than purchase here to carry over, I thought it better to buy when we got there. This freed up more essential space within the case.

Stage 5 – Random Necessities

Most of these items speak for themselves but it is always good to include them on the essential suit packing list as they may be something you have not considered.

Owen packed a couple of sporks which will be handy to use when we have to eat on the go.

I then picked up a hotel door alarm wedge (to keep us secure at night) from Amazon. This will give me a little more peace of mind being a woman travelling alone with a kid (even though he is man-sized!)

It is also worth considering technology within this point. I was of course taking my iphone and Owen his iPad, but we had chargers etc to consider. My Macbook is also coming with us so I can work while travelling as well as my mouse and charger. We purchased a USA plug adapter as well. These will be packed within our hand luggage as they are too valuable to pack in the suitcase.

Stage 6 – Finally packing the suitcase

As the end of this post draws near (yay I hear you say!) you will have become a lot more in tune with the items you feel make up your own essential guide to packing my suitcase – travelling light. It can be scary paring the list back and not over packing but I promise that you will thank yourself for this when you have to lug your suitcase up a flight of stairs or you treat yourself to some new clothes at the nearest outlet mall. Think of this as the basic essential list around which you now have the freedom to build on. You don’t need to feel guilty about buying that dress, shoes or top as you have lots of room for it and you have considered your packing very carefully.

And Finally

I hope you enjoyed this very long and detailed post. It would be easy to adapt this list for two weeks in the sun or for backpacking around Europe for a summer. The key thing to remember is that you find out which items are your essentials and then build on that depending on the room/weight you have available. Be sure to keep an eye on our travels through our social pages:


  1. Life With Christine
  2. Instagram
  3. Facebook
  4. Twitter
  5. Linkedin
  6. Youtube


Thanks for reading








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