Packing for a trip can be overwhelming, but we are here to help you not overpack, because nothing is worse than that.
First things first, check the weather where you are going. Once you know what the weather is like, you can plan if you need warm weather clothes or cold weather clothes.
I am guilty myself of just packing tops and bottoms that I like and not thinking about how they go together, but packing became a million times easier when I started planning full outfits. Packing outfits can be as easy as grabbing a favorite pairs of jeans or shorts and a few tops to mix and match. It doesn't have to be a daunting coordinated look.
I like to start by grabbing a few of my favorite items that match the weather where I'm headed. If I am going to visit my family in Northern California in the summer, I will pack shorts and pants, because it cools down at night. So I would have a few pairs of shorts/skirts/dresses and just a single pair of jeans because I am not wearing them majority of the time, just at night. The weather really is important to be prepared for, make sure you know the average highs and lows and how humidity effects the temps too.
After I grab a few pieces that I love, I see what I have that is versatile to pair with those favorites. I try to only pack one or two things that do not match other clothes that are being packed. By focusing on basics that match other items, I can maximize packing less through mixing and matching.
Don't forget a plane ride outfit.
Don't forget to pack a comfortable outfit for the plane ride to get to your destination and then one to get back. Planes are full of germs, so you want to make sure these pieces are only worn on the plane ride. I love a comfortable pair of leggings for plane rides, because I get cold on the plane and want to have my legs covered. Also, leggings fold up super small so they take up hardly any room in my suitcase when I am not wearing them (bike shorts could be a good option too).
I also bring on the plane a sweatshirt/jacket, especially when traveling with a coat so that it takes up less room in my suitcase. If you are headed somewhere snowy or cold, you'll want it once you get off the plane too. Add a comfy fuzzy pair of socks for the plane ride and you are set!
Other items to pack.
I always travel with an eye mask, I have a hard time sleeping when there is light so this has been one of the best things I can bring. If you're the same way, pack it and if you don't need it that's okay because it's super small and won't take up too much space.
I also always travel with sunscreen. I personally love the tiny sunscreen sticks, they are solid sunscreen so they are TSA approved and great to add SPF coverage in the snow or sun.
Snacks! I cannot begin to tell you how helpful it has been to always travel with a granola or snack bar on trips. Whether you have dietary restrictions, are diabetic, or just stuck somewhere on your trip with not a lot of food options. Taking a few bars along for the trip can come in handy.
By packing extra, I don't mean overpack, but I do mean pack at least an extra day or two of underwear and a t-shirt. You never know if your flight might get canceled or something spills on your top and you have to use that extra tee. Just packing one extra shirt and some undies will not take up too much space, but will definitely come in handy if something unexpected comes up.
Less is definitely more with shoes. Pack one pair for practical outings (walking around a lot) and a pair for dressier occasions and you should be set.
Bring one fancy outfit always.
I always recommend bringing one dressier outfit always. You never know when you might be headed to a nice restaurant or to an event that you didn't realize required fancy attire. It doesn't hurt to pack one nice dress just in case!
Leave some space.
Notice that your suitcase is jammed full and you haven't even left for your trip? Go and remove a few items ASAP. You will want to leave space to return home with a few items. You never know what you might find on your trip, so leave that space available. Do you really need two pairs of jeans when the weather will be warm and you could just bring one pair to wear a couple times?
Leave the hair dryer at home.
I highly recommend leaving large hair styling tools that a hotel might have at home. Even if they don't have the best hair dryer at the hotel, it still saves you a ton of space in your suitcase. Think about what tools are the basics that you absolutely need and only bring those.
Hope this helps and safe travels, my friends!