Or should I say, what NOT to pack? We are always encouraged to pack light. But as seniors, it’s especially important. Rick Steves says, “When you pack light, you’re younger.” So how?

Consider Luggage

If you can, fit it all in a carry-on and a day pack. A challenge, I know, but if you’re the one hauling it place to place, it’s a challenge worth meeting. Most airlines charge for checked luggage these days. With a carry-on you reduce your travel costs and speed up your exit from the airport. With less luggage to keep track of, you may also be less vulnerable to theft. Check out the article called, “Pack 20 Outfits in One Carry-On.” In it, Jess Atkins gives great step-by-step methods to pare down your packing list, including giving thought to where and what you’re doing, and also help selecting a color palette. If you want general packing help, you might invest in tear-off packing lists. They cover everything and you can cross out what you know you don’t need.

How to Downsize Your Packing

Here are some tips:

  • Do laundry more often. Rinse out your under garments each night. Try using laundry/packing bags to more easily organize, pack, and wash your delicates.
  • Bring a few scarves and a little jewelry to accessorize basic outfits: black pants and/or skirt and a nice top. You can find a small jewelry bag here that will accommodate scarves also.
  • A good pair of walking shoes is a must—wear them on the plane to save luggage space. Additionally, pack a pair of flip flops for beach, hotel room, and shower, and a pair of flat shoes to dress up a bit. Recommend you try Amazon or Zappos for all your footwear needs.
  • Pack a rain poncho that fits into its own pouch. It’ll cover you and your backpack, will add a little warmth, and should dry quickly to repack when the showers stop. You can find one on Amazon for about $18.00, available in many cool colors, that’s light and fast drying.
  • Unless you’re traveling to the tropics where you can depend on warm weather, you might consider a hooded down jacket with pockets for storage that compresses into its own pocket to save space. You can browse here on Amazon for one that fits the bill.

What Goes in the Suitcase?

Coordinate your outfits by color and garment so that you can add or remove layers. And roll everything you can before you put it in the case. Here’s a sample list of what to pack:

  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeve t-shirt
  • 1 sleeveless dress than can be turned into a long sleeve dress by adding the long sleeve t-shirt. This dress on Amazon is so versatile and comfy, and comes in many colors/patterns for only around $30.00.
  • 1 lightweight jacket. See above for a suggestion on a stuffable down jacket.
  • 2 travel pants, one nice, preferably wrinkle free that will endure a long flight, one pair of travel-fabric (you know, the fabric that dries quickly)
  • 1 pair of black leggings that can also be added to the long dress and used for workouts
  • 1 swimming suit
  • Sarong – it can fill so many needs: a dress, a skirt, a top, a shawl, and a cover up at the beach, or beach towel.
  • 4 changes of underwear
  • 2 bras
  • 1 nightgown or pj’s
  • 2 scarves
  • 4 pairs of socks, two low, two ankle height
  • Toiletries (Check here for a good toiletries travel bag.)
    • Shampoo, conditioner, soap, and moisturizer bars (the bars last longer and reduce weight and cost)
    • Sunscreen stick
    • Deodorant
    • Toothbrush, floss, and travel size toothpaste (buy a regular-sized one when you arrive)
    • Tweezers
    • Bandaids
    • Nail clippers or scissors and emery board
    • Razor, rather than a disposable. Saves space and the planet.
    • One bottle of your favorite color nail polish that is no larger than 14.7 ml. (I need this to cover unsightly toenails. You may have no need for this.)
    • Nail polish remover pads
    • Small hair brush or comb
    • Hair ties for long hair
    • Makeup (or not): the minimum you can live with
  • An extra pair of eyeglasses, if you wear prescription lenses or use reading glasses
  • Sun hat that folds up

What Goes in the Daypack?

Place the carry-on in the overhead compartment and the daypack at your feet . In it you’ll want those things you value and those you need during the flight:

  • Passport, other ID, and tickets (unless you’re carrying them in an under-garment pouch)
  • Wallet (unless you’re carrying it in a hidden under-garment pouch)
  • Electronics (phone, computer, chargers, etc.)
  • Snacks
  • Reading material
  • Eyeglasses (reading or prescription, if required)
  • Sunglasses
  • Medications

Track Your Spending

You can download a good travel budget app for your mobile phone. It’ll help you track your budget with categories like accommodations, transport, food, incidentals, etc., to convert currencies, split costs, and much more. You can find some recommended in “The 9 best budgeting apps for travelers,” at https://matadornetwork.com/read/9-best-budgeting-apps-travelers/. Or, search Google for “best travel budget app” and you’ll find many, many reviews and suggestions.


Preparation for a trip is key. The more you’ve organized ahead of time, the freer you’ll be to enjoy yourself. Plan your itinerary, get your travel insurance (see, Travel Insurance for Seniors), prepare your packing list, and take off for a new adventure.

FYI: As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t increase your cost at all.

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