How I Pack For My Summer Trips

While I like taking vacations and going on weekend trips, I really don’t like packing. It’s kinda tedious and a little stressful because I don’t want to forget something.

I also don’t want to pack so much that I overpack and end up with overweight bags or not enough room to bring home some really good souvenirs.

Over the last few years of summer vacations, my goal has been to take only what I need so I’m packing as lightly as possible and only packing things that I can use over and over. The one exception I’ve had for this goal is when I’m traveling overseas I tend to overpack a little bit because there are some things that aren’t easy to get or can be expensive in other countries.

an extensive summer vacation packing list.
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To help with my goal I devised this list of must-haves that I always pack with me on my summer vacations whether it's a road trip in the U.S. or an overseas cruise.


If it’s a shorter trip, just a night or two, I’ll leave a few things out of my regular skincare routine like a serum, my nighttime moisturizer, a facial scrub, and a facial mask. For longer trips, I take everything except for the facial scrub. You can see my full skin care regimen here.

I rarely take the full bottles of items unless I’m going to be gone for a long time (talking more than a week) or the bottle is almost empty and I’ll be able to use up the product on my trip and throw it away before coming home.

No matter how long the trip, I take a Dove body bar soap, deodorant, some nicely scented body spray, and a nice moisturizing but not heavy lotion typically all travel-sized except for the bar soap.


Depending on how long I’m traveling and where I’m going determines whether or not I pack some shampoo and deep conditioner. I do pack them if
  • I’m gone for more than a week
  • I’ll be spending a lot of time outside or working up a sweat
  • I’m going overseas no matter the length of time

When I take shampoo and conditioner I make sure to also use my hair dryer and heat protectant.

I always take my hair moisturizer and sealing serum or oil no matter where I’m traveling to and the length of time.

As with the skincare products I try to transfer my hair products to smaller travel-sized containers and/or purchase travel-sized products.

I’ll pack a flat iron or satin pillow rollers if I know I’ll want to curl my hair during the trip.

Some additional hair items I always pack are


Makeup is probably my least favorite thing to pack because I’ve had a few hard to clean up messes with packed makeup in the past.

What I pack tends to be the following
  • A matte primer
  • A foundation
  • A tinted moisturizer
  • A face powder
  • A brow pencil
  • Two eyeshadow palettes, typically Juvia’s Place the Chocolates and another one with a little more color
  • A mascara
  • Setting spray
  • A makeup sponge, kabuki brush, and a couple of eyeshadow brushes

For as many of these as possible, I try to use small and travel-sized containers so they take up less room.

Clothing and accessories

Lighter clothing: I pack a lot of light t-shirts and tanks because they take up less room and I can take extras that I change into if I sweat a lot during the day.

Fewer layers: I try not to pack things that need to be layered because that uses up extra room.

Minimized color palette: I also try to stick to a particular color palette versus packing a lot of different colors because it helps cut back on the number of bottoms, shoes, and jewelry I’ll need.

Comfortable shoes: I make sure all of the shoes I pack and even the pair that I wear when traveling to my destination are ones that I can comfortably walk and stand in for hours at a time. My favorite brand of shoes for traveling is Soul Naturalizer which you can find at Kohl's.

Few dressy outfits: I only pack the exact number of dressy outfits that I need. If more is needed or one gets dirty I can double up if needed. These are outfits that I only wear for a few hours and they can take up a lot of space. I also try to limit these to a dress or one piece so they take up less space in my bag.

Some additional things

I like to use packing cubes because they help me to pack more items into my suitcase and they make it easier to organize my clothes and accessories. I’ve also found that for shorter trips I can use the packing cubes for storing my dirty clothes. These are the packing cubes I use.

The suitcase set I have is nothing fancy. It’s a cloth set that came in three different sizes. It’s not sold anymore but here are some suitcase sets I would buy if I was in the market for some new ones.

When I go on trips I like to do a lot of walking which can be hot in the summer so I always take a metal water bottle with me to help keep my water cool throughout the day, a small backpack to use instead of a purse because it carries more, a sun visor or hat, a small umbrella in case it rains, and a battery-powered fan.

Last, but not least, I carry whatever medications and vitamins I’m taking at the moment. If I’m going out of the country I take a small first aid kit.

How do you pack for summer trips?