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Packing light for a long trip requires some thought, whether you’re going to Europe or just to grandma’s house. I’ve offered a few thoughts over the past couple of months on what you may want to take with you, which you can find here. Everyone has their own set of requirements, and what you bring will be greatly affected by the time of year and climate you are going to visit. After 20 years of traveling for long periods of time, I have developed a basic checklist to get me started, and I add or subtract depending on the situation.

Remember to check with your airline about the maximum carry-on weight and size allowed. Every airline has its own standards. As far as what you can bring, the weight may be less than even that. Go by what your body can lift, pull and generally wrangle over steps, cobblestones and ramps. I suggest abut 16 pounds. Pack your bag at least two weeks ahead of time and walk with it for at least 15 minutes, take it home and remove at least a couple of items.

I have mentioned a few of my favorite things that I pack, and while I don’t think my choices work for absolutely everyone, many of them will work for most. I’ve set up an Amazon page with links to the exact things that I own and use, so if you want exactly what I’m talking about or that you’ve seen in my videos, you’ll find them there. I have listed only things that I own and use regularly in my travels. I’m just now unpacking my stuff and storing it for the season, so I’ll add things as I go through it all.

Sarah’s Gear Suggestions on Amazon

Here, as a companion to my Rick Steves lecture Packing Light and Right, I give you a place to begin, a basic checklist. Print this page and highlight items as you add them. Cross off the items you don’t use and add your personal picks to the bottom of the list. Whatever list you come up with, keep it. If you travel often, keeping records of what worked and what didn’t will make future trips easier to prepare for. Good luck and remember that nobody has ever said “I wish I’d have brought more!” Sarah’s Basic Packing Checklist  

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  • peggy says:

    Will you share what brand of color-stay all day lipstick you use? It’s a lifelong pursuit for me, finding the best lipstick. Thanks.

    • says:

      Hi Peggy, it’s Revlon, check the page on my site called “Packing Checklist” and you’ll find a link under the toiletries section to an Amazon store I’ve set up. The exact type and color that I use is there and is about half the price vs Target. I’ve used it for more than 10 years, I put it on once a day and that’s it. Love!

  • Fantastic article! I pack my things earlier , too. usually one week before my trip. This way I can remove a lot of stuff if I decided differently. Thank you for sharing your post! Best regards!

  • Anne says:

    I tried to read your "Sarah’s Basic Packing Checklist" and it is no longer there.
    Please email your list to me via email. Thank you!

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