People overpack. If you’ve ever watched one of the Real Housewives programs on BRAVO and seen the luggage these folks bring for a weekend, you know what I mean. Many people bring much more than they need for a relaxing vacation at sea. They need to lug these bags to the airport, get them checked and pull them off the baggage carousel. You don’t need to pack as much as you think.
- Every piece of casual clothing you own. You will need some, but not everything. Think of a basic color grouping like blue/grey or brown/green. Stick to one palette. You’ve likely seen enough Rick Steve’s travel shows to know he suggests combinations that can be mixed and matched. Dressed up if necessary. If you have some showstopper garments that can only be worn together, leave those home.
- Raingear. Raincoats are heavy. Most of your time will be spent aboard the ship. It’s basically an indoor environment. If the weather turns bad, you can buy a windbreaker in the ship’s gift shop. It will be a great souvenir. You don’t need an umbrella either.
- Beer, liquor and wine. I’ve seen people coming down the corridor was cases on their shoulders! The ship won’t let you do it. They will likely take it, store3 it and return it afterwards. Once aboard, learn the rules. They will likely allow you to bring a bottle or two of wine aboard from the port you just visited.
- Expensive jewelry. This is an accident waiting to happen! You’ve seen those jewel heist movies. Yes, your stateroom has a safe, but are you diligent enough to keep it locked? Costume jewelry or inexpensive pieces you bought on TV are fine.
- Too much formal wear. How many gala nights will you have? You don’t need to wear something different every night. No one will notice. If they do, how likely is it that you will see them again once the cruise is over? The mix and match route makes better sense.
- Don’t overdo the underwear. For men, this can take up lots of space! When we travel, I bring older sets I can dispose of afterwards. I also buy new sets, expecting to wash them onboard, either in the free self-service laundry machines or through the ship’s laundry service.
- Too many books. Your ship might have a library. If not, you can buy books and magazines in port. You can trade with fellow passengers. We used to bring travel guides. Now I just copy the sections I might need and leave the book at home. You can get similar information on your phone.
- Too many shoes. You won’t need as many as you think! I bring a dress pair for evenings, a casual pair for during the day and rubber soled shoes for the gym or walking around the deck on wet days.
- Too many pairs of slacks. You might need one pair of chinos and dress jeans. If you are heading to warmer parts, you will be in shorts most of the day. Bring them. Don’t overdo it on belts either.
- Ties, the fewer the better. Yes, you might dress for dinner. Bring two ties. It gives you variety, but more important, you have a spare when you spill something on the first tie.
After a few trips, I learned from my wife how to optimize packing. I still head home with shirts I haven’t worn!