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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 2: Define Your Trip Style

day 2: define trip style as well as budget and itinerary

Welcome to Day 2 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

Before you start planning your trip, picking destinations and deciding what to pack, you first have to define your trip style. It will factor into everything that you do, from your budget to your itinerary. What types of activities do you enjoy? How much money are you prepared to spend? All of these questions must first be answered.

What’s your budget?

budget versus luxury - what is your trip budget like?
Tight or nonexistent, or somewhere in between. You need to know your budget to define your trip style and make smart packing choices.

Are you staying in luxury hotels or saving on hostels? This will determine whether you need to bring your own towels, hairdryers and sheets. Do you prefer to keep it thrifty, enjoying as many free activities as possible or do you splurge for unique experiences? If you’ll be going scuba diving, you’ll need to pack your certification book and dive log. If you’re trying to save money, you might want to bring items to help you cook meals.

What are your interests?

Your interests will determine what type of itinerary to create and thereby what you need to pack. Which of these categories do you fall into?

culture vulture

Culture Vulture: You enjoy soaking up music and the arts of your destination, spending the afternoon wandering museums and looking for local bookstores. Pack books on the art and architecture of the places you’ll be visiting.

adventure junkie

Adventure Junkie: You thrive off of adrenaline, whether it be bungy jumping or rock climbing at your location of choice. Pack the phone number of your travel insurance provider!

list checker

List Checker: You want to see all the “top” sites in each city, from the Eiffel Tower to the Spanish Steps. Pack some comfortable walking shoes.

nature nut

Nature Nut: Your biggest goal for the day is to make it outside, and potentially somewhere far, far away. You love hiking and camping, so you better pack a compass and some hiking boots.

party girl

Party Girl: When others are going to bed, you’re waking up, getting to know a city by its nightlife, from the pub crawls to the wine tastings. Pack some aspirin.

beach bum

Beach Bum: You want nothing more than to soak up some rays while getting a golden tan. You live for ocean and the sound of crashing waves. Pack a bikini and some sunscreen.

foodie finder

Foodie Finder: You live for authentic cuisine of every culture and want to know where the locals eat. Pack an electronic translator so you’ll know what you’re eating, whether it be haggis or fried cockroaches.

What’s your itinerary?

lay out your itinerary
Map out your itinerary and be sure to note the seasons you’ll be traveling in so you can pack accordingly.

As a traveler, it is absolutely possible to pick the right itinerary and travel in nothing but summer and warm weather. As a packer, that generally means you can carry less with a need to bring only shorts and tank tops. If going to cold countries for a large portion of your trip, you will probably have to pack more of that bigger and heavier clothing. You must take weather and trip length into consideration when packing because, like we said in day 1, packing better is also about packing smarter and being better prepared.

Take Action: Write it Down
Write down what destinations you’ll be visiting with the average weather for the time you’ll be there. Make a list of big activities you plan to do on your trip (climb a mountain, scuba dive, ski, etc.). Note your overall trip style, such as whether or not you’ll be hosteling, couchsurfing or indulging in lavish hotels. People on a budget will also tend to do more walking, which means good walking shoes are a must. Plan a budget in advance.

Keep this page for future reference.

If you’re currently planning a trip, what is your trip style? What interests are you into? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Sarah says

    I’m definitely a list checker and a culture vulture…and I stay in hostels and private apartments whenever possible. My next trip involves staying with a friend, then at a hostel, then a couple cheap hotels, then at an apartment, then at a bit of a fancier hotel…in November, going as far north as Ireland and as far south as Naples.

    I know some of the family I’m meeting later in the trip want to eat at some nice places, so I’ve got to have comfortable shoes, easy layers, and something that can be dressed up at night, haha! It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but one I look forward to!

  2. Adveturous Andrea says

    The hard thing about packing for the trip I’m currently on is I don’t have any idea where I’m going next!

    It’s hard to pack for every temperature and activity out there! I think I’m just going to end up storing extra items at friend’s homes or, worst comes to worst, I’ll have to get rid of it.

  3. Tiera says

    I think I’m a cross between a list checker and a culture vulture. And I learned my lesson about comfortable walking shoes the hard way on my last trip. I was so concerned about being fashionable that I took boots I’d never before wore for more than a few hours and walked all over the city in them. I had to run to a drug store to buy gel inserts and bandaids on the first day!

  4. Jane says

    I’m always fond of traveling but I never been able to master the arts of packing! Shoot me already. Haha. On my recent trip, I packed for budget hotels and I ended up staying at 5 stars hotels!! Kick me!! Oh help me with this already. I’m a mix of everything listed here. I fall for each categories and it’s really hard for me to pack appropriately. Help me big time please.

  5. Nicole says

    I am definitely the beach bum and the foodie finder… I’m traveling on a budget, but still staying in urban areas. I love this website! It has answered so many travel questions, and has also inspired me with lots of ideas!


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