How to Pack a Suitcase for a Month's Stay
A lot can happen in 30 days. It's enough time to visit a dozen countries or learn the ins and outs of one new city, to cross a continent or hunker down in a hotel room to write an entire novel. A month is also plenty of time to tire of living out of a suitcase, so packing that suitcase is definitely tricky. If it's not something you'll be happy to wear four or five times over the month, leave it at home.
A One-Month Clothing List
The first rule of packing for a one-month trip? Reject any pieces that will show stains, sweat and wrinkles after the first wear. Anything that's white, made of linen or that has to lie flat to dry is probably too delicate for this trip. You need pieces that can be worn multiple times, don't have fussy washing instructions and won't turn into a mass of wrinkles in the suitcase. Favor prints, which camouflage a multitude of sins. Synthetics, thin wool and cotton/synthetic blends are all good travel fabrics.
Lay all clothing out on a bed before finalizing any choices to make sure that the tops and bottoms you choose allow plenty of mixing and matching and to make sure you don't forget essentials. For a one-month trip, pack a one-week supply of undergarments and socks. Choose five or six pairs of shorts and/or pants, depending on the climate of your destination. (Even for hot places, it's wise to pack at least one pair of pants.) Pick out six or seven tops, including at least one long-sleeved shirt that can be worn with the sleeves rolled up. For a sightseeing trip, this can mean three T-shirts, two neutral polo shirts or blouses and one or two patterned button-downs. Add at least one sweatshirt or sweater.
Pack two pairs of pajamas and consider whether the trip will involve any dressy dinners, shows or religious/holiday services. If so, a man might add a pair of dress pants and a sports coat to wear over a collared shirt. A woman may want to add a plain black skirt to wear with a blouse, or throw in a black knit dress.
Don't forget outerwear. A water-resistant jacket with a hood is a suitable all-purpose choice for trips to both hot and cool places. If it's winter in your destination and the weather calls for it, choose a downy parka instead. It should be warm enough to protect you against snow and wind but light enough that it can be condensed into a tight bundle. For winter trips, pack a knit cap and thin wool gloves.
Finally, choose necessary shoes – usually two or three pairs. Make one a pair of sturdy, broken-in walking shoes. For the second pair, choose casual slip-on sneakers, ankle boots, ballet flats or loafers. Beach vacations or hostel stays call for sandals that can get wet. If you're packing a dressy outfit, make sure to have a pair of shoes to match.
Extras to Pack
It may be easy to wash clothes during your trip. Hostels often have self-service washing machines, and many nicer hotels offer laundry services for a fee. Still, having the ability to wash your own things is handy. Bring individual packets of laundry detergent and a travel laundry kit, which should include a portable clothesline and mesh bag for washing delicates. Plug the sink or tub/shower drain, hand-wash dirty items and hang them to dry. Pack a stain stick to banish spots before they set in permanently.
Style-conscious travelers may get sick of wearing the same duds over and over, so pack a few colorful scarves or jewelry to change up your look occasionally.
Packing Strategy for a Month
Once you've made your choices, it's time to fill the suitcase. Packing cubes are great for staying organized on long trips. Cram bulky pieces into them to keep them compressed, and store shoes in them. As you travel, use the cubes to keep dirty and clean clothes separate. How to pack the cubes depends on your travel style. Will you be moving from one hotel room to another? Pack individual outfits, underwear and all, into separate cubes so you need to pull only a few out of your suitcase at each stop. If you plan to fully unpack in each hotel, it's probably not necessary to fill the cubes using any thoughtful organization.
For travelers who don't want to use packing cubes, start by wrapping shoes in plastic bags to protect the rest of your belongings from contamination. Tuck shoes into the bottom corners of the suitcase, surrounding them with socks and undergarments, and layer folded clothing on top of them. (The rolling versus folding debate is highly personal, but neither method really saves much more space than the other.) Pack travel-sized containers of toiletries in a zippered pouch and nestle it into the center of the suitcase for cushioning. Make sure the suitcase zips easily, allowing room for souvenirs.