Finding a solid packing list for female travelers over 50 can be tough. When I search for packing inspiration for my travels, I find lists, but they are filled with clothes that are for a much younger crowd. Even though I am not up for short shorts and crop tops, I want to look stylish and put together. Plus I’d like to be comfortable and I want my feet to feel good after a long day of sightseeing.
If a trip is on your horizon, you’ll need a solid packing list to help make sure you have everything you need while you’re away. In this post I’ll share my top tips with you to make sure you’re set up for success.
Remember, an ultimate packing list isn’t just clothes, it’s all of the important things including clothes that you may not think of before you need them.
Feeling overwhelmed? Click the links below for resources that will help you pack for every trip:
- The ultimate capsule wardrobe packing guide
- The best clothes for women over 50 to create the ultimate travel capsule
- Finally, want my Ultimate Packing List for Female Travelers over 50? Subscribe below for my Free and Editable Packing List for Women!
Start With a Good Suitcase
You’ll often hear me recommend this tip in our other blog posts at She Packs Lite, but it’s worth saying again. A high-quality suitcase is worth the investment. It’s one of the best ways to ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success, whether it’s for long trips or short trips. If this is your first time traveling in a long time, you might still be scraping by with an old suitcase. Sure, it gets the job done, but it might not be doing as much as it could for you.
I recommend spending the extra money on a durable, well-made suitcase. I always recommend a carry-on size because I prefer to never check my bag. In the event that you do have to check, you’ll want a bag that can handle it. It may be tossed around by baggage handlers and encounter all different kinds of conditions along your way. And of course, I’m all about packing light, so you should choose one that’s not too big and bulky. Having a suitcase that’s too big is a surefire way to packing more than you need.
My current luggage obsession:
(It’s number one on my birthday list this year!)
Carry a Quality Carry-On / Personal Item
It doesn’t matter if this is going to be your only bag while traveling or if it’s just your one additional item that you get on flights. Your carry-on bag / personal item should be high-quality too. For short trips, some people challenge themselves to only bring personal item. With our packing tips, it’s totally doable. However, for long-term trips, you may need some extra room to make sure you have everything you need.
A carry-on bag, first and foremost, should be comfortable to carry. That may seem obvious from the name, but a lot of women choose their carry-on’s based on looks and not functionality. That over-the-shoulder bag might be stylish and chic. But, if it’s loaded up, after a while your shoulder is going to feel like it’s on fire. A two-strap bag or backpack can take the pressure off that shoulder that’s been singled out. In the end, it will be much more comfortable to carry your bag around the city or bringing your bags from the airport to your hotel.
Having a carry-on bag that has multiple pockets is helpful as well. On travel days you’ll need access to your passport and other travel documents. A few small zip pockets in the front can really help you stay organized. This will allow you to have easy access to all of your important documents and credit cards. And it will reduce the chance of you losing them by simply carrying them in your hand the whole time. A lost passport can really put a damper on a trip, so keep yourself organized with the help of your bags.
Use a Packing List
Packing without a list is another good way to guarantee that you pack too much. At first, you’re just packing essentials. The next thing you know, you’re throwing in four extra swimsuits and pairs of pants “just in case”. One good thing to keep in mind is asking yourself if you’ll actually wear something that you pack. If you don’t reach for it at home, it shouldn’t make it into your travel bag. Those pair of high heels may be cute, but if you don’t want to wear them on a date night at home, you won’t want to wear them on the cobblestone streets of a foreign city.
You can be strategic about your outfits too. You also don’t need an entirely different outfit for every day of the week. This not only takes up way too much room in your suitcase, but it also leaves you with unworn clothes that could free up precious space. Following my 5-4-3-2-1 packing method to bring mix and match outfits and therefore pack less.
Need a packing list? You can Get my Ultimate Packing List for Female Travelers Over 50 below:
Pack a Travel Capsule Wardrobe
I mentioned that a 5-4-3-2-1 packing method will help you pack light and only include the basics. This method is a type of travel capsule wardrobe. You can read more about making a travel capsule wardrobe here. This method of packing allows you a certain number of clothing items per category (i.e. five shirts, four bottoms, three dresses, three pairs of shoes, etc…).
It’s especially important when you’re packing your travel capsule that you stick to a single color scheme or palette. That way you have the option to mix and match items and wear each piece more than one time. All of your different pieces will work together instead of one shirt only matching with one specific pair of pants. Using a travel capsule doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice style. You wear each piece more than once, but your accessories like jewelry and scarves give your outfits a little something extra. These items are also small, so you won’t have to worry about taking up too much space with them.
Don’t Forget to Pack the Basics
Many travel websites will tell you that you should start with a base layer like tank tops or sports bras. This is a good tip for some trips, especially ones in cold weather. In the winter months, a base layer of Merino wool can be worn with multiple outfits and it will be functional as well. The 5-4-3-2-1 method will help you start out with a good foundation of items that you should definitely have for your wardrobe. More specifically wardrobe outfits: tops, bottoms, and shoes, etc. Packing specific amount for each of these clothing items will get you off to a great start if you’re packing light for the first time.
In addition to your wardrobe pieces and your larger clothing items, the right number of pairs of underwear and socks should also make it on your packing list. Since these items are a lot smaller, it’s okay to pack a clean pair for each day if you’re not planning on doing laundry over the course of your trip. When flying, we’ll also throw in an extra pair of underwear and socks in our carry-on bag in the (hopefully) unlikely event that your checked bag is lost. Pants and shirts can be re-worn if you have to make a detour in your travels. You’ll be much more comfortable if you have a clean pair of underwear to change into if your travel plans change suddenly.
Consider Your Clothing Preference As An Over 50 Woman
I have joked for years that I am having “my own personal climate crisis”. That means that on any given day, regardless of if I am in a warm climate or cold, my body temperature may tell me the opposite of what is actually happening. Travel clothes that layer well are key here. I always bring a packable down jacket, you just never know what the evenings will be like or if my body decides its freezing out.
Know What Activities You’re Going To Do
If you want to go into any Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia, you’ll have to be pretty covered up as a woman. These ornate temples are worth a visit, so your clothing shouldn’t stop you from going inside and appreciating them. It’s going to be hot, so make sure you have lightweight clothes that cover your arms and legs. This also goes for Catholic churches in different parts of the world. Even if you’re not religious, the architecture of these buildings in Europe and South America is beautiful. They are definitely worth stopping by and you will need to respect the dress code.
Walking is a popular way to see many different cities because you can experience them just like a local. If you do plan on doing a lot of walking on your trip, make sure that the shoes you pack can handle it. There’s not much you can do about blisters once they happen. And, they can make your day miserable so it’s best if you just avoid them altogether if you can. It’s a good idea to make a cute and comfortable pair of sneakers one of the pairs of shoes that you pack.
Research the Weather and Climate in Your Destination
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes we assume what the weather will be based on what we already know about a destination. yes, it’s probably a safe bet to pack mostly swimsuits and shorts for a vacation in the Bahamas. Many other destinations have distinct seasons, and you’ll want to pack accordingly based on when you’re going to be traveling. Spring and fall can be especially unpredictable seasons in many different countries. You don’t want to get caught in some bad weather and not have any appropriate clothes. Frankly it is always good to bring a lightweight rain jacket in the event that there is unexpected showers.
Even in warm climates or places that you’re expecting to have good weather, I still recommend bringing one jacket. Small lightweight jackets usually fit pretty well in your suitcase if you roll them up, so you don’t have to worry about taking up too much space. If you don’t need it, that’s great, but it’s always your best option to be prepared.
Make Your Outerwear Match With Every Outfit
In colder weather, of course, jackets and coats can be much bulkier than a light summer sweater. This is why it’s even more important for your outwear to work with every outfit. Choose a jacket or coat that is a neutral color. That way it is sure to match every outfit combination you come up with while traveling.
If you find that you’re struggling to fit a bulkier jacket in your suitcase, one great packing tip I frequently recommend is to wear your coat while traveling. This will free up a lot of space in your suitcase and leave room for other things that you want to pack. In warmer climates or summer months, you probably won’t have the packing problem because your jacket will be much lighter. You should still make sure that it’s something that you can mix and match with different outfits over the course of your trip.
It’s always nice to have a stylish and packable rain jacket. You can find my favorites here.
Bring Multipurpose Shoes
In our travel capsule packing method you need to be strategic about your shoes! As women, the temptation to overpack shoes can be strong. I firmly believe that for every trip you take, whether it’s long or short, that you only need three pairs of shoes. I limit my shoes because they can be some of the bulkiest things that you pack. Unlike other clothing items, I can’t roll shoes or compress them to make them smaller, so it’s important to pack fewer pairs to make sure that you’re packing light for your trips.
I mentioned earlier that a good, comfortable pair of sneakers should be at least one pair of shoes that make it on your packing list. In order to make sneakers match with more outfits, I recommend bringing a pair of cute street sneakers. You’ll often see Europeans wearing these kinds of shoes. They’re not athletic or running sneakers, so they can be dressed up if you choose, but they’re also comfortable so you won’t have a problem wearing them around all day.
The other two pairs of shoes are up to you. If you’re traveling in the summer months, a comfortable pair of stylish sandals can be a good option because they can be dressed up for a nicer dinner or dressed down for a day at the beach. If you’re traveling in the winter, you might decide that a pair of leather boots are a good way to keep your outfits exciting. What you want to avoid when choosing shoes to bring are shoes that you’ll only wear once during your trip, or even for a few hours. Those new heels are cute, but if you can only wear them to dinner before your feet start hurting, they’re not a good choice to include in your three pairs that bring on your trip.
Stick with Travel-size Toiletries
Toiletries are something that you should always have on your packing list when you’re getting ready for a trip. When packing light, you’re better off packing travel-size toiletries instead of full-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner. These not only take up a lot of space but you’ll be forced to check your bag as well. If you want the freedom that comes with traveling carry-on, you’ll need travel-size toiletries to get through airport security. Another alternative to smaller bottles of shampoo and conditioner is solid toiletries. This eliminates the need for TSA-restricted liquids at all. And as a bonus, they won’t explode all over your belongings in your bag.
If you’re planning on a longer trip, another tip I recommend is simply purchasing these larger items at a drugstore when you get to your final destination. You can find everything you need at local stores, and you can leave these larger bottles behind as well.
Think about laundry ahead of time
A travel capsule of mix and match outfits means you’ll wear the same item of clothing multiple times. If you happen to be traveling to an especially hot location or you just spill something on your shirt, you’ll want the option to clean it. When planning your trip, consider laundry ahead of time when you’re planning a trip. I don’t often use hotel laundry as it can be very pricey, but Yelp makes it easy to find laundry nearby. On a recent trip to Portugal, we used a service that came to the hotel to pick up the clothing and dropped it off when done!
If you’re staying in an Airbnb while you’re away, you may have access to a washer and dryer in the unit you’re staying in, or at least very close. Many vacation rentals in the United States also have washers and dryers because they’re often people’s second homes. Throw a few laudry detergent pods in your travel-size liquids bag. Or, plan on purchasing some laundry detergent when you get to your final destinations. In a well-equipped vacation rental, they may even offer you laundry detergent, which is a nice perk.
Choose Your Daytime Bag Carefully
A bag that you carry with you during the day while you’re traveling is not the same thing as a carry-on bag that you bring on the plane. You probably don’t want to carry around a heavy backpack all day, and you probably shouldn’t anyway because it can make you stand out as someone who can get pickpocketed easily. A day pack is usually much smaller than a carry-on bag, and it should sit close to your body so you can keep a close eye on your belongings at all times.
Solo traveler? If this is your first solo trip, you might be nervous about pickpockets in a foreign country, but there’s no reason to be as long as you keep your wits about you while you’re walking around. Fanny packs can be good day packs, but I recommend wearing them as a cross-body bag instead of around your waist so they can’t be removed easily by thieves. Smaller purses also work well for this purpose, and if you can, you should wear your bag under your jacket or coat so it’s not easily accessible to others.
Pack Those Essential Travel Items
Ather essential item that you should consider packing, for international trips especially, is a power adapter. Most foreign outlets won’t accommodate your phone or laptop chargers. Being in a strange place is never a good time to have a dead cell phone battery. You can usually find multi-country power adapters online. That way you don’t have to buy a different one for every continent that you travel to. Other good things to have are laundry bags and shoe bags to keep your clothes clean while you’re traveling from place to place.
I suggest downloading any travel apps that you think you’ll use prior to leaving. International cellphone service can be slow. And, it’s good to not have to worry about using up your roaming data on an app download. You can see which apps I recommend using here.
FAQ: Packing List For Female Travelers Over 50
Still have some lingering questions about what you should pack for your next trip as a traveler over 50? I have some more tips to help you make sure you have everything you need.
What Should a Woman Pack For a Trip?
Unlike our male counterparts, most women can’t just throw some random clothes into a suitcase and make it work. Following our travel capsule method! It is the best thing you can do to make sure you have all of the necessary clothes you need and still be able to switch up your outfits. If you are looking for a packing list for female travelers over 50, this post above will give you all sorts of tips and tricks!
What Should You Not Forget When Traveling?
Some things that you should definitely not forget when you’re packing for a trip are a phone charger, a toothbrush, and sunscreen. There are others, of course, but these are some big ones that can seem obvious, but they’ll make a big difference if you forget them. You can get sunscreen at most drugstores, but if it’s a resort town or tropical destination, they can upcharge you quite a lot for sunscreen.
What is the Most Forgotten Item When Traveling?
Some of the most forgotten items are actually some of the things that can cause the biggest problems when they’re forgotten. If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, make sure you have any medications that you need, glasses or contacts, and any toiletries that you can’t get at a drugstore. It’s also a good idea to pack a swimsuit, even if you don’t plan on using it, and some form of jacket in case you run into bad weather. My packing list for female travelers over 50 includes everything you need for all your trips, domestic OR international!
What Should You Not Forget When Traveling Internationally?
When you’re traveling internationally, there are some additional items that should be on your packing list that you may not normally think of for a regular weekend away. If you’re getting out of the country, make sure you have your passport, visa if you need one, travel insurance, vaccinations, and credit cards that will work abroad. My packing list for female travelers over 50 includes everything you need for all your trips, domestic OR international!