We have a friend who thinks it's a real hoot that we set out everything we're going to pack for a trip on our dining room table before we put it in a suitcase. Well, we don't use our table that often for dinner so why not?
Setting out the clothes and other necessities on the table for a trip allows us to see if we're over packing. Rarely does anyone under pack. We can assess the piles of clothes and gear and then reevaluate the necessity of all of them. Do I really need ten shirts for five days of travel? And what about all those shoes?
It is a much better idea we've found to work this way rather than to just fill a suitcase as we gather things for our trip. If you start out with one of the larger suitcases, you are bound to fill it up and bring more than you need. We aim to fill the smallest that will accommodate the absolute necessities. We've often had stateroom stewards do a double take when they deliver just two suitcases for a cruise and we say that's all we have.
While we haven't tried it, we met a couple once who were down to one suitcase each for a cruise. When we asked how they did it, they replied that there was a safety pin on each item that they packed. If they returned home with something that still had a safety pin on it, they would leave it home the next trip.
Packing for several different climates? Layers is the word to keep in mind. Light weight clothes that are layered can offer a lot of protection. Add gloves, a hat, and a scarf and you can survive most colder areas. Afraid of a rainy day? A small travel umbrella and a rain poncho from a dollar store will help you through it.
The laundry is the traveler's friend. I know you're on vacation but part of the travel experience can be enriched by the people you meet in the local laundry. Many ships have self-serve laundries. It doesn't take long to get a load of laundry done and certainly cuts down on how much packing you do if you plan to use it.
Neighborhood laundries in other cities and countries can be quite interesting as well. We got to chat with a friendly Parisian one day as she showed us how to operate the machines. Another time we had a friendly exchange with a student in Heidelberg and I got to practice some of my high school German. As my grandson would say, it's all part of the experience. And when you are traveling through Europe and using the trains, it helps to have a smaller suitcase and less to lug.