Packing for a 7 Night Luxury Cruise/12 Day Vacation

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I’m packing to leave today on a 12 day vacation (which includes a 7 night cruise on Seabourn out of Istanbul). Cruise vacations, especially those on the small luxury ships, always throw my packing off as dinner tends to be a dressier affair and it’s hard to repeat outfits too often when you are seeing the same people 24/7!

I usually start off a week or two before a longer trip by outlining my days to figure out what kinds of outfits I need for each day (including changes of clothes for various activities), what the anticipated weather might be, if there are any special regional considerations (a need to cover my arms or legs, for example), what anticipated weather looks like, where I might see the same people through the trip, and whether there is a reasonable break to do laundry mid-trip.

Once I’ve outlined the basic requirements, I then work through a list of possible items from my closet to take.  If I’m at home, I will pull them all out and start to narrow the items down, but often I am working on the plane from memory so I write out a list like this one. I then work through my list, checking off outfits by day, to be sure that my list is not too long or incomplete based on my needs.

My potential clothing items for a 12 day trip including a week-long Black Sea luxury cruise.

My potential clothing items for a 12 day trip including a week-long Black Sea luxury cruise.

Because I use a “capsule wardrobe” strategy (maintaining basics in core neutral colors such as black, grey, and navy and mixing in two to three colors seasonally as accents), I’ve decided to concentrate my basics for this trip around black and charcoal grey pieces. I’ll toss in color via cardigans, tops, and accessories. This will allow me to mix and match pieces to create new outfits while re-wearing some items. I also can pack neutral shoes that will go with many outfits. For this trip, my neutrals are coral and turquoise, both on-trend colors that mix well with black and charcoal.

I also employ a “wear it 2-3 times” approach – if I can’t reasonably wear an item at least two different ways (with other pieces), I reconsider whether it belongs in my suitcase.

On this particular trip, I plan to shop for dishware in Istanbul so I know from the start that I will not be able to make it in just my usual Tumi carry-on roller bag as I need to have space in a second hard-side bag to check dishes on the return trip.  At the same time, I’m nervous about a lost bag not making it to the cruise ship in time for departure so I’m going to hedge my bets with one carry-on and one checked bag.

I’ve borrowed back my older Tumi roller (on long-term loan to my parents) to use as a checked bag (and I’m filling half of the space with a roll of bubble wrap to secure my purchases) and I’m tossing a Longchamp expandable tote in as a backup plan in case my shopping overtakes me.

My day-to-day roller bag will go with me on the plane as a carry-on along with my usual computer tote (which will hold my laptop, iPad, purse, chargers, and other onboard necessities). Most clothing will all fit in the carry-on bag where I have carefully rolled it and placed it in zippered packing cubes. I have redistributed the weight in the bags though by relegating half of my shoes and one cube of “cruise only” clothing to the checked bag for weight reasons. I did, however, take care to be sure that I had complete outfits with appropriate shoes in the first bag should I have a baggage delivery delay.

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last eighteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Although she averages 200 days a year on the road, she loves to return to “the homestead” in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and cocktail mixology.

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