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How to Not Overpack for a Cruise: 12 Tips for Proper Packing

Whether it’s your first time taking a cruise or you just feel uncertain about the new trip you’re about to embark upon, you may be worried about being the stereotypical tourist who severely overpacked. It’s a reasonable fear for anyone to have, especially those who don’t travel on cruise ships often. There are excursions to plan for, fine dining opportunities which may call for nice clothes, and a hundred other ways in which you can freak out and pack a crazy amount of clothes. Let us help you navigate the packing process so that you won’t be fumbling over six pieces of luggage as you board your cruise. These are our tips on how to not overpack for a cruise.

Research the Weather of the Area Where You’re Traveling

One of the smartest things you can do as you prepare for a trip is to check the weather forecast. Family camping weekend? Headed to the beach? Use the weather app on your phone so you won’t be helpless in a massive storm or sweating to death because all you packed were jeans and thermals. As for packing for a cruise, knowing what the weather will be like allows you to remove articles of clothing unnecessary to your journey. If you see that your winter cruise will be warmer than usual, you can probably take fewer jackets and sweats. Winter clothing can be a real space-killer in your suitcase.

Think About What You’d Like to Do

Here’s the other important part of planning for a cruise. Depending on which cruise line you are using, you will most likely be able to browse the activities and excursions available for your trip beforehand. This means you’ll be able to have a rough idea of what you want to do on the cruise as you pack for it. Use that to your advantage by stocking up on the necessary items and cutting the dead weight.

Stick with a Basic Style - How to Not Overpack for a Cruise

Moving on to some fashion advice, a great way to trim down your wardrobe is by settling on a specific style for a trip. Unless your cruise has a specific dress code, guys can keep it casual with a t-shirt and shorts during the day and opt to wear some nice jeans and a collared shirt at night. Whatever style you prefer on a cruise, plan your outfits around that. This way, you won’t pack a lot of oddball clothing items you’ll never end up wearing.

Don’t Be Scared to Stretch Out an Outfit’s Wear

On your vacation, you’ll probably do a few things you wouldn’t normally do at home. Whether it’s your eating and drinking habits or the activities you engage in both on and off the ship, vacation life is just different from the usual nine-to-five. Give yourself the freedom to wear at least part of your wardrobe more than once during the cruise. It could just be a T-shirt you wear multiple times and perhaps in different ways. Chances are you’re probably changing clothes and dipping into the pool enough that everything is relatively clean after the first wear. Just don’t take this advice too far or you’ll be the talk of the ship, and NOT in a good way.

Find Ways to Make Single Piece of Clothing Versatile

This point kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. One of the best ways to know how to not over pack for a cruise is to make your clothing versatile. For guys, this may mean pairing a T-shirt with a button down or making one pair of jeans work with two or more different outfits. You can actually find companies who make clothing designed to be worn multiple ways. Something like this will allow you to wear the same item more than once without anyone being the wiser.

Don’t Over-Plan for Emergencies

For all of our Boy Scout readers out there, being prepared is great, but you can justify packing just about anything when using this motto in the extreme. You don’t need to pack more than two outfits per day for every day of the trip. Even if you plan on doing a variety of activities, you should be able to conserve and reuse clothing at times. It’s a good idea to take an item or two just in case, say one extra change of clothes or a jacket for if you get cold. Don’t get caught overpacking just because you’re running through a group of unlikely scenarios in your head.

Pack No More Than Two Pairs of Shoes

Shoes can be your worst enemy when you’re in the middle of packing. After cramming your clothing, toiletries, and anything else you need into your suitcase, you finally realize the only shoes you have room to bring are the ones on your feet. Not only are these often the last thing you consider, shoes are bulky. Try to limit yourself to two pairs of shoes -- one for nice outings and one for fun.

Pack Digital Reading Materials

We love the feel of a physical book or magazine as much as the next person, but those 500-page epics and fun romance novels can take up a lot of your packing space. If you have an e-reader, consider bringing it for all of your poolside needs. Just make sure it’s waterproof before you clumsily leave it where it can get wet.

Leave the Towels at Home

Some people swear by bringing their own beach towels on a cruise, but it’s a luxury you may want to forego if you’re desperate for space in your luggage. You can always check one out on the ship or at the site of your excursion. The loss of space may be a price worth paying in your book, but for people wanting to know how to not overpack for a cruise, every cubic inch matters.

Limit Your Luggage - How to Not Overpack for a Cruise

Think of your packing like a financial budget. If you set out with the goal of only spending X number of dollars, it’s harder to blaze past that. With your luggage, go in with the mindset of “I’m going to fit everything into this one suitcase and a backpack.” This will help you find the wherewithal to make the necessary tough decisions without feeling regret. Hopefully this will leave you enough room so that you can add a comfort item or extra swimsuit at the end after you’ve saved all of that space.

Travel Size Toiletries

If you’re flying, this may already be in your plans, but using toiletries that are travel size can allow you to create room in your shaving bag (or whatever you keep your bathroom items in). Thanks to the added plastic usage, this one isn’t a winner with the environmentally conscious crowd. If you’re sitting at home searching “how to not overpack for a cruise,” though, it may be time to think ruthlessly.

Make an Inventory of What You’re Packing

Also a nice way to not forget anything, making an inventory of what you hope to pack lets you visualize everything headed inside your bag. This keeps you from getting carried away with all of those swimsuits you’ve been unable to decide between. Overpacking is often caused by people who aren’t practically approaching the packing process, so get organized and you’ll be one step closer to doing it right.

We hope this has been a helpful guide to learn how to not overpack for a cruise. A trip like this should be a lot of fun, so we want you to make the serious decisions now. That way you’ll be free to relax once you’ve arrived onboard.

At Premier Cruises, we’re connecting families and Christian groups with the vacations of a lifetime. From Alaska to the Caribbean and beyond, our adventures take you to the best destinations and with the most exciting entertainers in tow. Find out how you can join us for our latest expedition by clicking on the link below.


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