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America for two months - what to pack!

(9 Posts)
Mamagin Fri 05-Feb-16 23:38:43

My husband and I are cramming all our holidays for the next few years into one before the arrival of our first grandchild (yippee!) We are flying out to the States, hiring a car and driving around for two months, staying at a mixture of hotels, self catering and friend's houses, then sailing home on the QM2.
I am finding it a challenge to keep luggage to a minimum when I have to think of temperatures from sunshine in Florida to snow near the Great Lakes - and also having to pack formal clothing for the cruise back home.
So feels like a stealth boast - it's not - it's an out and out boast - but it is a one off for us, and our last holiday was cycling and camping in hedgerows!
Any advice?

altctrldel Sat 06-Feb-16 00:13:12

I went travelling last sunmer and did similar to you- hostels and then posh hotel for a week.

I took a hand luggage size suitcase for 3 months. I took:

4 tops- 2 sleeveless, 2 short sleeved and one i travelled in
4 dresses- 2x casual skater dress, strapless dress that also doubled as a swim cover up and a maxi dress.
Two pairs of shorts- one denim, one chino.
Jeans (travelled in these)
Waterproof coat (one of those that packs really small).
Bra (plus one i travelled in)
2x knickers (plus ones I wore when travelling)
Microfibre towel (quicker drying than normal towels- just dont expect cashmere quality)
Plastic hangable washing line.
Clutch bag
2x necklaces- a cheap statement piece and everyday necklace.
Just wore the same studs for earrings
Pair of wedges and pair of fit flops. Travelled in Converse.

If necessary I would of put clothes into my rucksack when travelling to make room for a coat and winter shoes if it had been necessary. Would of managed it just fine.

Key to packing is rolling not folding your clothes. Get a suitcase with a inside zip top so you have an extra compartment.

Camera (which i then regretted)
Charger for phone, kindle and charger (get a mutli plug)
Minimal makeup- i took a mascara, foundation and blush. Remember if your taking it on the plane with you it has to be a certain size- i did buy minatures before leaving and topped up when required.

Toiletries, first aid kit Ibrought along the way. And liquid washing soap. First stop I made was at a supermarket to buy s few bits. Instead of taking massive amounts of clothes I just washed 2x times a week at most and hung things up overnight to dry. Eventually you wont give a shit. Your away to have fun.

During our 3 months travelling we dressed up once when we went to Vegas. Rest of the time we were eating in burger joints etc and it wasnt necessary.

Check baggage allowance before you go- ie if you arent checking in bags are you allowed to take a small suitcase and rucksack on board with you?

Personally- if your planning on doing it, dont lug a massive camera around with you. I did and then found I managed just fine with my iPhone. Dont think youll need to take iPads/laptops with you- you wont have time to use them. Use your phone to send the odd email, facebook update etc. Kindle is a life saver if your going to have long trips between places.

Invest in a decent rucksack for when your walking about- not to mention youll be amazed how much you can fit in it! Go to a store and try some out- fill it up and walk around with it on for a bit and see how it feels.

For when we arrived in NY, i got my Mum to fed ex me some nicer clothes to wear in the hotel, for theatre etc. It cost me about £50 but it was stuff I wasnt lugging around for months before I was going to use it. I then brought a bigger suitcase from TJ Maxx very reasonably (would of been necessary anyway after hitting the outlet), paid to check it on the way home and got on the flight with my little one and my rucksack like on the way out.

snowypenguin Sat 06-Feb-16 09:05:16

Firstly I'd get all toiletries etc when I arrived so suitcase space is just clothes.

Get a good carry on bag too that can also be used as a day bag.

Depends when you go as Florida can be chilly at this time of year.

Id do a mix of layers. If buying new I'd try and get some cheaper bits that I could throw away and get some nicer bits when in the states. I'd get your formal wear when in the states too just before boarding the ship so you are not carrying a formal dress around for 2 months which you are not likely to wear. Same with smarter shoes.

Id be miserable living for 2 months out of a carry on bag - sorry alt! I'd pack fairly lightly but a good mix and match of jeans, t shirts, tops etc.

SquirrelledAway Sat 06-Feb-16 09:34:39

As you've got a hire car then I would take a small hold bag and a good back pack and if you're not sure about the range of temperatures then go with layers. Many US hotels have laundry facilities now so that makes life a lot easier too. You can always buy stuff out there if you get stuck. I always find I need less shoes than I think I do.

I'd also recommend a sat nav if you're doing a lot of driving - we got one for a US road trip last summer and it was great, well worth the money.

specialsubject Sat 06-Feb-16 19:27:25

nice one!

is it possible to send the cruise clutter ahead? You'll have no use for the formal wear during the rest of the trip, so perhaps it could be shipped. Ask the cruise company?

I've done long term in New Zealand which also has varied climates. Quick dry travel trousers, a pair of long shorts, various tops, 2 fleece tops. (not sweatshirts, quick dry fleece) One decent rain coat with a hood. Perhaps a skirt or two. Swimwear - one set, I used boardies and a rash vest plus a bikini top.

7 pairs of knickers, who wants to be washing them every night? Accommodation provides towels or buy when you get there. The travel towels get smelly and don't dry you properly.

everything in a similar colour range so can all go in one machine load. No white and no black. Don't take anything you love, it will be trashed by the end.

pack of medications - yes, America has chemists but you don't want to be trailing round looking for one when you need tablets. Sunscreen. Insect repellent. Replenish as you go.

shoes: decent trainers, proper walking shoes if you will be doing that, pair flip flops. Perhaps ONE dressier pair if you are bothering with smarter clothes before the cruise.

real pocket camera not farty phone thing. Doesn't have to be huge. You want the pictures to justify what you are going to see. The terrible battery life of the i-things means they will die on you when you need them. A pocket digital camera will only need charging every few days.

daypack as mentioned.

there may not be internet cafes now so you may have to take a tablet of some sort or your phone. I wonder if there are still book swaps?

NEVER jeans; too hot in the heat, too cold in the cold, useless in the rain.

as you'll have a car you needn't worry too much about weight, but think about the empty kilos contributed by wheels, handles etc.

Mamagin Sat 06-Feb-16 23:00:44

Thank you all so much - good tips there. I know it's a good idea to buy when we get there, but I really can't justify buying a second evening dress! I'm sure I could justify more shoes though....
I will update nearer the time with my packing list.

Manopaws Sun 07-Feb-16 09:08:26

a Toothbrush and that''s it! buy what you want on the way.

specialsubject Sun 07-Feb-16 10:45:32

smile - it could work!

in practice, who wants to waste valuable holiday time shopping for things you can get at home? Try to minimise that.

Mamagin Sun 07-Feb-16 11:13:20

Manopaws, if I had Money with a capital 'M', I would even buy the toothbrush at Heathrow. As it is, any spare money is going towards making sure that the grandchild will only be dressed as Tigger for the first year of its life.

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