1. Three pairs of shoes MAX!
Its as easy as this, one pair for chilling such as flip-flops, comfy pair for walking around such as converse or tennis shoes, and a cute pair for dinner.
This is always the item that takes up the most space, and for an average seven-day vacation, I know I have always packed as if I'll be gone for three weeks! Here's how to simplify it... Two dresses (dress shirts for guys), five shirts you know you'll wear, two pairs of shorts, one pair of pants, one jacket, and pajamas. Seriously it is all you need!
Luckily undergarments are not big and bulky because if you shower everyday than you will definitely need 7-9 pairs of undies, two bras,1-2 swimsuits, and 5 pairs of socks (just because you won't likely be wearing shoes that need socks everyday).
This is one category is easy to downsize simply because we are talking about vacation! Don't bring your iPad, laptop, PS4, Xbox, or anything bigger than the size of your phone. In all reality, you just need your phone and your phone charger.
If you're planning on going somewhere warm, make-up can be a not very necessary thing because within two hours its probably half off. So bring a little make-up bag with your face necessities. It is especially helpful if you pack your face wash, and moisturizer with your make-up!
Now there is a reason they make travel size things of just about everything, try to limit to bringing only two full-sized products. Any medicines or special creams are an exception, but you should have no more than six items for a week average vacation.
I am definitely all for having food ALL THE TIME! So it is acceptable to bring an extra tote bag for snacks and drinks. The only thing to remember with this is to not pack things you or other people won't eat, because it'll go to waste.
8. Your favorite comfort item
Whether you'd like to admit it or not, no matter what age you are... We all have a favorite item (i.e. blanket, pillow, sweater) that we like to have around for comfort. For example, I have this one blanket I have taken on every vacation since I was 6 years old, and it's like the vacation wouldn't be complete without it.
9. Vacation-themed necessities
Not everyone goes to the beach, or the mountains, or on a cruise, so whatever the theme is or the basic idea of your vacation, try to base your essentials on whatever that is. For example, if you're going to Europe and there might be hiking or beach days, you'll have to accommodate for both, where if you were just going to the beach you would need sunscreen, towel, sunglasses, and cash for your pina colada and you're golden!
10. Extra room
I know you're probably thinking, what? How does one "pack" extra room? And that is exactly it! You don't! The soul purpose of having extra room is so you have literal extra room for your souvenirs or items you find/purchase while on vacation. It is truly surprising how much room a few T-shirts or bracelets can take up.
11. The "bad situation" bag
I have met very few people that pack what I refer to as a "bad situation" bag. So say you or someone gets seriously sick or injured and while on vacation you usually don't have easy access to medical help. So find a small bag and pack it with some essentials for a bad situation. This can include: Water, pain medication, allergy medication, bandages, flashlight, and even look up information about nearby hospitals or emergency center near where you'll be staying to save some time.
Packing can be one of the most irritating things about going on vacation, it used to take me weeks in advance to get all things together, but after following this simple 11 step list, I'm ready to go within no time, I even have time to try on my outfits while packing!