Packing for Alaska Cruise

Joe and I are light packers.  After years of traveling, we’ve long ditched hard shell and large, wheeled luggage.  We’ve learned that soft-shell packs are the best way to travel.

  1. You’ll always have your packs with you, and never risk losing them through airline mishandling.
  2. It’s lighter.
  3. It’s expandable, so you can shove more if needed – although you always want to pack as little as possible.
  4. You can throw it on your back, free up your hands, and run for that train.
  5. Cobble stone roads are never an issue.
  6. You can bring it to Venice, as opposed to your wheeled luggage.

When it comes to packing, less is more.  Pack the essentials.  Let clothing do double duty.  The last thing you want is to be bogged down by ‘things’ when you’re traveling.  We’re often met by surprise when porters or drivers see us, “That’s all you have?” or “Where are your luggage?”

Alaska cruise requires packing for temps ranging from 30-80 degrees (making layering important), rain gear, and dresses for formal nights on the ship.  It’s a little more than what we’re used to, but it’s doable.

Important things to know are to let clothing do double duty and to get clothing that is compact.  Compact gear tends to be a little pricier, but it’s worth the luggage space.

Sometimes it’s easier for women because we’re smaller and our clothes are smaller, lighter, and take up less space.


From top left: skirt, sleepwear, light sweater, down jacket, rain jacket

From middle left: gyms clothes for the 2 sea days, hiking pants that zip off to convert into shorts if needed, tights (to be worn under the hiking pants if it gets cold), 8 days of short sleeves, sandals for dinner on the ship.

From bottom left: 9 days of underwear and socks (I will usually pack an extra for these as you never know), gloves, hat, clutch for dinner, and hiking boots with wool socks

On the bottom: 4 dresses for dinner.

A few items are doing double duty: one of the white Ts will be paired up with the skirt for one of the dinners and will be worn again the next day.  The blue Ts may be worn as gym shirts if I choose to exercise additional days.  Since the gyms shorts are made of quick dry material, I can always wash them the night before use.

My favorite item (other than my SW sandals) is the down jacket.


Down jacket

Because it can be packed into this…


Compact down jacket

Roll up all the shirts and dresses – placing the easily wrinkled dresses on the outside before rolling everything up.

Throw in the toiletries, and I’m ready to run for that ship…

This pack has served me well for the last 7 years traveling across 5 continents.
and of course the camera pack.

There are 2 other people I know who pack even lighter than we do – sister and BIL.  They travel with their regular sized back packs for a weeklong to 2-week vacation.  Now that’s what I call extreme packing.


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