I've been planning for this trip for about a year now. Probably seems a bit obsessive on packing, right? Well, if you plan ahead, you'll have few nasty surprises and time to get what you need.
This is what I've learned over the last 15 years about traveling. Pack as light as you possibly can. Leave the "just in case" stuff at home because 9 out of 10 times you won't need it. You will be happier with just one suitcase to lug around.
Take a tiny sewing kit because I've had clothes tear and I ALWAYS wind up with pressure blisters. (I have to puncture and drain mine carefully and try to make that bubble of skin stick back down, otherwise that loose skin tears completely off and I have a big open raw place. Pain, bleeding, infection, trouble walking.)
If you think about what you need calmly and far ahead of time, not only will you remember everything you need, but you will also figure out ways to get those items into the smallest possible packaging.
Do test runs with your travel sized toiletries and see if they will last as long as you need them to while you're at home. Then refill them. If your favorite shampoo doesn't come in a trial size bottle, buy something that does and mix it into your giant bottle of shampoo at home to avoid wasting it. Or wash your dog with it. Lol. Then refill the little bottle with the shampoo you like.
Make a packing list and stick to it. Use it when you come home to make sure you bring all your stuff back home.
This will be a new one for me: take old clothes and throw them away while you are traveling. Well, I upcycle t-shirts into rugs and shoes, but old undies... Yeah, not really reusable for anything once they get a bit tattered. You just have to throw that stuff away where nobody will feel the need to mail your "lost" clothes back home to you... At your cost.
Consider a change in your routine. I'm leaving the can of mousse behind and taking disposable packets of styling gel. (Already tested -- it'll work.) I'm going to use deodorant towelettes instead of a stick (they don't have what works for me in stick form and the container is always huuuuge anyway).
I don't think I'll be able to get away with not drying or curling my hair though. I try it every weekend and nothing I do keeps it from looking nasty. So I'm looking for a real travel curling iron and dryer. Half the size of my regular ones or smaller would be best. It would be nice to share with my roommate so we won't both have to carry it all. I guess I need to meet her and ask about it.
All reading material will be on Kindle on my iPhone. I'd love to take my iPad, but I'd worry about it being stolen, and keeping it charged on the go would be a hassle. Duracell backup batteries for my phone. I'm going to make a tear-off pad of my favorite paper puzzles, shrunk, so that when I finish a puzzle, I can throw it away and not have to deal with a big book of puzzles to lug around. And I can share puzzle pages too. :)
If you're reading this and sour-grape-ing about my "getting to go on this trip", consider that I'm paying over $3000 for the trip. I've been paying in installments for over a year. I would have LOVED for any friends or family to come with me, but I'm the ant and so many are grasshoppers -- and no, I'm not paying someone else's way. Grow up and pay your own way! Stop being a freeloader. I worked a LOT of overtime hours this year to pay for my trip. Nobody gave me anything. I even had to pay extra because I'm an adult.
Besides, it's a small consolation for me that I have a little available money for this, because I will never have children and it looks like I'm not going to be taking any romantic trips with a husband or even a boyfriend in this lifetime. I don't go on little weekend trips or vacations multiple times a year with my sweetie. (See above for clarification, LOL) So I'm going to do this for myself, and you can stop being jealous because you have benefits that I don't, and you have them every day. I am not going to wait for Prince Charming to show up before I enjoy my life. Cheers. ;)