OK, you’ve booked that cruise, and it’s almost time to go. Surely you will need 2 steamer trunks and a carry on, right?! NOT! Packing may be as subjective as food…I don’t know, but let me show you what I traveled to Europe for 3 weeks with…including a 14 night Celebrity cruise.

The first thing I tell people that ask me about packing for a cruise is “don’t overpack.” Most do, and frankly, I’ve done so as well in my early cruising career. Simply put, you don’t need to take more than will fit in what you see pictured above on most any cruise. One pair of jeans, 2 pairs of khakis, and a handful of dressy t-shirts, a couple of not so dressy t-shirts, shorts, underwear, a swim suit, workout clothes, and 2 pairs of shoes (one workout, one casual) make up your core wardrobe. Throw in some flip flops in the front pocket of your bag and you’re golden. All of that, and probably more will fit in a standard roller bag and backpack. Keep in mind that I was carrying 3 weeks worth of diabetic supplies too! As you can see, I traveled light. MrsMJ traveled with a very similar setup. But wait…what about formal night?! Well, MrsMJ packed a couple of dresses that can be basically thrown in, and come out unwrinkled. And yours truly, I rented a tuxedo even though I own one. Would I have been allowed to cruise if my rented tuxedo had not shown up? Yes!

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, formal night is the most over rated, over worried about concept in the history of mankind. Let me be clear. I love wearing a tuxedo, but you don’t have to! Dress codes on most cruise ships are “recommended” not required. That said, I would never show up in the main dining room on formal night in a pair of jeans. Just not my style. Lesser known secret: on most ships, the specialty restaurants are “casual” even on formal night. The buffets always are. In short, you aren’t going to starve on formal night if you elect not to wear formal dress on your cruise. Just pack light and make peace with the fact that you are going to need to do laundry sometime during your cruise!

If you’re getting ready for a cruise, pack wisely and please DO NOT overpack. I’ll be glad to answer anyone’s questions. You can read all of my tips for new cruisers here.

I am in the midst of a rather intense few weeks of work and travel. I’ll be posting new content regularly, but filling in some spots with “Best of” posts from time to time. How does a post get qualified as “Best of?” Pageviews, comments, and intuition. This post originally appeared on February 28, 2013.