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The Ultimate List of Smoky Mountain Vacation Packing Tips

Packing travel bags and suitcases is one of our favorite things about vacation. Think about it – between gathering vacation gear, planning out outfits and getting it all to fit into the bag, it’s like pre-vacation party to get you even for excited about your getaway. With so many great places in the Smokies to explore, we have had a lot of packing practice. That’s why we’ve compiled some of our best Smoky Mountain vacation packing tips along with a packing list.

Read all you need to know about packing below:

Where to Start?
First, do some climate research. Determine the normal highs and lows for the time of year you’re visiting, along with the weather forecast. Choose versatile items that you can still wear in the event that you encounter bad weather or the temperature drops or climbs a bit. This doesn’t mean pack for every possible weather occurrence. While temperatures and weather conditions can vary at higher elevations of the mountains, the Smokies have a fairly moderate climate, so packing for extreme or drastically changing temperatures isn’t necessary. Check out our Smoky Mountain weather video to help determine what will be best to pack for the upcoming week.

Next, establish and review your itinerary, naming every “thing” you might want or need for that activity. What are you planning on doing during your stay in the Smokies? Dress clothes may be good for a show and nice dinner, but you’ll definitely want to pack for comfort if you’ll be spending a couple days indulging in retail therapy. Are planning on going hiking in the Smokies or taking advantage of other outdoor opportunities the area has to offer? Appropriate gear – hiking poles, trail maps, packs, etc. – will be necessary, but you’ll also need to keep electronics in mind, such as your camera, charger and memory cards, as well.

Be sure to begin this process several days before your departure. This way you’ll have plenty of time to recall anything you might have forgotten. Organize this information into a list to check off as you pack. In addition to our Smoky Mountain vacation packing tips, we’ve created a printable checklist with common must-have items for your next trip here:

Smoky Mountain Vacation Packing Tips List

Pack Everything You Need – Not Everything
Once you’ve made an exhaustive packing list and are ready to pack everything up, gather your items and lay them all out. Try to eliminate half of those items. Overpacking leads to wasted room, messy cabin floors and items left behind because of the sheer amount of things brought along. It’s just simply too difficult to keep up with everything, so try to ditch at least some of your initial list.

Clothes That Have To Go
Make choosing versatile, low-maintenance pieces a goal when packing clothes. Keep these five factors in mind when choosing articles of clothing to pack, and try to make sure each piece you being fulfills at least three of them:

  • Comfortable for exploring both nature and the city, but can be dressed up and made appropriate for an evening out
  • Suitable for cool or warm weather
  • Conceals stains and spills
  • Packs compactly
  • Coordinates well with everything else you’ve chosen

Versatility applies to accessories, too. For instance, a neutral sarong can serve as a bathing suit cover up, picnic blanket, satchel and head wrap for bad hair days.

One pair of jeans is all you need. The same goes for slacks and other trousers. Having jeans in several washes or trousers in two different shades of khaki isn’t necessary.

Most of the cabins you’ll lodge in during your Smoky Mountain vacation are equipped with washers and dryers, so, more often than not, packing an outfit for every day of your stay isn’t needed. Even doing one load of laundry while on vacation can save you a lot of packing hassle.

Staying Connected
Use electronics to digitize certain items you might need with apps and features on your phone. You may not need a camera or camcorder if you’re phone has a high enough quality camera. Similarly, books, magazines, hiking logs, maps and travel guides can all be downloaded or accessed from your phone or tablet. If you do prefer the paper version, try to buy what you need once you arrive instead of packing several guides and maps that you may or may not need. You’ll be able to find these at the national park visitor centers.

Limit yourself to two or three electronic devices. Aside from the risk of losing or damaging these high-priced items, they can also function in place of each other. For instance, your tablet can access the Internet, write emails and stream movies just as well as your laptop can, so bring it, the more compact and less valuable device, instead of your computer.

Family using Ultimate List of Smoky Mountain Vacation Packing tipsPacking Action
Instead of stacking items on top of each other, arrange your clothes vertically, similar to a filing cabinet. This way you can see all that you’ve packed without unpacking the items above. From here you should be able to see and remind yourself of what you’ve packed. You’ll also be able to see any items that clash with other articles of clothing. Remove them.

We hope our Smoky Mountain vacation packing tips and list will make your next packing extravaganza even more enjoyable. Be sure to read our Smoky Mountain travel tips for scenic routes to take on your way to your next Smoky Mountain vacation.