‘Have I taken too much?’, ‘Should I bring that thing that I might need, (even though I never use it at home)?’, ‘Should I take my straighteners?’, ‘Are 12 pairs of shorts a little excessive?’, ‘My bag won’t shut!’ Sound familiar?
Some travelers jam two weeks worth of gear in their bags for a long weekend. Others pack a bit too lightly and forget important things like medicine or passports. Savvy travelers strike the perfect balance and bring just what they need – with a little help from our list of road-tested packing tips, of course!
Prioritize your comfort and the security of your stuff. Necessities may be small, but they are mighty! Before leaving on a trip there are a lot of little things to think about and scenarios to plan for.
When packing your clothes, you don’t want to neatly fold them individually as you would in a dresser. If you do, they will crease when compressed. Follow this simple step-by-step guide and you may even have room left over :p
1) Pick the right bag for you.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a trusted bag. Whether you need a bag with wheels, straps, or both. If you prefer the ease of a suitcase but also the comfort of a backpack, get a mix of both! It’s possible to get backpacks that unzip like a suitcase so you can find things easier.
Note: Be aware of restrictions on the size and number of bags you may bring onto your flight. Many airlines now charge a fee for every checked bag or have lowered the maximum permitted weight limits for checked luggage. Check with your airlines first before start packing your bags.
Most airlines these days are charging passengers for checked luggage, regardless of weight. This means everyone is now trying to cram clothes and gear for a two-week vacation into a carry-on and a purse or a small backpack, both of which are usually heavier than the person carrying them. Don’t be fooled – flight attendants are onto passengers who try to bring too much stuff into the cabin, and they’ll make you check it, even as you try to board.
Simply stick to the guidelines and you’ll be golden. A small carry-on suitcase that’s light enough for you – yes, you – to lift up into the overhead bin is fine. One additional bag, like a purse or a laptop bag (but not both), is also allowed. It should fit under the seat in front of you and leave enough room for your feet.
Not only do these rules follow the official guidelines, but it will make you far comfier on your flight if you don’t have a huge bag crammed in at your feet, a shopping bag tucked in by your hip, and a sore shoulder from lifting your overstuffed carry-on into the overhead bin.
2) Get a water proof bag or bag cover.
Chances are you’ll meet all kinds of weather on the road, so a waterproof cover will help to keep your backpack and its contents in tip top condition.
3) Dryer Sheet
Put a dryer sheet at the bottom of a suitcase to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
4) Rolling Your Clothes
Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants, trousers, jeans, skirts and t-shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves and then roll from the bottom up.
5) Fold Clothes Together
If you have clothes that need to be folded, use tissue paper to keep them from wrinkling. Take two or more garments, for example trousers, and lay half of one pair on top of the other. Fold the one on the bottom over the pair on the top. Then take the other and fold it on the top. This gives each pair some cushion where you’ve folded it so it’s less likely to crease or wrinkle in the folds.
6) Have a day-by-day plan.
Pack some essentials at the top of your bag so you don’t have to unpack everything when you get to your destination, and you can just to get to what you need at that time. For instance, if you’re arriving late at night, put your PJ’s, tooth brush and toothpaste near the top so you can get to them easily.
7) The Bundle Approach
It’s a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but I’ll do my best. You need luggage that opens up and lays flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular “core” with dimensions that are at least ½ to ¾ the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.
Start with your sports jacket or the longest, most wrinkle-prone item you have. With the collar or waistband flat, place it against the bottom edge of the bag and drape the rest of the garment over the opposite side of the bag. Take another garment and place it in the opposite direction, flattening and smoothing out both garments in the bag and draping the remainder over the side. If you have trousers or other narrow items, do the same with them in the narrow direction of the bag. Keep alternating your items, ending up with the most wrinkle-resistant clothes you have.
When you finish, place your “core” in the middle. Now you’re going to start folding the garments over the core and each other in the reverse order you put them in. If you fold something over and there’s excess draping over the sides of the bag, tuck it underneath the bundle you are creating.
What you will end up with is a bundle of all of your clothes that looks like a pillow. You can pick it up in one piece. It’s compactly packed and doesn’t waste an available space in your luggage. Plus, because of the way things are folded, your clothes will wrinkle less.
To find something in the bundle, lay it flat and unwrap until you reach the layer you want. Take the item out and refold the remainder. If done properly each layer should result in a self contained bundle at each layer.
QUICK TIP: Pack heavy things in the middle of your rucksack, as close to your back as possible. This will put less strain on your back when you carry your rucksack.
8) Line Collars – Man Shirts
When packing, line collars with a belt to keep them crispy.
9) Suit Coats
Pack your suit coats inside out to keep them clean and avoid creasing.
10) Vacuum Sealed Bags
Cram the most into your carry on. Vacuum sealed bags can save you a ridiculous amount of space in your carry on. Makes the need for checking a bag obsolete.
11) Shoes Packing
A shower cap is an easy way to cover the bottoms of shoes.
12) For Liquid Bottles
Prevent messy spills in your luggage. Just unscrew the lids and place a simple patch of plastic wrap on the top and screw them back on. This will prevent any liquids from ruining your trip.
13) Buddy up!
If you’re travelling in a group or a pair, talk to your travel buddy about what you’re both packing so you don’t double up. For example, girls, if you’re travelling with a mate and can’t live with out your straighteners, maybe one of you can bring a hair drier and one of you can bring the straighteners (although do consider going natural – it’s liberating!)
14) Take advantage of the soft cloth shoe bags.
Good quality shoes usually come with material bags enclosed in the shoe box. Don’t throw them out! They are perfect for storing jewelry, sunglasses, and small evening bags. They also are great to protect your clothing from the heels of your shoes. Plastic grocery bags are a suitable alternative. The idea is to keep your shoes separated from your clothing while keeping restroom, airport, and sidewalk germs at bay. When you return home, toss them in the wash and have them ready for your next trip.
15) Hanging Organizers (Ideal for those who travel frequently for short duration)
Save time packing on the go! – Hanging organizers can be packed ahead of time making it really simple to slide into your suitcase and leave in a hurry.
16) Dry bags (Optional)
Organize your bag by separating out your clothes into categories (shirts, tops, shorts, jeans, pants, leggings, etc) and packing them in separate bags. It will make things easier to find and will add another layer of waterproofing.
Quick Tip for first time traveler: When preparing for your trip, do a packing trial run. Pack your bag full of everything you think you’ll need, then unpack it all and half it. You’ll be very glad you did later.
B) WHAT NOT TO PACK
1) Don’t pack too many clothes
Here are 2 very good reasons why: i) you will want to bring back souvenirs and buy more clothes when you’re away anyway so you need to make sure you have room and ii) you’ll probably end up wearing the same few pieces the whole time anyway.
2) Don’t get a bag that’s too big
While it may seem tempting to buy a large one and fill it with things you ‘might’ need, don’t forget you’ll spend a lot of time carrying your backpack around. So the lighter it is, the better for you.
3) Don’t pack your entire beauty routine
If you use eight different products to tame your wild curls or have an elaborate face-washing regimen down to a science, let loose a bit when you travel instead of carrying an army of beauty products with you across the globe. Trust us – you won’t look like a cave woman in your vacation pictures if you use a shampoo/conditioner combo for a few nights. If you’re adventurous enough to leave home and explore an exotic destination, we bet you can also handle leaving behind a few hair products.
If you are staying at a major chain hotel that will offer complimentary toiletries – use them! Don’t bring your own 24-ounce shampoo and conditioner bottles to the hotel and then stuff the hotel ones in your suitcase to take home. If you don’t use them on the road, you’ll probably never use them at home.
There are lots of products that have multiple uses. Opt for a shampoo/conditioner combo. Bring a tinted moisturizer with SPF. Let your moisturizing body wash double as a shaving cream. Share your shampoo, soap or toothpaste with your traveling partner. Buy a make-up compact that contains more than one color, such as an eyeshadow quad.
Lose the bulky containers. Instead, try zip-top bags. We stuff and pour everything we can into them, including hair products, lotions, cotton balls and even sunscreen. (Note: Do not put large liquid-filled zip-top bags in your carry-on luggage; according to TSA regulations, liquid-filled containers may be no larger than 3.4 ounces by volume.) To prevent spills, put all of your liquid-filled baggies in a larger plastic grocery bag – and be sure not to pack it next to any sharpened things. ALTERNATE OPTION (THE BEST ONE): Just unscrew the lids and place a simple patch of plastic wrap on the top and screw them back on.
4) Do not overpack your bag. Screeners will have a difficult time closing your luggage if selected for inspection, which will only lead to wrinkles and the potential for lost articles.
6) Do not stack books and other documents on top of each other; instead, spread them out throughout your bag.
C) PACKING STRATEGIES
Lists work for some and bring no benefit for others – personally I can’t function with out them. Make a list before packing so you can plainly see what you have, what you still need to get and what you have, but don’t really need.
Keep your final list with you so you can quickly refer to it when questioning whether you bought that thing you’re about to delve into your over packed bag looking for… and then find that you didn’t even add in the first place.
1) Scan important documents before leaving for your trip.
2) Keep loose chargers and cables organized with a glasses case.
3) Use a spring from an old pen to protect chargers from bending and breaking.
4) Use a binder clip to protect the head of shaving razors.
5) Use a pill container to keep jewelry organized and untangled.
6) Tuck your soap and wash cloth together with this easy-to-fold pouch.
7) Keep hair clips tidy with an empty tic-tac container.
8) Keep your travel-size containers and refill them, instead of buying new each time.
9) Pack some plastic bags to keep wet cozzies and dirty shoes separate from the rest of your things.
10) Don’t forget to pack your camera 🙂
I have learned the hard way on several occasions and it’s worth the extra effort to pack smart.
D) WHAT TO PACK IN A HAND LUGGAGE
1) Keep your important things with you
Bags can get lost – it’s an unfortunate fact of life that we just have to accept if we want to travel. So just in case, make sure anything important/special to you gets packed in your hand luggage, (just in case).
2) Spare clothes
Keep a spare clothes in your hand luggage to change into upon landing if you’re taking a long flight – you’ll instantly feel freshened up.
3) Keep your valuables close
Pack your cash, jewelry, daily medication, laptop, tablet, mobile phones and technology chargers in your carry-on bag.
E) FINAL PACKING
1) Stand Out From the Crowd
Add a tie/belt/strap/scarf to your suitcase/backpack so you can easily identify it at the luggage carousel.
2) Don’t forget to lock your bag.
ENSURE YOU’RE INSURED
Sometimes however hard you try things can go wrong. Make sure you get insurance so that you can replace those essential items in case they get lost or stolen when you are away.
F) THE RETURN TRIP PACKING
Nobody wants to go through the hassle of finding and matching dirty socks on the last day of a vacation, and it’s not like your washing machine cares if what you feed it is wrinkled. Instead of wasting those last few hours in paradise, bring along a compressor bag like the Eagle Creek Pack-It. Just toss all your dirty clothes in (plus a dryer sheet to combat the stink) and these compressor bags will reduce their content’s volume by up to 80 percent—leaving you with plenty of extra room for souvenirs, gifts, and such.
TIP: Go casual, simple, and very light. Remember, in your travels you’ll meet two kinds of tourists — those who pack light and those who wish they had.