When you think of traveling, you probably think of the sights you’ll see, the food you’ll eat, and the culture you will experience. However, other, more prosaic concerns are crucial to a successful trip. Chief among these is packing. Traveling means you can’t take everything with you. Therefore, deciding what to bring and how to pack is one of the most important aspects of traveling.
Here are ten rules for packing better.
Make a list. Lists are always a good organizational tool. When it comes to packing, a list is the best way to ensure you don’t leave something important behind. A list is also invaluable for purposes of prioritization. Going over your list will help you to see what you truly need for your trip, and what can be left at home. Examine each item and ask yourself if you really need it.
Think about clothes last. Forgetting to pack a favorite shirt is no big deal. You can always buy another shirt whilst you are traveling. Forget your passport, phone charger or laptop and it can really put a downer on your trip.
Pack light. Dragging around too much luggage is a sure way to make a trip miserable. Heavy bags are extremely inconvenient — simply moving them can be difficult. Rare is the traveler who wishes they brought along heavier luggage. You’ll find you love the freedom and mobility of bringing minimal baggage. You will be less likely to have anything stolen and may be able to skip the luggage carousel in airports. A good rule is not to pack more than 1 weeks worth of clothing and wash clothes as you need to.
Use all empty space. There’s no reason to leave any part of your luggage empty, even if it’s a very small space. For example, fill your shoes with socks, underwear, or t-shirts. Besides clothing, small items like toiletries are perfect for stuffing into tiny crevices and openings.
Organize your bags. Putting everything in a jumble in your suitcase will make it harder to find what you need. A more organized approach will solve this problem and also save space. The goal is to divide your clothes and other items into simple categories. One approach is to use packing cubes. Or, try airless compression bags, which allow you to squeeze in even more into the available space.
Don’t bring what you can buy. Many tourists make the mistake of dragging along items they could easily buy at their destination. Remember, unless you are going to a third-world country, what you need will almost always be easily available. For example, don’t bring more than a small amount of toiletries along. You can buy more as you go.
Bring adaptable clothing. Packing the perfect clothing item for every possible circumstance is impractical. Instead, bring things that will be useful in different scenarios. For example, instead of a heavy coat, bring multiple warm layers that can be worn on their own. Opt for a nicer pair of comfortable walking shoes over dress shoes.
Do you need 3 pairs of shoes? Shoes take up a lot of space and add weight – not great for hauling around or for making sure you avoid unnecessary luggage fee’s.
Keep the essentials to hand. We’ve all seen that guy at the airport emptying his suitcase trying to find his passport. Keep essential items on your person or in hand luggage.
In addition to your main luggage have a well-stocked and quality carry on bag/travel bag. As mentioned earlier you really should keep essentials close to hand and it’s easiest to do this in a good quality travel bag. In here you should keep your medication, phone and charger, travel documents, any keys and your in-flight entertainment i.e. book or iPad. It’s also worth keeping a super lightweight and foldable change of clothes e.g. light trousers and t-shirt, especially if you have a connecting flight. Suitcases can go missing or not delivered to your connecting flight in time, leaving you with no change of clothes when you arrive at your destination. This happens more often than you may think!
Packing can be easy to overlook when making travel plans. It’s not the most fun part of traveling, but mundane parts of life can still be critical. Getting your packing right is certainly worth it. You’ll have a much better travel experience if you pack efficiently and lightly and bring what you really need.