The online travel world is full of packing tips: packing tips for traveling light; ways to pack for summer vacations; ways to pack for winter vacations; ways to pack for a business trip; how to pack a carry on; how to pack for a cruise… the list goes on. So how useful would a reference list of packing tips that were general and covered most situations be? Read on for the ultimate packing tips.
1. Determine Climate Conditions
Before any trip, check out the weather conditions and pack accordingly. There are many packing tips that tell you what to pack, but the real secret is getting the balance right. Many people make the mistake of overdoing the “just in case” items. You only need a couple of these, because if you’ve done your weather homework you should know what conditions will be like (of course, you can’t legislate for extreme or freaky weather).
2. Bag Choice
Very few give serious consideration to their choice of luggage. Very often it’s the look that we go for but your luggage should suit the purpose. If you choose a heavy suitcase with loads of pockets and compartments, multiple wheels and carrying straps, you are immediately cutting a hefty chunk out of your baggage allowance. Soft holdalls often hold a lot more than a larger sized suitcase and they don’t suffer as much damage. If you only pack for carry-on, choose a bag that fits the smallest space as defined by airline’s specifications – that way you won’t find your bag being checked into cargo because it’s a tiny fraction over length.
3. Plan Your Wardrobe
Use a minimalist approach to your packing and fashion by mixing and matching your clothes. For instance my packing advice would be to pack one pair of trousers and one skirt with a selection of 3 tank tops, 3 t-shirts and 1 smart blouse which will give you at least seven different outfits by mixing and matching. Selecting solid color tank tops and t-shirts work best for coordinating clothes. These outfits can then be dressed up with a small scarf or jewelry for smarter occasions. This should take you through a vacation where you’re going to spend most of your time in shorts or swimwear and you’ll have room to throw in a selection of “going-out” clothes for evenings.
4. Pack Smartly and Wisely
Pack medicines and everyday necessities such as toiletries, make-up, and hair brush as well as valuables such as your camera, jewelry, etc into your hand luggage. If you’re traveling abroad, one of the best tips for packing is to put a spare set of clothes in your hand luggage. Occasionally, luggage does get lost or left behind so it’s good to know you’ll have at least one change of clothes.
Obviously from a security sense it’s wise that your money, ID, credit cards, etc are kept as safe as possible. One of the most sensible packing tips is to keep photocopies of your ID, visas, credit cards, etc separate from the originals in case of loss or theft of the originals. Perhaps you could exchange the photocopies with copies of your travelling partner.
6. Basic Accessories
Packing basic essential accessories will go a long way to smarten up your daywear outfits for evening and the more ‘dressier’ occasions. So into your case should go a lightweight scarf, a couple of sparkly necklaces, dangle and stud earrings, bracelet, smart hair clips, sunglasses, small purse or bag and perfume. Packing trinkets into a jewelry roll bag will keep them all safely together inside the individual zipped sections.
One very important piece of packing advice to be given is the need to take comfortable shoes. You don’t want your whole trip ruined by walking around in uncomfortable shoes, causing blisters and tired feet. Take three comfortable pairs – smart sandals, pair of flip-flops and a pair of flats. However if the weather is cold, change the sandals for boots or slip on shoes. Always wear the heaviest pair for the journey instead of packing them.
8. Cover Ups
Whatever the weather conditions, two matching cardigans should be thrown into the mix as even in warm climates it can get quite cool in the mornings and evenings as well as in some buildings, hotels and restaurants that have air-conditioning turned on full blast. If you don’t like cardigans, have a pashmina in a neutral color that will go with everything.
As jeans are heavy, it is advisable to take only one pair, preferably in the smarter dark rinse color. Combined with a nice top, this outfit can be dressed up with jewelry and smart sandals. Keep your case lighter by wearing the jeans on the airplane.
10. Pajamas and Underwear
For nightwear, a lightweight t-shirt and pajama pants is all that is needed plus enough underwear and socks (if wearing shoes) for at least five days before the laundry is done.
11. Cell Phone Chargers
I recently came across a brilliant idea after observing a fellow traveler wanting to charge her cell phone. I watched as she retrieved a glasses case from her hand luggage and out came her charger all neatly tucked inside. The next day I purchased a funky case and my charger is now kept in this for travelling.
12. Don’t Fold but Roll
Learn how to pack properly and with ease. People have different ways of packing and instead of the traditional method of folding clothes and stacking on top of each other some people roll the garments up and stack them neatly side by side and row upon row. This way, not only are more clothes able to be fitted into your case but it also keeps creases at bay.
13. Saving Space
A great packing tip for saving space is to stuff your shoes with small items such as socks, underwear or bikinis.
14. Packing Well
Taking too much clothing is totally unnecessary and will become a burden, physically and mentally. The lighter you pack the lighter your mind will become – become imaginative in the choice of clothing you actually need to take and be really critical – ask yourself if you really do need those extra trousers or jacket even though you love it - be ruthless.
15. Cotton Balls
Cotton balls have a variety of uses and one use is to place a cotton ball into eye-shadow compacts as this will keep the compressed eye-shadow powder from breaking.
Keep your liquid and gel toiletries in a separate bag to your dry toiletries, especially if you are flying as this is a requirement when passing through security. The liquid and gel toiletries must not be more than 3oz size container sizes and must also fit into a 1 liter or 1 quart size resealable plastic bag. A great idea is to ask for sample sizes when you buy your usual sized toiletries.
If you intend to wash your clothes while away, put some dry laundry soap or a small tube of travel soap into a resealable plastic bag and pack safely into a side pocket together with a travel-sized clothes line and a few small pegs.
18. Get Creative
You can really put your mind to using various objects for packing and to keep things safe. For example, you can use plastic soap cases as protection for anything easily damaged, pill bottles for q-tips, earrings held in the holes of watch straps, and I’ve even seen lip balm containers used for rolled up dollars!
19. Make a List
I’ve deliberately left this one to last because although it generally appears at the top of every list of packing tips, I want it to have more impact. All of the tips for packing you’ve read above won’ mean diddly-squat unless you have a list of what you need to take. And once you’ve made your list and are ready to pack – lay it all out on the bed before putting it in the suitcase. That way you can judge if you’ve got too many clothes, or you’ve not done a good job of mixing and matching, whether you’ve chosen the right shoes and if you’ve gone overboard on the jewelry and makeup.
That’s all I’ve got to say really other than don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need a huge suitcase full of stuff. You really don’t! Are you a minimalist packer or a crammer?