When you take at least 10-12 flights and embark upon 5-6 long roadtrips every year, you develop a knack for packing and unpacking. Packing for me was overwhelming initially because of my indecisive nature. I always ended up packing more clothes than necessary due to all the “what if” questions that engulfed my mind. If you’ve had similar exasperating situations, then this article is for you.
I won’t lie to you, I have been frustrated at times while trying to pack an optimum amount of belongings in 2 full size suitcases and a carry-on bag. It reached to a point where I procrastinated the whole packing task to last minute because I had a nervous breakdown everytime I thought about ‘what to pack?’. I’m definitely not a light traveler. However, I did manage to travel across Costa Rica with nothing but a 50L backpack for over a week. So I can say traveling light is most certainly convenient.
Over the years, I learned a few tricks for smart packing which minimized the time it took not just to pack but to unpack as well. You don’t want to spend hours unpacking when you’ve just returned home from a long journey. Follow my plan and you’ll thank me for it. Here’s my list of tricks to have a hassle-free packing session before your upcoming trip.
Tip #1 : Use a calendar/planner
Use a calendar/planner to mark your trip dates and locations.
Having plans jotted on a physical copy/paper/app will help you plan packing better. Mark the days you’re going to spend going from one place to another in any form of transportation – flight/train/bus/car. That way you have to count 1 comfy outfit for each of these days and no more. Now mark the days you will be doing sight-seeing. Count 1 outfit, comfy or stylish, for those days. Simple! I actually put down what outfit to wear on which day and pack accordingly. The last one to wear goes at the bottom and the first one to wear remains at the top.
Tip #2 : Packing Cubes
Purchase good quality travel/packing cubes or organizing cubes. They cost about $20-$30 but make good sense. Label each packing cube with a clue of whats inside, for example, Scarves and dresses, undergarments, socks etc. You will understand the importance of this while unpacking or when you need something instantly and it saves you effort and valuable time. Needless to say, invest in good backpacks or luggage that has TSA approved number locks. Its always handy to have spare padlocks as well.
Tip #3 : Pack for the weather!
A windbreaker always comes in handy. I suggest tossing in a hat/cap and pair of sunglasses. A poncho, an umbrella and ziploc bags for small electronic items and documents, in case it rains. Quick dry towels are a boon!
If its summer, a sunblock cream is essential, SPF 30 minimum. Carry swimwear if you’re passing along a tempting beach or better, staying at one. I always carry a stowable/foldable ground cover that doubles up as a beach mat.
If you’re expecting snowy conditions, carry layers – sweaters, cardigans, jackets, puffers, parka, gloves, socks, mufflers, beanies, thermals.
Pick the right shoes per weather.
Tip #4 : Mix and Match
Carrying pieces that you can mix and match is important to keep your luggage weight in check. That obviously includes a pair of classic denim jeans, a jacket, a neutral colored hat (black/straw/beige), pair of comfy sneakers, a scarf that can double up as a coverup. I also carry a denim jacket and a pair of ankle length black booties. Reuse same pieces by doing laundry at least once during the journey. Carry tubes of detergent to avoid spills.
Tip #5 : Roll up
Rolling up your clothes helps save space and fits more stuff than the cubes could otherwise hold. Fit smaller clothes in gaps. I carry a drawstring bag as a portable laundry hamper.
Tip #6 : Save time & space
Make sure all your liquid bottles are in travel sized containers. Packing these liquid toiletries in a clear ziplock bag and then into a cube/pouch will save you from spills and the aftermath. Plus, in case you have to take them out at security checks, its easier to just pull out the ziplock bag instead of searching for it while in the queue. Even if you aren’t taking a flight, travel-sized containers are a good idea to make space for other things.
Tip #7 : No stains, no stinks!
Stow shoes first into plastic bags (reusable ones) and then in shoe bags unless you want dirt and stains to enter your luggage. Avoid putting socks in the same bag, it’ll all end up stinking.
Tip #8 : Gear up!
If traveling with photography gears, I suggest using an entire different backpack for that so as not to damage any of your precious equipments. I cannot stress enough the importance of having hard disks for backing up all your pictures and clearing space on memory cards. I have two 1TB WD hard disks, four 32GB SD cards and 2 microSD cards.
Tip #9 : Keep it light
Instead of carrying books, consider carrying an iPod or kindle for your reading material.
Tip #10 : Essentials
Your carryon should contain only those items that you will be using for the duration of your flight. Some airlines provide travel kits, but if not, carry your own pouch containing an eye mask, ear plugs, light blanket or throw, pair of socks, toothbrush, small toothpaste, a lip balm, small tube of moisturizer or hand cream. Apart from the travel kit you will need your neck pillow, mobile + charger + headsets, laptop + charger, iPod/kindle, a small snack bag just in case and any medications that you may need. I also carry a water bottle and a hoodie. At places where pickpocketing is an active sport, a fanny pack or a small cross body/ sling bag becomes a must to keep your important stuff close to you at all times.
There you go! You have 10 great tips to abide by while packing for trips. Hope you’ve found this informative. Hit ‘Follow’ for upcoming awesome travel tips.
Note: As a bonus, here’s a sample list of things to pack in different kits.
Toiletry kit – Soap/shower gel, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, shaving kits, hair gel, deodorant(checkin bag only), body lotion, nail cutter(checkin bag only), personal hygiene products, tweezers, q tips, laundry detergent tube, bands, scrunchies, clips, pins.
Vanity kit – 2 foundations, 2 shades of lipsticks, a black liquid liner, a kohl liner, compact powder, base cream, mascara, blending brush, a couple of ear studs and hoops, a watch, a few small neckpieces.
First aid kit – Band-aids, cotton buds, Antiseptic cream/powder, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Antihistamine or allergy medicines, pain medication etc.
Safety kit (only in checkin bag) – Torches, Swiss knife, rope, power bank, emergency phone, pepper spray, instant food packets, extra padlocks.