Packing Like a Pro
“When packing for a trip lay out everything you wish to take. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”
Successful packers know that traveling light means freedom and flexibility. That being said there’s nothing more frustrating than having to replace an expensive or hard to find piece of equipment still sitting on your nightstand at home. With a little foresight and creativity you too can pack your luggage light and effectively like a pro.
Rule #1 Make a List
And check it twice. List your items in groups under headings such as “electronics” “clothing” and “toiletries” to minimize the risk of forgetting something. Crafting your list early gives you time to buy any additional items you may need. A little preparation goes a long way.
Speaking of preparation: It is advantageous to know your airline’s restrictions for baggage. You don’t want to be that person at the airport frantically trying to drop luggage weight minutes before a flight. Overweight baggage fees can cost you as much as $100 and oversize baggage fees as much as $200! That’s a luxurious night in another country right there. Pack smart and save that money for merriment at your destination.
The Priorities Method
Packing can definitely be overwhelming. There you are faced with an empty suitcase and mounds of things you want to take. How is it all going to fit? I’ve saved myself a lot of time and rearranging by following the priorities method.
Start by sorting your things into three groups
Group One Things you cannot live without or replace once you arrive
Group Two Things you really really want to take and will be useful
Group Three Things you’d like to take if there’s room
Once you’ve sorted everything into these three groups you’re ready to pack your first group. Then pack as much of the second group as you can without overfilling your luggage. Lastly add what you can of group three. Remember to leave room for souvenirs. And voila you’re packed!
Rule #2 Know Your Destination
Most popular travel spots have stereotypical climates. The Caribbean is thought of as warm and balmy while Scandinavia is frigid. But in reality every place has it’s own spectrum of temperature and weather patterns. I’ve found myself bundled up in the Florida Keys and sun bathing in Oslo. Check the weather forecast before you depart and pack accordingly. Also be aware of events in the area.
It is also helpful to know what amenities you will have once you hit the ground. Do you need to bring your own hairdryer? Toilet paper? Are there laundry facilities? Contact your accommodations ahead of time if in doubt.
Rule #3 Less is More
It’s easy to fall into the mindset of packing everything in your closet “just in case”. Don’t. This is a slippery slope to exorbitant baggage fees and your very own souvenir hernia. Pack clothing for versatility. Pack neutral colors that get along happily with one another. Every clothing item should go well with at least 2 or 3 other clothing items. Pack to layer instead of packing one massive coat. Forgo the bulky shoes and pack one pair necessary for your activities and one pair of versatile flip flops.
Don’t stuff your bag with toiletries. Things like shampoo, lotion, soap etc. are all readily available in other countries. Plus it’s fun exploring shops in other countries and seeing what is all the local rage in flavors and scents. If you can’t find a toiletry item in your destination country that probably means the locals survive without it and you will too.
Rule #4 Pack Dual Purpose
In order to conserve space and increase effectiveness I challenge myself to see how many items I can pack that have two or three uses. Pants that convert into shorts, bike light that doubles as a flashlight, roller luggage that can also be worn as a backpack.
Rule #5 Roll Don’t Fold
If you have plenty of space folding may be an option for you. For those of us trying to get the most out of our carry on (while still having room for a few souvenirs) rolling is the way to go. Avid travelers agree that rolling your clothing is a better use of space and reduces the chance of aggressive wrinkles. For help with organizing consider using packing cubes and ziploc bags.
Alexa’s Bonus Tips
- One traveling light must-have is a small microfiber towel which is a the fraction of the size and weight of a normal towel. Granted, it isn’t big enough to wrap around yourself to strut through your friend’s apartment but it dries exceptionally fast and weighs as little as 1.5 ounces.
- Have access to a hair straightener? This useful tool can also iron lapels, sleeves, and hems in a pinch. It’s not for the ironing perfectionist but it will smooth key areas to keep you from looking like a disheveled traveler.
- Looking to shed a few extra pounds of baggage weight? Consider ditching your laptop. Traveling with an iPad Mini has been a versatile option for me and the device weighs than a pound. Even the charger is a fraction the size and weight of your laptop’s.
- Is your dried up mascara bumming you out? A couple drops of saline eye drops will revive it until you can find another.