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, weigh your bag in advance using a bathroom scale, 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 from 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 its own spectrum of temperature and weather patterns. I’ve found myself bundled up in the Florida Keys and sunbathing 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.

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. Shoes you can dress up or dress down, a bike light that doubles as a flashlight, a shawl that can act as a light blanket, you get the idea.

Rule #5 Roll Don’t Fold

Get the most out of our carry on by rolling instead of folding your clothing. 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.DSCN1170

Bonus Tips

  • A small microfiber Travel Towel is a fraction of the size and weight of a normal towel.
  • 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. There also exists an extra small Travel Hair Straightener.
  • Consider traveling with a small insulated bottle such as a Klean Kanteen. This lifelong refillable bottle will keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold.
  • Looking to shed a few extra pounds of baggage weight? Consider ditching your laptop and getting a tablet. Traveling with an iPad Mini has been a versatile option for me and the device weighs less than a pound. Even the charger is a fraction the weight of a laptop’s.
  • Now that you have a tablet, you can also ditch the physical books for ebooks which will save you space and weight. The gift that keeps on giving.
  • Is your dried up mascara bumming you out? A couple drops of saline eye solution will revive it until you can find another.