Does it feel like you pack your entire house when you travel? Have you ever remarked with utter amazement that you do not wear or use half of what you cart along on any given trip? If you are going by RV or car, you can take a lot. However, if you are flying and need to navigate via trains, subways, taxis, boats, and planes, you will want to travel light. After all, no one needs to bring my sister’s non notorious 22 turtlenecks for a ten-day family Christmas vacation home or one of my close friend’s four pair of sequinning evening pumps for her cruise!
To avoid similar gaffes, here are my favorite packing tips:
- Pack what you absolutely cannot bear to lose—or want to have stolen– in your carry-on. This includes your medication, spare eyeglasses/sunglasses/reading glasses, a change of underwear in case your luggage is lost, and valuables (jewelry, camera, iPad).
- Pack anything that can leak in a Ziploc bag. You do not need shampoo, sunscreen, and insect repellant leaking all over your clothes. As for body soap, use a small bottle or two of liquid soap so that you can just toss that bottle away when depleted. Do you really want to lug home a heavy, messy cake of regular soap?
- Roll clothes instead of folding them. Not only will they take up less space, but they will also not wrinkle.
- Pack a couple of plastic bags for dirty laundry and wet bathing suits to keep them separate from your clean clothes.
- Travel with only your oldest underwear and throw them all out after using.
- Count out your meds and take only what you need. (Plus, an extra five-day supply in case of emergencies or unavoidable delays.) instead of packing bulky pill bottles, put them in a pill organizer or, better yet, in disposable pill pouches, which can, too, be discarded along the way, consolidating what remains into perhaps one very compact, flat bag. Just put a paper label inside with the name of each medication and dosage.
- Use space bags/compression bags to sort clothes in your suitcase/duffel and to take up less space. Some travelers even utilize packing cubes in which to pack an entire day’s outfits or to differentiate by category: underclothing, daywear, nightwear, and shoes. Family members could choose their own colors for quick recognition inside a large suitcase. This provides the bonus of none of your clothes ever coming into contact with drawers at your accommodations.
- Stuff socks and stockings inside shoes to save valuable space in your bags.
- Leave space in your suitcase for souvenirs or pack an extra collapsible tote. Some suitcases even come with the capability of unzipping an extra two inches of space, which may just be enough to handle that if you don’t overpack to begin with.
- Check the TSA website for what you are allowed to bring (3-1-1 rule for liquids) and what needs to stay home (bear spray, or chlorine for pools). Make note of what should be packed in your stored luggage (axes, corkscrews, darts, and aerosol sprays). Incidentally, antlers, bread machines, and your Harry Potter wand are all permitted in carry-on bags, so relax!
Many of us are starting to travel anew this year. Knowing how to pack for your trip eliminates a lot of hassle before, during, and after your time away, making for a much more relaxing adventure. Bon voyage!