Continuing in my travel series this week, I thought I would share some of my favorite packing tips that I have collected from all of the trips that I have taken. No matter if you’re going international or domestic, these packing tips will help you as you get ready to go on your trip.
My first and probably most important tip is to compartmentalize your things. Utilize pouches, packing cubes, and more to group your items into like categories to avoid them just rolling around your suitcase. Look for pouches that are multipurpose. Maybe a bag you had your shoes in can also be a beach bag. I swear by packing cubes. It makes packing so much easier for me because I can group like items of clothing together. They don’t take up very much room in your suitcase and can hold a lot. I used them when I went on a 10-day trip to Europe and managed to fit everything in a carry on.
Pack an extra bag
If you have room, try to bring an extra duffel bag or reusable bag. This is key if you are traveling abroad and plan on doing some souvenir shopping. An extra bag saved me on my way home from Asia last year when my suitcase was way overweight (seriously, how can you have a 30″ suitcase and expect people to put 50 pounds of stuff in it?). I put all of the items that added extra weight in that bag and just used it as a carry on. So now, one is definitely coming with me on my next international trip.
Slightly overpack the “essentials”
In my experience, you either overpack or you under pack. I lean more toward overpacking just because I don’t know what to expect and want to be prepared for anything. Anything you can think you might need, I most likely have. Stain wipes, meds, bug spray, a nail file…you name it, I probably have it. I think it’s important, especially on your flight to take some extra things with you just in case. My favorite essential? Electrolyte tablets for when you are feeling really dehydrated.
Buy toiletries abroad
This concept took me a while to grasp. If you are going to a developed country, chances are they have convenience stores and pharmacies. Sure, you won’t find a Target or Walmart, but you definitely will find a souped-up 7-Eleven. Why add more weight your luggage when you can just buy your toiletry essentials abroad? From experience, most places have the basics like shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant. Just buy a travel-sized item, use it up, and toss it before you leave. You would be surprised what speciality skincare you can find. When I was in Asia, they sold my favorite brand, Avène everywhere!
Pack a capsule wardrobe that you can wash/rewear
To minimize the number of clothing you bring, think about packing a mini capsule wardrobe. This is a wardrobe in which all pieces of clothing go together in as little clothing as possible. If everything goes together, the outfit combinations are endless, so you won’t have to wear the same outfit in different photos. I also recommend if you have the opportunity to wash your clothes, do it! My last hotel in Japan had a washer in unit so I took the time to wash all of my laundry to take home a suitcase of clean clothes.
Lock your luggage
I know, this seems a little paranoid, but I don’t want to take any chances when I check in my bag. I bought a pack of luggage locks last year and now use them for every trip. One tip I recommend is waiting to lock until after you weigh it to avoid having to unlock it in line if you need to take something out. Since checking my bag more, having it locked gives me much greater peace of mind from anyone going through it. Of course, this is totally optional.
Make sure you can carry your luggage
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been on a family vacation where your parents tell you that you are responsible for carrying your own luggage, no matter how heavy it is. Boy, did I scoff at that. Until I realized how true it was. So imagine carting a 30″ spinner, a duffel, and a tote across Asia. And did I struggle! If I were to do it all over again, I would try to make it so what I had was easier to carry. Not all metro stations had elevators or escalators so I had to cart things up and down the stairs. Do whatever you can to avoid that. Trust me. Lesson: make sure you can easily carry your luggage!
I hope these tips helped you out in your packing endeavors. Happy travels!