Now that the world is opening up again, it's time to make up for all those trips you missed out on! You can make so many mistakes while packing that affect your enjoyment while on your trip, like forgetting an essential item and having to run around stores to find a replacement. I also have flashbacks of struggling to close an overpacked suitcase and having to lug around a heavy suitcase everywhere, yet only ending up wearing a third of the clothes.
To help you avoid some of my previous mistakes, I've compiled some useful packing tips that will help you pack like a pro and minimize stress, so you can focus on enjoying that much-needed vacation :)
Make a List
Step number one is to always write a packing list well in advance. Start writing this list days, or even weeks, before you pack. There will always be something you miss, so writing in advance gives you time to triple-check you have all the essentials. This also allows you to take note of and purchase any additional items you might need for your vacation. My favorite way to write a packing list is by activity. After you have all of the toiletries and essentials written down, write down your itinerary. Then, highlight each individual activity and start to build an outfit around that event.
Lay Things Out
The next step is to take that list mentioned above and lay out an outfit for each event in your itinerary. Remember that you can wear clothes more than once on a trip, and be sure to take multifunctional pieces into account! For example, a pair of jeans could be worn for a casual stroll around the city center or dressed up with a pair of heels for a fancy dinner. This should also be where you ruthlessly edit your packing list-only pack what you need and leave behind the "just in case" clothes.
Rolling clothes can be very effective and help you maximize your space. This method is especially useful for items that wrinkle easily. Rolling your clothes also increases visibility when packing for travel and also functionality while on your vacation. When the clothes are rolled next to each other, instead of folded on top of each other, you can see all of your items at a glance. This lets you quickly grab whatever clothes you need instead of having to rustle through a pile to find the right top.
Packing cubes are the best inexpensive investment for someone who travels often. This organization tool elevates your packing game and will keep your clothes compressed and folded flat or neatly rolled. This allows you to pack even more clothes than you were first able to. Once you're settled in at your destination, you can move the cubes directly into the drawers of your hotel's dresser, unzip, and you're good to go. No more rifling through your suitcase to find that one pair of pants! If you want to take it a step further, pack by day; each packing cube holds every outfit needed for a single day in your trip.
Organization for traveling doesn't just end once you've arrived at your destination. All these clothes that were strategically packed still have to be brought back along with any dirty clothing. Bring along a laundry bag, or designate a packing cube for worn or dirty clothes. This ensures that your dirty clothes stay separate from the clean ones while you're on your trip. As an added bonus, they are also easily separable and ready to throw straight in the washer once you get back from the trip.
Everyone knows how a piece of jewelry can really elevate your outfit; they also know how annoying it can be to arrive at your destination with a tangled mess of necklaces. When packing necklaces, simply thread one side of the chain through a plastic straw and attach to the other end to keep one side rigid and tangle-free. Use Ziploc bags or old mint tins like Altoids or Tic Tac boxes to keep your earrings together. A pill container also works to keep your jewelry separate and organized.
It's no secret that shoes take up the most space in your luggage. It's important to choose lightweight travel shoes and pack them in a way that saves space and prevents them from soiling an entire trip's worth of outfits. If you don't have a shoe bag, a simple grocery bag works to keep your clothes clean from your shoes. To maximize space in your luggage, pack shoes that work for multiple occasions. If you must, pack only one pair for each occasion: casual, formal, athletic, etc. Make sure the shoes you wear on the journey to your destination are comfortable and also go with the outfits you brought along.
If you're traveling in winter, you may be stressing about how to fit that bulky coat in your luggage. On the plane, you are generally allowed one carry-on and one personal item, excluding any extra jackets. Pack a pillowcase in your carry-on and wear your thick coat onto the plane. If you get hot or need to sleep, stuff your coat into the pillowcase, and voilà! You have a place to put your coat and a comfy pillow to sleep on. If you wish to put your coat away before stepping onto the plane, your pillow will be allowed on as a personal item. However, be sure to check your individual airline's carry-on policy. This hack also works just as well with other modes of transportation!
Pick Your Travel Bag Wisely
The final but most important tip is to choose your travel bag very carefully. It can be overwhelming when choosing what to pack your clothes in. There are so many different sizes, materials, and features that travel bags can have. Each trip and each person's needs are different when it comes to traveling, so there really isn't a "one size fits all" when it comes to finding a bag. When choosing a bag, keep in mind your destination, method of travel, and any specific features you need, such as a laptop sleeve or waterproof exterior. In any outcome, as long as you pack strategically and make use of the previously mentioned tips, any bag will work and be perfect for your next adventure!