Whether you’re the kind of traveler that packs well in advance or the night before, each of the tips in this packing guide will ensure you are well-packed and ready to explore with confidence.
Packing cubes are one of the surest ways to be well-packed and to stop wasting time searching for what you need. These soft, zipper enclosed cases come in varying sizes for all types of garments. Use packing cubes to sort clothing by activities, such as; hiking, going out for dinner, beach lounging, etc., or by type of clothing, such as; tops, bottoms, underwear, and socks, etc. Choose to go a step further and get creative by choosing different colored cubes so that you can quickly identify where your shirts are, without having to unzip the cube and peek in. Fill cubes with clothing, zip-up, and voila!
Compression bags use a vacuum to remove excess air, which minimizes the amount of space your clothes take up in your case. The question you must ask yourself before using these bags is, will there be a vacuum on the other end when you’re packing to come home? If there is, then these bags are fantastic, you can pack a ton of stuff easily. However, if there isn’t, and you’re not traveling one-way, then you may need to rethink these bags as you’ll likely end up with too much to pack when coming home!
Garment bags are perfect for protecting items like dinner jackets, dresses, and formal wear. These bags resemble a small carry-on, and vary in size and capacity but are the surest way to keep your outfit in tip-top condition. Garment bags do much more than a simple garment sleeve, which will only protect from the elements, and perhaps clumsy coffee drinking co-travelers.
Use reusable plastic (e.g. Ziploc) bags to organize and protect smaller items, such as jewelry, rather than placing the smaller items directly into the packing cubes.
Plastic grocery bags are great for separating your dirty or wet clothes from your clean ones. If you’d rather choose a reusable bag, such as a tote bag, you will often be gifted one after purchasing clothes at most retailers, so keep these and save them up for traveling. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask ahead of time to see if they provide clothing bags, and if so, forget this step and save yourself some space!
The content you choose to pack into your health kit will vary depending on your destination, and whether you’re traveling alone or with family. You simply never know what will happen on a trip. I once had such an intense reaction to a citrus-based shower gel at an Airbnb that I thought we would miss our flight home later that day. I could not sit still from the burning feeling. Fortunately, my wife had packed some aloe in our kit which helped to calm the situation. It turns out that Greek is very difficult to read when you’re panicking at the pharmacy. Bring your basics and of course anything that may be helpful to you specifically. Lozenges are always good to have handy. Remember to remove any sharp objects from your kit if you are not checking your bag.
- Roll Your Clothes – no debate here, always roll, you can even prevent wrinkles if done carefully. Roll everything before you start packing to make it easier when you do. Try rolling in tissue paper to prevent wrinkles too!
- Organize – accessing your items in your destination will be much quicker and less messy if organized, packing cubes can be great for this. However you organize, take a moment to consider what you may need first on your trip (eg: toothbrush) and ensure it’s on top.
- $pread It Out – if you are taking large quantities of cash with you, spread it around your luggage, this way if you lose a bag, you won’t lose all of your cash with it. Otherwise, keep it on you if possible.
- Separate Shoes – not from each other, but from everything else, use a plastic bag, or get creative with a shower cap!
- Lay it Out – lay out everything you think you will need for your trip, now put half of it back and start rolling and packing the rest.
- Layers>Bulky Clothing – Instead of taking up ⅓ of your suitcase with your favorite piece of knitwear (if you don’t have compressions bags) consider layering clothing to get the same level of warmth (though likely not the same level of coziness).
- Keep it Fresh – Dryer sheets, essential oils, or potpourri sachets (yes guys, even you) can be kept in your bags to keep your contents smelling fresh, you won’t regret it.
- Wear it – if you cannot bear to leave that favorite, oversized piece of knitwear home, wear it on the day of travel instead, along with any other large pieces to free up space.
- Decisions – If you are deciding between two of any item, always take the lighter option.
- Frequency & Accessibility – keep items that you will need to get to frequently in an easy-access spot, most carry-on cases have a “quick-access” outer pocket. And again, consider which items you’ll need to access first when you arrive.
- Leave Space – if you are likely to buy things for yourself and your friends and family on the trip, make sure you’ll have space to pack them on the way home by leaving space now. Or if your case is expandable, pack to capacity before expansion before you travel ensuring that extra space on your way home. You can also take old clothing and leave it at your destination at the end of your trip to save space on your way home.
- Cables – cables and chargers can be organized by Ziploc bag or an old glasses case can work great too
- Stay Mess-Free – remove the lids of any liquids that you do not want spilling in your bags, place a piece of plastic wrap evenly over the top and screw the lid back on for better security.
Quick tips for women
- List out cosmetics and skincare items
- Use a pillbox or little baggies for jewelry, seriously!
- Most comfy/neutral colored shoes
- Shoes – 2 pairs: pack flats, wear other
- Shoes – 3 pairs: sneakers, casual, sandals/boots
- 1 stiletto, if a fancy event is planned
- Be sure before you pack hiking boots
- Bring the jeans, leave the heels
- Pack neutral colors for versatile outfit options, add color with a scarf!
- Sarongs can be used as: A blanket, a pillow, head/shoulder cover, scarf, beach lounger; versatile!
- Elastic bracelets can hold things together and double as headbands
- 1 everyday, 1 sexy, and 1 sports bra
- Choose black and/or brown dress tops
- Place hat upside down in case, fill with underwear/light shirts/socks etc.
Quick tips for men
- Keep socks and underwear in your shoes to keep the shape of the shoes
- Pack your rolled-up belt in the collar of your folded shirt to keep the shape of the collar
- Pack your blazer inside out to prevent wrinkles
- Pack neutral colors and versatile clothing; 1 button-down + 1 t-shirt + 1 shorts + 1 pants = 6 good looking outfits
- Pack a plastic or tote bag to separate the clean from the dirty and don’t forget that potpourri sachet!
Quick Tips for families
- Infant and child “nourishment” is exempt from TSA liquid rules
- Control the kids’ comfort and temperature with layers
- Let them enjoy the trip more than their toys
- Use one large packing cube or one space bag for each person
- Suitcases that double as wheely chairs or booster seats are gold!
You’re all set, you’ve got your route to the airport or train station, you’re well-packed and ready to explore with confidence. Just a few last things to do before you leave, but you’ve planned so well that you have tons of time to spare!Ensure Your Tech is Fully Charged
This may need to begin the night before but make sure any tech that you are bringing is fully charged for your day of travel, your phone, your watch, your tablet, your laptop, your GPS, have them all ready.
Eat or Throw Out Fridge Contents
If you can finish anything left in your fridge that will go off while you’re away, do so, or get rid of it, you don’t want to come home to rotten food.
Turn Off Electronics
Turn off your wifi, unplug anything on a timer, anything that stays in standby mode, and anything else that you don’t need running if you’re not there to use it.
Pack Your Carry-on Case
You may have waited to pack your book or your laptop but now’s the time. Whatever else you choose to keep you busy during your flight, make sure you have, a pen, a notepad, an empty water bottle, deck of cards, lip balm, earplugs, jolly ranchers and any other personal essentials.