No matter the length of the trip, be it a weekend getaway or a three-week Himalayan trek, you'll need to pack a bag, and you’ll want to be smart about your packing. There is a lot to consider when determining what to bring, such as the type and length of your trip, your itinerary, the weather, the size of your luggage, and any weight limits imposed by your mode of transportation. With so many factors at play, it’s easy to over pack or under pack, especially if you’ve waited until the last minute. (You wouldn’t wait til the last minute, now would you?). ;)
After you become a packing pro, The only question that remains is where South Shore Travel will help you, with your impeccable packing skills, travel to next?
1. Packing checklist: The first order of business is to keep a packing checklist. The easiest way to stay on top of what to pack is to keep an ongoing list in your phone. This is a great way to make sure you are not forgetting your absolute essentials to pack for every trip such as your chargers, cleanser, bathing suit, daily sunscreen, etc... It makes last-minute packing a lot less stressful because there's always a checklist for reference
2. Packing cubes: There's not much that makes me feel like an organized human as much as dividing my belongings into color-coded cubes. It's so wonderful to know exactly where everything you brought is as soon as you unzip your suitcase.
3. Roll, don’t fold: I am a roll-don't-fold devotee. When packing your clothes into your packing cubes, you will be smart to roll your garments instead of folding them flat. Done carefully, it also keeps your clothes from wrinkling so badly.
4. Pack in-flight essentials in a separate pouch: Next time you are primed for a trip, try packing a small zippered pouch in your carry-on bag and fill it with all the things that you will want to keep with you on the flight. Some great items to include in your pouch would be headphones, earplugs, medications, snacks, phone, your wallet and so on, so that when you board you can just pull that pouch out, toss it into your seat, and then place your carry-on in the overhead bin, quickly and efficiently. I also pack my snacks in a ziplock bag since sometimes security requirements will require that.
5. Pack by outfit: There's nothing more annoying than struggling to stuff everything back into your suitcase at the end of a trip only to realize you didn't even wear half the clothes you brought. That's why we suggest you pack strictly by outfit, not by individual items. Only let pieces that you have a plan for make the cut. For example, I'll take a skirt only if I know I'm bringing a top and shoes that I would wear with it, and I'll think about the activities on my itinerary and what I see myself wearing while doing them. Trying to pack with a color scheme in mind really helps you take less but look pulled together. Throw in a scarf which can be used for many things and takes up minimal space.
6. Keep a pre-packed toiletry bag: Honestly, who has the time required to sort through all of their personal essentials last minute before taking off on a trip? From skin care products and toothbrushes to body washes and shampoos, there are so many items that can be easily forgotten to pack on a trip. I recently started keeping a separate toiletry kit stocked with duplicates of all my essentials just in travel size. This means I can just grab my toiletries and go, with no risk of forgetting some crucial cream or spray, plus it gives me an excuse to go nuts on all those cute mini items in line at your favorite cosmetics store!
7. Bring half of what you initially packed: When going on your first international trip most people are told to pack everything they would like to take with them, and then remove half of it from their suitcase. I find this really helps in terms of figuring out what one actually needs for a trip and bringing just the essentials. I also find that this advice can go nicely hand-in-hand with the rule of packing by outfit.
8. Choose a soft-sided bag: Packing in a soft-sided weekender or duffel gives you the flexibility (literally) to shape your bag to what you're packing instead of the other way around. For example, a canvas overnighter takes on a different shape depending on what one needs it to hold and will squish, even when packed almost beyond its means, into spaces a hard-sided roller bag just won't go. An added note, it’s also a great idea to pack a smaller, foldable tote bag in your luggage that you can easily pull out and use to carry any souvenirs that may not fit in your luggage when returning home. This is always a lifesaver in a pinch!
9. Always be ready to go: The more you pack, the easier it gets (or at least, the easier it should get), so make being ready to travel part of your everyday life. Collect travel-sized toiletries when you have the chance: Get an extra toothpaste when you go to the dentist, ask your hair stylist for shampoo and conditioner samples, and keep all of them organized in a ready-to-grab toiletry bag. Learn which items of clothing work best for travel - they shouldn't wrinkle easily, they should work for day or evening, and they shouldn't take up a lot of space in your bag. Also, always pack less - what you didn't use on your last trip - don't bring it.
10. Pack socks inside shoes: To save more space in your carry-on bag, try packing your socks inside your shoes. Not only will that save space in your bag, the socks will help your shoes retain their form and prevent the shoes from getting squished in an over packed bag.
11. Have a ready-to-go health kit: I've learned to always pack a small first aid kit. I suggest keeping a ready-to-go health kit stocked with Band-Aids, Neosporin, eye drops, pain relievers, allergy medication, cold medicine, medicine for stomach trouble, itch relief ointment, antibiotics and ear plugs (life savers on long-haul flights and trains or if your hotel room’s AC decides to make noise at night). And if you never have to use it, all the better!
12. Separate jewelry with snack-sized zip lock bags: Zip lock bags aren’t just for packing snacks anymore, they are also amazing for sorting and packing necklaces and jewelry. To prevent tangling, give each necklace its own bag and fasten the clasp. While we’re on the subject of using plastic bags, it’s a great idea to pack a few gallon-sized zip locks to store wet clothes or certain items you would want to keep sealed.
13. Use dryer sheets to stay fresh: Put those fabric softener sheets between items of clothing in your suitcase to keep everything fresh.
Instant weather-tight luggage.
14. Bring a laundry bag: Bring a mesh laundry bag with you if you will have a chance to do laundry. If you won’t, then a bag that has the option of being compressed is great for dirty laundry. Its not like you really care if your dirty clothes are wrinkled on the way home!
15: Lock ‘em up!: If you are checking a bag or if your bags are going to be out of your control for a time, use a TSA lock to lock ‘em up. Get a combination lock that has numbers large enough to read in low light conditions and know that if TSA needs to check your luggage for some reason, they have the special key to unlock it. No, that does not guarantee that no one can find a way to get into your bag with enough time & determination, but should keep those who might decide to rummage through an unattended bag out of yours!
16. Last and the most important recommendation - Buy the best quality luggage you can afford:
Look for high quality wheels, handles and zippers! Make sure zippers have long easy to grasp pulls to help when you are in a hurry. Look for luggage with a warranty so that elements such as the wheels can be repaired. There are even bags with full warranty on the entire bag! I always vote for high quality and lightweight over any cute color or design. I want rugged & dependable for my luggage!
With all these wonderful tips and tricks, you are surely ready to jet off on your next adventure! Remembering to follow these easy and smart rules will ensure you a stress-free vacation where all you have to worry about is which cocktail you will order by the pool or what dessert to have after dinner. Safe travels from your friends at South Shore Travel! Having a plan makes all the difference!