I believe there are two main types of packers; those that throw everything into a bag at the last minute, and those (of us) that like to plan and pack with care and in an organized fashion. As I am packing on a fairly regular basis (at least once a month), let me share the basic information that will help demystify the process and help you pack like a pro.
A few years back the airlines realized that they could generate a lot of extra revenue by charging to check bags. This policy change led to many people attempting to carry all their life belongings onto the airplane and then cram their bag into the tiny overhead bins.
However, not all airlines are this money grabbing. I applaud Southwest for their checked bag policy and also for their ease at changing bookings without ridiculous penalty fees. If you fly with the same handful of airlines, then keep up to date with their policies by checking on their website.
While I do always try to master the carryon game (due to the increased speed of exit from the airport and fear of the airline loosing my bag) there are occasions when this is not practical. For example, when I do back to back long haul flights I find it easier to check my bag so that I do not have to claim the bag during the connection.
If you are going to check your bag then make sure it doesn’t look exactly like the many thousands of others that will be tumbling down the conveyor belt at your destination. Add a colorful strap, ribbons, or unusual ties to the handles of your bags. On a recent trip I noticed a family that had covered their suitcases with colorful stickers in matching colored dots, quite a talking point as their bags were quickly identified once on the luggage belt.
If you plan to be carryon then select a bag that is the appropriate size (22 in long, 14 in wide and 9 in deep). But equally as important, make sure the bag is lightweight when it’s empty. I made the fatal error a few years back of purchasing a carryon bag that was so stylish I ignored the fact that even empty it weighed a ton so as soon as I started filling it I could barely lift it off the floor!
There seems to be some law of nature that says that whatever bag size you choose you will fill it. How many times have you come home from a vacation and realised that you did not use half of the clothes you took? When I visited the Maldives last year I took a variety of shoes to go with my various ‘evening’ outfits and didn’t wear a single pair as everyone was barefoot all the time!
Have a packing game plan
Put some thought into what items you will need at your destination. How many days are you going for? Will you need work and/or casual outfits? What will the weather be like at your destination?
Lay out all the items you intend to pack on a table then look at them again and weed out the unnecessary duplicates. Do you really need 5 pairs of shoes for 5 days? Mix and match outfits or stay with a colour theme (love timeless black and white) I also like items that do double duty; a pashmina can keep you warm on the plane or be used as a wrap or a cover-up at a resort.
Now it’s time to get out that packing checklist, there are numerous lists available online, or visit the Container Store travel section as they have a useful Pack This! checklist that you can tear off a page for each trip. Use this list to avoid forgetting something obvious. You might laugh, but on a recent vacation my husband did his own packing and when we got to the destination he realized he had forgotten to pack any pants (that’s knickers to my British friends)
Sorry for sharing too much David. Additionally, my packing lists have come in really handy when you hear the dreaded words ‘we seem to have misplaced your bag, can you tell me what is in it’ I astounded the man in Mumbai when I produced my list and explained exactly what the contents of my bag looked like.
There is an ongoing debate as to the virtues of rolling your clothes or laying them flat in your case. Personally I do a mixture of both, but I also use a variety of different sized packing cubes and compression bags. I group certain items; underwear, workout clothes, socks, swimwear etc and roll them to fill out the cubes.
Shoes can be filled with items such as socks to save space and to help them keep their shape. I also like to put shoes into their own bags so that they do not get dirt on any other items. Ziplocs, grocery store plastic bags, or free hotel shower caps work really well for this. Pack like a pro tip -if you suffer a little from smelly feet (you know who you are) then take a few dryer sheets and dot them around your bag.
Scale down your toiletries, do you really need that value sized pack of shampoo? Don’t waste your money by buying a travel size at a vastly inflated price, instead invest in a few small travel bottles and decant your lotions and potions for each trip. Remember that most resorts will supply you with the basics so unless you must have your own particular brand then leave them behind. I discovered my favorite soap (L’octaine) when we stayed at a hotel in Hawaii. Unless you are going to some remote resort far from civilization, chances are you will be able to buy what you have forgotten.
If you have a particularly bulky item that you just have to take such as boots or a big coat, then consider wearing it to travel in, then it doesn’t take up any space!
Keep your valuables with you
Airlines specify that your carryon can consist of one bag and one personal item (ie purse, backpack) I always keep my valuables in my purse (personal item) so that if for whatever reason I am forced to check my other bag then I have the most important items with me.
I will address the issue of what you should keep in your hand luggage and why with more detail in a future post but the basics are: passport, money, jewelry, and technology (ie phones, kindle).
If you follow these few simple tips, your packing will become much more streamlined, quicker, and efficient and you to can pack like a pro. Being prepared will lead to a better travel experience. What is your best travel-packing tip?
Happy packing 🙂