Ten tips for packing for trips

NOV 24, 2017 AT 07:52 AM


One of the worst things that can happen to you if you are travelling is to discover that you forgot an essential item, leaving you scrambling to discover the nearest store in your destination. The other side – you pack too much in your bag(s), and you become burdened with heavy bags to tow, in addition to looking disorganized and, if you are travelling by plane, paying an arm and a leg for airline baggage fees.

Things packed for holiday

Packing for trips is usually one of the worst experiences ever, because:

You have to figure out how to make your suitcase fit the weight limits – especially if on your trip, you purchase so many souvenirs, that your suitcase ends up looking like you are permanently moving away from home. Not to mention, annoying airport security checks.

Feeling the need to pack for every situation you conceive in your mind – for example, you think you can receive an invite to a fancy dinner, so you may pack a dress or suit you have never worn in your life. 

You have to fit your makeup and jewelry in one pouch – If you are a woman, you have no idea how you will manage with a small supply of cosmetics. You think to yourself how there should be an allowance for shampoo and hair products.

The realization that you need to do laundry – before you pack, you suddenly remember you have dirty laundry, but you also resign yourself to the fact that you will not do it after all.

Different outfits for every day – such a stressful activity! You also know that you will not stick to the clothing choices you just made.

What are you supposed to do when packing then? Here are some very important but often overlooked tactics to ensure you do not fall into the trap of “too little, too much” syndrome that afflicts many inexperienced travelers.

Do not forget lists!

Lists for holiday

Rule number one: Never forget to make a list! This is where last-minute packing falls short. Without a list, you will always forget important items, only to discover when you arrived at your destination or along the way, that you left something. When you are setting out on a journey, start packing weeks or days before the trip, and begin budgeting for items you will need in advance.

Do not fold, and keep clothes inside out

Suitcase full of things

If you are an experienced traveler, you know that there are trips, which last as long as a month, yet you must stuff all your clothes and valuables into a pack that is the size of a wine box package. Hikers and backpackers know this very well, and they all agree that rolling is superior method of stuffing clothes as compared to folding, because clothes rolled tightly tend to occupy less space than folded clothes, and they force you to utilize the entire space in the bag. The other advantage is that there are less chances of folds forming wrinkles. One of the most important hacks: you can easily save space when packing your bras and inner wear by stacking them on top of each other.

A useful tip for light colored clothes: to stop creases before they form, arrange your whites and pastels inside out to protect them from dirt that may enter your bag.

Use personal items wisely

For airlines, it is standard procedure to allow travelers to bring a carry-on bag and one personal item aboard the plane. Each airline has its own requirements for the personal item’s size, though you can carry items like laptop bags, backpack or purses on the plane.

The advice here is, understand your personal item allowance. If you need some items like your laptop, do not just carry a tiny purse – bring a larger bag that you can fit easily under your seat but still provides you with extra storage space. This will be helpful when you need to keep all the things you want on hand while on your flight within your arms’ reach.

Know the airline baggage-free policy

Ah, the dreaded airline baggage fees. So many airlines introduce “basic economy” fares, which are only the most basic service of transporting you from place to place. Your seat assignment, itinerary charges and cancellations, on-board amenities, and room for your carry-on bag cost extra money. 

At the airport

If you are travelling by air, one of the first things you should always find out is their baggage-free policy. In this internet age, you have no excuse to be ignorant of such information. During international journeys, you can be permitted to carry a big bag, but for domestic flights, it may be a different story.

Note that before you begin packing, study your airline’s website and understand the baggage policy. You can even do this before you buy the plane ticket, especially if you want to bring on a checked bag or two.

Before leaving home, one of the best secret weapons to use: weigh your bags before going to the airport – avoid incidents of getting the shock of your life by being charged unnecessary baggage fees. Purchase some luggage scales and weigh your bags on both legs of your travels to see if you are close to the weight limits. If you are very close to the limit, you can quickly offload some of your heavier items or reduce what you are packing altogether.

Wash clothes while on the road

If you are staying in rentals or hotels, one of the best things of staying there is the laundry facilities. Take advantage of this opportunity and wash a handful of outfits, especially if you are going on long trips.

Washing clothes

If you sleep at a hotel, find out if they have laundry services, as well how much they cost. If you are going to travel in cruise ships for instance, you can just wash your clothes in the sink and hang them out to dry – this is because they tend to bill you high fees for laundry services. Make sure to carry a travel size packet of detergent and a sink stopper. A useful hack is buying portable hanging lines from travel-supply shops, which attach to showers through suction cups.


This encompasses two things – pack in layers and wear layers. Your wardrobe for on the road should contain plenty of layers, which will assist you to be comfortable and stylish through many changes in climate. Second, the clothes should be neatly layered for easy identification. The TSA recommends to arrange your items in layers so that when security agents scrutinize your bag, they get a clear idea of the items you are carrying. This is a major win – the faster you get through security checks, the faster you move.

Another hack you can use is to pack the heaviest items close to the wheels of your suitcase or bag. This can be especially helpful when dealing with rolling luggage, when you have to consider the number of your items that can respond easily to movement. Keeping the heavy items close to the wheels ensures that there is even spreading of weight through your suitcase.

The importance of dual-purpose clothes

For dual-purpose garments, it means you have less items to pack. These can include things like pants that you fold into shorts, or jackets that are also travel pillows, which reduce your bag weight and baggage fees.

Do not pack essential items in checked bags!

Checked bags in planes

One of the worst mistakes you can commit is to keep the essential and valuable belongings in your checked luggage instead of your carry-on bag. Things like identification cards, passports, money, electronics like phones and laptops, credit cards and jewelry should always be with you on the plane. We are not required to explain why you need your passport and wallet on you, but in case loss or theft of your luggage happens, you will surely regret keeping your insanely expensive Rolex watch in that checked bag.

Packing more tops than bottoms

Let us face the truth: there are more chances you will re-wear a pair of bottoms than a top. To avoid over packing, stick to the golden rule of thumb: packing two different tops – this can include sweaters and blouses or t-shirts – for every bottom you wear – can be shorts, pants or skirts. As far as bottoms go, always pack dark and light wash denim.

Take advantage of packing aids

Use packing aids to compress your clothes into a tiny, vacuum packed, tight bundle that occupies minimum suitcase space. Some good aids include packing envelopes and packing aids such as Eagle Creek Compression Sacks. You can even go a step further and use color-coded or labelled packing cubes that makes you feel like an organized human being.

Packing aids

Whether you are a frequent traveler or a once-in the year voyager, these packing hacks will change the way you approach stacking your stuff, and you never have to go through the negative and embarrassing incidents again.