How to pack (Tips & tricks)
After a series of posts in Croatian, it was high time I wrote one in English again. Since I will be flying to the US next week, I figured I could write about how to pack, share my routine and give some useful tips and tricks I have picked up along the way. If you’re running short on time and came here only for a quick tip, here it is: The lighter, the better.
People usually say: “Just look at the flight attendants, they only have carry-on luggage.” While this statement is true, it is misleading. Flight attendants usually just spend the night where they are going and fly back home the next day. Chances are you are gonna stay at least a couple of days where you are going and require more than one change of underwear and a uniform. Still, do pack light.
How to pack depends on your trip!
Packing depends heavily on what kind of trip you are going on and how long you will be staying. Think about your destination. Check what the weather is going to be like where you’re going.
If you are traveling with a friend, consider sharing items. You do not need three tooth pastes in the room. Things like shampoos, body lotions and hair dryers are bulky and heavy. Leave them at home if you can, if you can not, use small containers and share with your friends or coworkers. Most hotels and hostels have hair dryers anyways, if not in the room, then they can be borrowed from the reception for free or for a small fee.
Plan your outfits.
This is the part that I hate the most, since I do not usually plan my outfit. However, this is a luxury you can not afford when you’re traveling. Think about what you’re going to do and where you will be going and pack accordingly.
I usually take one extra item of these: underwear, socks, shirts. You never know when you’re going to spill red wine on yourself or if you’ll get soaking wet. Other than that, stick with your plan.
No make-up or jewelry (or very little).
Ok, girls, breathe. Realize that you do not need ten shades of eye-shadows, three different colours of eye-liners and new earrings to match every outfit. One of my noob problems was packing more make-up and jewelry than I normally use, thinking I would use it on my trips/during the summer. I never did.
If you can not do without these, limit yourself! Foundation or powder, mascara and small earrings or rings you wear every day (like a wedding band) are fine. But, what you wear every day is flashy, like big engagement rings or lots of bracelets, leave them at home. You might get mugged because the local criminals will be expecting you to have a lot of cash on you, even if you don’t. You do not want to attract attention as a tourist.
As much as it pains me to say this, books are your enemy when you’re traveling. They are heavy and they take a lot of space. If you love reading and can not go without it, bring only one book and make it a paperback. Maybe something second-hand, so you can just leave it when you’re done with it?
If you are an avid reader and travel often, I recommend buying an e-reader. I have an old model of Sony eReader, but if I were buying one now, I would probably go with a Kindle Paperlight. Any e-reader you choose will be small, light and you will be able to store hundreds of books on it.
Electronics: personal preference.
Some people advise not to bring any, as they require charging, cables, care and etc. As you can see from my previous point, I am not one of them. In fact, I bring a lot of electronics with me. My rule is: Separate everything.
I might listen to music on my iPhone while walking from school to home, but I will not do it when traveling. On long plane rides (or two, three…), I use specific items for their purposes: laptop for movies, iPod for music, ereader for books and my phone for calls. I do not want to drain the battery with these uses. If you have a camera, you might want it to take nice pictures of your vacation.
This is really up to you and, again, depends on the trip. If you are traveling with people and expect a lot of sight seeing, you might wanna skip movies and music. There’s time for that at home. Since I spend the whole day flying and waiting at airports, these are a life-saver. Well, sanity-savers and time-killers.
Packing tips and tricks
I usually put everything I plan to bring with me on my bed. That way, I can see clearly how many items and I am taking. That usually results in putting a couple of shirts back in my closet.
Make sure you think about every item you are bringing. Ask yourself if it’s worth carrying an item all the way to your destination. You might rather buy something and give it away later, than take it with you from home.
Now that you have everything you need and you are happy with it, you need to put it in your luggage.
Use only carry-on luggage if you can.
If you can squeeze your belongings into a bag that fits in your over-head compartment, that is great! You will skip the waiting in lines and (sometimes) additional fees for checking your bag in. Remember, you can bring 1 carry-one + 1 personal item on most flights for free. That personal item can be a laptop bag, female purse, or – my favourite – a back-pack.
Always take one change of clothes in your carry-on.
If you’ve never had your bags lots or delayed, you were simply lucky. Fly around long enough, and it is bound to happen. I learned that lesson the hard way and had to go shopping for items. My husband had to wear my clothes around the city this summer because he did not follow this rule. Luckily, I do not dress very girly and he pulled of my army-green shorts as if they were his own.
Roll your clothes, do not fold it!
I swear to God, rolling will help you fit more items in your bag than traditional folding will. I do not know why it is, but apparently, clothes uses less volume when rolled. Also, if you roll tightly and pack neatly, items usually do not require ironing after being unpack. That depends on the material though, so also try to pack as many wrinkle free items as you can.
Always check the essentials!
There are some items you should always have in your bags. Make sure you check and double check if you have the following:
- documents (IDs, passport, driver’s licence, etc.)
- money (cash, credit or debit cards)
- cell phone
- chargers for electronics (phone, laptop, camera, etc.)
- your trip itinerary (printed on paper as electronics can fail)
- any reservations you might have made (hotel, buses, trains – also printed)
Everything else can be easily replaced or bought.
I skipped a few basic things here to keep this post readable. I figure you already separate your shoes from your clothes by placing them in plastic bags so you don’t get your clothes dirty. Also, I do hope you do not carry stilettos to a hiking trip through the Alps just because you plan to go out one night. I also figure you know what not to bring on a plane, so if you are flying, think about that as well.
As you start packing more often, this will become easier. People usually carry less and less items with them with every trip. You should also save some room in your bag if you plan to go shopping.
I hope this was useful! If you have any tips of your own, I would love to read them in the comments. If not, have a safe trip and enjoy it!