It’s the moment of decision… Before jetting off on a new adventure, you have to pack your life into one or two suitcases. Whatever makes it into those bags, is IT. Once those suitcases leave the house, there’s no going back. What do you take? How do you fit more in? Here are five travel packing hacks to make those decisions just a little bit easier.
Take Only What You Need
Yes, yes, we know. You just need this, and you just need that…When you’re going to be on the road, it’s tempting to want to take your entire home with you. But you know what? You really don’t need as much stuff as you think, and you’ll be glad of some extra space for bringing home the treasures you buy at your destination. To cut down your “to pack” list, stick to these essentials:
- Personal items you will need on the way
Prescription medication, your usual supplements, specialty hygiene products, and personal electronics are a must for the journey over, and they usually don’t take up all that much space. Pack liquids in small, airline-approved containers and take just enough to cover your time there—you don’t need large pump packs of moisturizer weighing you down for a one-week trip. It’s also a good idea to carry any doctor’s prescriptions with you in case you need to buy more.
What about hand soap? If you’ll be staying in hotels, soap, shampoo, and conditioner are usually provided for you. If you’re headed for a trekking adventure or will be staying in budget accommodation, taking your own would be a good idea.
- One set of comfortable clothing and shoes for each type of weather
Ok, so you might want to take your entire wardrobe, but chances are, you’ll end up buying a whole lot of clothes over there. Take at least one complete outfit for each type of weather, plus a good-quality jacket and your most comfortable pair of walking shoes. Wear the heaviest and bulkiest items on the plane to save on space in your checked-in luggage.
- Gifts and cultural items
It’s a great token of friendship to take presents for the family, friends, or hosts that will be meeting you at your destination. Choose authentic, quality items that they will be able to use, and avoid fragile items that could break on the way. Small keychains and coin purses are a good option to have on hand for new friends you meet during your stay. Before purchasing, make sure to check that the souvenirs were actually made in your country of origin!
Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’
If you’ve decided on what you really need and are sure it doesn’t take you over the weight limit, fit more clothes in your case by rolling instead of folding and stacking. Most clothes roll up nicely when you fold them once down the middle and then roll them tightly from one end to the other. Once each item is rolled up, place it tightly in a row with the other rolled clothing. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to see all of your clothes and remove one item without disturbing the rest.
Place Heavy Items Near the Wheels, Fragiles in the Middle
When you pack, think about how the contents of your suitcase will move around when the case is positioned upright. Place heavy items near the wheels so that they will be the right way up when the case is in motion. Wrap fragile items in layers of padded clothing and put them in the middle so the heavy items won’t squash them, but also so that they have some support and won’t fall down. Underwear and light tops are best placed furthest from the wheels, so you can find them quickly and without searching through your entire case.
After you’re done packing, check the weight of your suitcase on a specialty luggage scale or by weighing yourself first and then weighing yourself again with your case. It’s advisable to have your case weigh less than the limit in case your scales are off or you buy something at the airport. Unpacking and repacking your bag at the check-in desk can cause delays and mean that you end up removing items that you really wanted to take. Prevention is better than cure!
Separate Clothes, Liquids, and Shoes
This is very important: Keep liquids away from your clothes. Glass can break, lids can come loose, tubes can crack, and body butters and oils can melt. Put all of your shampoos, creams, and perfumes in smaller travel containers and keep them in a watertight bag away from your best clothes and important documents. Many suitcases come with a plastic compartment specifically for this purpose down one end of the case. If you’re taking food items that could melt—like chocolate—package these separately from your personal hygiene products.
To prevent your shoes from soiling your clothes, pack them in cotton purse bags or cloth laundry bags which you can wash later. Shower caps are a great option for dirty shoes if cloth bags aren’t available.
Use a Checkpoint-Friendly Laptop Bag
Our final hack is a brilliant product that few people know about. Transport your laptop and accessories in a checkpoint-friendly laptop bag and save valuable time in transit.
These handy bags have dedicated pockets for laptops and accessories and open up flat to go through the X-ray machine. This not only keeps the laptop safe from scratches and damage in the tray, but it also helps to prevent laptop loss and theft. When transporting cables, be sure to roll them up correctly rather than simply stuffing them into the bag.
Get Inspired for Your Next Trip
Now that you’re a packing pro, it’s time to start thinking about your next trip! If you’re looking for travel inspiration and ideas, be sure to check out 10 Wellness Vacations That Will Improve Your Health and What to Do on a Layover in Top Summer Destinations.