You have bought your flight tickets, received your visa, booked your hotels, and are ready to go on another exciting travel adventure. But there is one more thing remaining – packing your bags! Packing can be a pretty stressful activity for many. With airlines reducing luggage allowance almost every year or two, travelers need to get smart with how they pack their bags. By putting a little thought into what to pack and using limited suitcase space efficiently, you can pack your bags in no time and stay within baggage allowance limits. Here are some of the most popular tips that can help you pack smart:
Take less stuff with you
When going to a new location, human psychology makes us want more things than we actually need. Our mind starts to think about various “what if….” scenarios. But not every single one of those scenarios actually happen. So, gather all the stuff that you THINK you need, and then aim to cut it down by a third or even by half! You do not need to stuff in a sweater, a jacket, a shawl and a blanket. Instead take just a jacket and a thick full sleeve shirt, or only a full sleeve shirt and a shawl. The shawl can double up as a blanket or a scarf, while a jacket can be used on the plane or during a cold evening. Think multipurpose use from a single item.
Use every inch of space
Stuff your socks in your shoes, or in your flipflops. Handkerchiefs and underwear can be folded, while clothes can be rolled. You can also put folded handkerchiefs inside pant pockets or stuff small items inside bra cups (for ladies). Stick ear buds or small accessories in your shades’ case. Do not take boxes if you do not need them, as they tend to create unused pockets of space. Instead, use plastic or cloth bags. Use every bit of available space. For cosmetics and jewellery, this post shows some great tips to save space. And remember to leave some empty space for any shopping that you might indulge in.
Lighten your bags by wearing the heaviest items
This is one of my favorites when traveling to colder locations. Heavy jackets are quite heavy and eat up a lot of space. Hence, wear the jacket on the plane. You can always remove it and ask the flight attendant to store it for you, or you can leave it on your seat. Similarly, jeans tend to be quite heavy. So wear them on your flight. Generally, cotton clothes are lighter than other types of clothing.
Chuck the pouch/purse and use a zip-lock bag instead
Pouches and purses, like boxes, create unused space. Instead, pack your toothbrush and other toiletries in a zip-lock bag. Travel security regulations also require liquids and gels to be kept in a zip lock bag, so they can be pulled out during security checks. Also, take a laundry bag or a plastic bag to put soiled/dirty clothes.
Hotels provide a few essentials
If you are staying in a hotel, they almost certainly will provide you with a towel. So, you do not need to take one. Most hotel receptions also provide small sample-sized toothpaste, shower gel and shampoo – you just have to ask the front desk for them. With today’s age of email and internet, you can always check with your hotel/accommodation on what toiletries/services they provide.
What about my electronics?
Take a multi-socket power strip. This will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. This is really important in today’s technology intensive age because many hotel rooms might have only one or two free sockets. The rest might already be used to plug tv/fridge/etc. Also, carry a tablet or a smartphone instead of a laptop. Not only are they lighter, but they can do most things that a laptop would do. Plus, you can stick your tablet in the hand baggage easily, while a laptop might need a separate bag. I have personally seen people forced to check-in “excessive” bags at boarding gates. Also, certain flights do not allow two pieces of hand luggauge.
Split your packing (couples)
If you are traveling as a couple, then consider packing half your stuff in your partner’s bag, while your partner can pack some of their stuff in your bag. This will ensure that neither one of you is stuck in case one of the two bags gets lost or misplaced. As the old saying goes “do not put all your eggs in one basket”.
If you do not like packing and unpacking repeatedly while you are traveling, then consider creating compartments while packing. You can create separate compartments or cubes, and pack items for each day or each city (if you are visiting multiple cities) in that compartment. Alternatively, you can create layers of clothes, whereby the stuff that goes to the bottom is for the very last day of your travel, and the stuff on top is for the first day.
Pack some ear buds, a face mask and a sleep mask
You will really appreciate this, especially if you ever need them. Traveling to a new/unknown destination can bring unexpected surprises. Some of them could affect your sleep and comfort. There might be a pub or dance club right outside your hotel room, or perhaps you might be walking all day on noisy and chaotic streets. A couple of ear buds might come in handy. The same goes for a sleep mask. Additionally, a face mask can save you from all the dust and air pollution. You never know when you will need these things, so it may be better to pack them in.
And last but not least……
Make photocopies of important documents
Before you go, make a photocopy of your important documents like passport and government issued ID. Basically, do this for every document that you plan to physically carry with you while traveling. Leave the photocopy of these documents at home, at a place where someone can be guided to find them – in case of an emergency. Alternatively, you can also scan and upload these documents on the cloud so that they can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Also, print a sheet of paper with your name and mailing address, and put the sheet in your check-in bag. That way, if your bag gets lost, then it can help the flight personnel find its rightful owner quickly.