11 Aug Packing Tips: A Guide to Simplify Your Packing Process
One of the only hard parts of traveling is deciding what to bring with you. It’s a process most hate and procrastinate until the last minute, traveling with more stuff than they ever intended to bring and somehow missing some absolutely necessary item that got left behind. Here is a guide to packing light and packing right.
1. TRAVEL LIGHT
We often think we need things we don’t. At the time, you look at the pile of things going into the suitcase or pack and think to yourself – of course I’ll need that – but when you’re lugging it around you might feel differently. But the answer is simple! Limit the amount of things you bring. Use multi-use items – like a sarong that doubles as a towel or pillow, clothes you can re-wear and match with each other, and multi-tools.
At least in American culture we’ve been taught that you wear something once and then you wash it, but I’m here to tell you …that’s completely unnecessary! Unless you are trekking through the jungle all day or spilled a glass of wine on it, just air it out and re-wear. If needed (because you trekked through the jungle), give it a rinse and soap in the sink, and hang it up to air dry in the bathroom.
2. CONSIDER YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Different places require different clothing and equipment. What is the purpose of your trip? Let this drive your packing decisions. Planning to hike or do lots of outdoor activities? Don’t bother with a blow dryer. Planning to soak up all the nightlife has to offer? Don’t bother with your workout apparel (unless you’re reeeeeeeally motivated.) Ultimately, simplify based on the main objective of your trip.
Location matters. Show respect for the place you’re traveling by learning its customs and what is generally considered acceptable. Some places frown on exposed tummies while others frown on uncovered hair. Knowing what’s appropriate and demonstrating it is a quick way to make friends in a new place.
Season and Weather. Most of us check the weather when packing, though it may be misleading, if there is a weather system passing through. Cross-check the current weather with the general climate of the region from the same season. That gives you a more comprehensive understanding of the weather you’re likely to encounter.
3. SUITCASE WOES
What kind of suitcase you choose depends on all of the aforementioned factors and many more. What kind of trip is it? Will you be camping? If not, will the city have paved sidewalks? Will you change destinations or hotels during your trip? What kind of transportation will you use? The main question is pack vs. suitcase. They both have their benefits.
Packs are easily (or not so easily) carried on your back. Compression straps allow you to reduce a large quantity of items, making it ideal for the outdoors, camping or longer trips. Practicing good weight distribution can make all the difference in an enjoyable of non-enjoyable pack experience. Multiple entrances allow for easy access to items without emptying it out and small compartments make it easy to organize. Often the head of the pack slides off and can be used as a day pack while leaving the main pack behind.
Suitcases, especially small weekend ones, can be a perfect fit for a jaunt through a fast-paced city. Getting on and off public transportation like the metro, buses or cable cars can be simplified by using a smaller, lighter suitcase with wheels. Maneuvering down city streets with foot traffic is also made easier with a suitcase.
4. PACK SMART
Organization is king. Knowing what you need to pack and evaluating the quantity of the necessary items is a sure-fire way to pack smart. Using mini-bags to separate relevant items like underwear or toiletries simplifies living out of a suitcase (or pack). Roll your clothes to fill and maximize the space. And consciously distribute the weight in the bag you choose, making it as easy to manage as possible.
5. MAKE A CHECKLIST
So, initially you make these, but after a few trips you’ll have a template that will have many permanent items: toothbrush, phone charger, camera charger, knife, headlamp, passport, etc. These are often the items that are easy to forget, the last things you use before you leave the house or just easy things to overlook. When packing lay it all out and make note of the items you’re still going to use, leaving yourself a little note to be sure what to grab on the way out of the door.
What are your favorite travel packing techniques? Tell me about them below!