Do you know what is my least favorite part of traveling? Well, it’s packing. Packing is such a hassle to me and sometimes I wish I could just travel without taking extra clothes etc. However, that isn’t really realistic. We need clothes, toiletries, electronics, and other items in order to make a trip fun and stress-free.
I typically don’t worry too much about what I pack because for short vacations, I tend to check all my bags so I don’t have to worry about them until we arrive at our destination. However, when traveling for an extended period of time, it becomes important to pack smart.
This means recognizing what it is you really need and what you don’t really need. Traveling through Ecuador for a month was the first time I’ve been on the road for so long. I tried to pack pretty wisely but ended up sending half of what I packed home with my husband when he left the Galapagos portion of our trip. So even when I thought I was packing smartly, I wasn’t.
Through this experience, I think I’ve gained a better understanding of what it means to pack your life into 1 bag. To be honest, it’s really two bags. I travel with a carry-on for my electronics and a backpack for my other stuff. But follow these tips and the process of packing might become a lot easier for you and definitely will become a lot more efficient.
1) Make sure you include essentials first.
When you pack, make sure you include anything you absolutely cannot live without. This should include electronics, toiletries, medicine, clothing, and sentimental items. Even with these items, you should always ask yourself if these items are necessities. Most the time, these items include socks, underwear, swimsuit, and other essential attire for me.
2) Don’t pack too many toiletries.
You can pretty much pack anything into a checked bag within reason. But you should try not to over pack toiletries. Personally, I try to make sure all my toiletries can fit in TSA-approved travel sized containers (except hair product). The reason for this is that I prefer to keep my toiletries in my carry on bag in case of emergency. Remember, you can always purchase items you may need in another country.
3) Be practical.
Try to pack clothes that can be put together in a plethora of outfits. Think: pants and shirts that are interchangeable. Pack shoes that are comfortable and can be used for a number of uses. Basically, make sure your attire is versatile because it will reduce the size of your luggage.
4) Plan for weather.
This goes with being practical. Make sure to pack clothing that can be used for all sorts of weather. This means you might have to pack a heavier coat even if you won’t need it every day. Weather can change without notice and you’ll want to be prepared.
5) Use packing cubes and vacuum seals.
For me, these are a life saver. I’m a huge advocate of packing cubes because they really help make packing easier. Not only that, but they also help you stay organized. You’ll know which cube your pants are in and which hold your shirts. It keeps you from having to dig through your luggage. Now, vacuum sealed bags are great for packing large items such as a heavy winter coat. By shrinking the coat through air suction, you reduce the amount of space your item takes in your luggage substantially.
6) Pack enough for one week only.
This is the hardest rule to follow but it can also be one of the most important. I find it helps to pack only enough clothing for about a week. As long as you’re packing smart and considering the versatility of your clothing then you shouldn’t have a problem. Remember, you can find a laundromat or have your laundry done fairly inexpensively wherever you might be. There’s no need to pack enough for a month …a week’s worth of clothing will do just fine.
7) Remember your carry-on.
I always have my carry-on bag and one bag I check. The carry-on bag can be great for all your electronics and other items you’d prefer to keep with you while you are on the plane. It can also be a really good back up bag in case you are slightly overweight with your checked luggage.
8) Think about what you’ll need before packing.
This really should be at the beginning of this list. It’s important to really consider what you might need while you travel. My advice is to make a list and separate the list out by category; clothing, toiletries, electronics, medicine, etc. Lay everything out on your bed and then start whittling it down. Reduce each type of clothing down by at least one item…sometimes maybe more. And always keep in mind that you should try to pack for about a week.
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