These expert packing tips will have you choosing the best luggage, packing for more than one climate, keeping your bag as light as possible, and more!
There is an art to efficiently packing a suitcase. Personally, after years of travel wins and mishaps, I’ve nailed down a routine and have discovered the best packing techniques for all scenarios.
All of this trial and error has taught me how to deal with, and avoid, broken luggage, disorganized compartments, and accidentally leaving key items at home. My years on the road have also taught me how to travel super light; both by going carry-on only and by packing just the essentials.
Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs To Know – How To Pack Like a Pro
Choosing Your Bag
The first step in packing like a pro is to choose the perfect bag. What kind of luggage to bring is a decision that depends not only on the length of your trip but also the type of trip. For example, business travelers might prefer a small, sleek bag that they can easily shove into a carry-on compartment, while long-term travelers might go for a large, heavy-duty backpack.
Also, if you’re someone who tends to overpack or who likes to buy souvenirs, then I suggest purchasing either a soft shell bag or a hard shell with expandable features. Conversely, if you want to ensure that your belongings stay safe and that you stick to a small number of items, then a standard hard shell is the way to go.
Read More About Choosing The Perfect Bag:
Always Start With a Packing List
No matter where you’re headed, starting your packing with an informed list is a great way to keep yourself organized. Every destination and situation requires a unique packing job, and using lists will make sure you pack destination-specific items that you might not have otherwise thought to bring. Even after all my travel experience, I still use packing lists for peace of mind.
Check Out Some of Our Packing Lists:
Tips for Packing Light
Choose a Smaller Bag
The key to packing as light as possible is to limit your space. Choosing a smaller bag will not only ensure you have less stuff to keep track of, but it will also help keep the luggage weight to a minimum.
Buy a Travel Scale
If you tend to go overboard with weight restrictions, then I highly recommend a cheap travel scale. I can’t tell you how many times having a scale with me has saved me from overweight baggage fees.
Wear Your Heaviest Items
If you’re concerned about overweight baggage fees then put on your heaviest bulky items for the plane ride. Planes tend to be chilly anyway, so wear your sweaters and bulky shoes.
Don’t Pack Full-Sized Toiletries
Unless you’re headed on a multi-month long trip, chances are you won’t use the bulk of your toiletries. Instead of bringing them along (and risking a leak in your bag), put your shampoo, conditioner, and body wash into smaller, reusable containers (we love these ones).
Alternatively, try out the solid form of your favorite products. Not only will bringing along solid shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste save you from accidental spills, they’ll last you a lot longer as well.
I should also note that if you’re traveling through Europe or the United Kingdom with a carry-on only, make sure you have their specific ziplock bag sizing for liquids. Many airports in Europe can be very strict and you don’t want to end up throwing away your favorite (and often expensive) hair care and lotion items.
Choose a Color Theme
If you want to get high versatility with a limited amount of clothing, then I suggest picking a color palette and only bringing clothes in that theme. This way, you can mix and match your clothing without worrying about the colors clashing.
Read More About Packing Light:
How to Pack for 2 (Or More) Climates in One Bag
Be Strategic with Layers
Layers will be your best friend when packing for more than one climate. Make sure to bring tank-tops, t-shirts, light cardigans, and leggings or tights that you can easily take off or layer on when the climate changes.
If you’ll be going from a warm climate to a cold one, then, if possible, I’d suggest leaving the bulky sweaters at home. Sticking to light, yet warm, fabrics (such as thermals) will help you save space in your bag and will give you more outfit options. Additionally, if you need to bring a warm winter jacket on your trip, try to find one that is packable and that compresses down to a small size.
Bring Versatile Items
In keeping your item list to a minimum, it’s smart to pack things that can be used in more than one scenario. For example, bring a scarf along with you that can act as a neck warmer, light shawl, blanket, or accessory.
Additionally, take stock of the shoes you plan on wearing. Do you have a pair that will take you from a warmer climate straight into a colder one? If you do, then bring those, but if not, then I suggest packing one pair for the warmer climate, and one for the colder.
Packing In Advance
Every time I pack for a trip, I start thinking about my packing list about a week in advance. Then, I take out my bag, and over the week leading up to my trip, I slowly put things in it that I know I don’t want to leave behind. That said, I do the final clothing pack in the final two days before my departure.
If it’s a longer trip, or if you know that there are things you don’t want to forget to bring, then packing a few days ahead of time is the way to go.
How to Keep Your Luggage Organized
Use Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are a total suitcase organization game changer. They compartmentalize all your clothes into their own spaces, keeping your items separate and easy to find.
Roll Your Clothes
Within the packing cubes, I highly recommend rolling, instead of folding, your clothes. Rolling your clothes makes finding a specific item a breeze and cuts down on space.
Keep Toiletries Within Reach
Whenever I take a larger bag on a trip, I always make sure to keep my toiletry bag on top and within easy reach. Doing this gives me easy access to the items that will help me feel refreshed after a long flight, such as my toothbrush and cleanser.
Have a Bag for Laundry
Is there anything worse than having your dirty clothes rolling around with your clean ones in your luggage? Having a designated laundry bag (this inexpensive packing cube kit comes with a laundry bag) is essential in keeping your clean clothes fresh, and knowing where your dirty ones are when it comes time for laundry day.
Essential Items I Bring On Every Trip
Toiletries: Apart from the usual suspects, I always make sure to travel with antibacterial wipes (especially for on the plane), a tube of ultra-hydrating lotion, sunscreen and lip balm, and activated charcoal tablets.
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