Packing for a trip can be a chore. Trying to narrow down an entire wardrobe into a small little bag seems overwhelming, and when you can't narrow it down, it can get expensive with baggage fees. You always feel like you're forgetting something... and sometimes you do forget something. Getting through TSA or sitting in front of a kicker is stressful enough- don't let the stress hit you before you've even left your house. Here are several tips that will make packing smoother.
1. Pack in Advance
Although this should go without saying, we have to say it. Pack ahead of your trip instead of the night before or the day you're leaving. You’re bound to forget something or take too much of what you don’t need when you procrastinate. This way, you can double check your luggage the night before for any last minute items instead of scrambling.
2. Pack Items That Can Be Worn More Than Once
If you’re going to a warm place for five days, what are the chances you’ll need five different pairs of flat sandals? Bring one pair of staple shoes that fit your trip (gym shoes if you're doing a lot of walking, sandals if you're hanging out at the beach all day, boots if you're braving the cold) and one or two other pairs of shoes that are more special occasion. You also need to wear a pair of shoes to the airport, so make those your staple pair and you'll save room in your bag. This same principle goes for accessories, sweaters, sweatshirts, and jeans.
3. Plan Your Outfits
You should already know how many days and nights you’ll be out of town. Chances are, you also have a set schedule of places to visit and what type of events you’ll be attending. Make a conscious decision to plan your outfit for every last day from morning to night, not forgetting the days you’ll be traveling. This way, you're not throwing in random "what-if" items nor are you buying some overpriced item at a tourist trap.
4. Organize Your Stuff
Blindly throwing your clothes and toiletries in your suitcase is a recipe for disaster. You have no idea what's in your bag, where it is, and it risks the possibility of spillage. Lay out outfits for each day on your bed or floor so you can visualize what exactly you're packing. This helps cut down on extra items because you know what you're wearing each day. Then roll your clothes to make them fit better in your suitcase. Pack toiletries in a zip-able bag so nothing gets out. Make sure to tighten the lids of any liquids before you toss them in the bag.
5. Make Your Carry-On Your Best Friend
Don't just throw your laptop, wallet, and a magazine into your carry-on and call it a day. Use you carry-on to pack an extra outfit and anything you can't live 24 hours without in case your flight is delayed or canceled or the airline loses your bag. Since most airlines these days charge for checked baggage, pack everything you need in the carry-on and save yourself some money.
6. Don't Be Clueless About TSA
One of the worst parts of traveling is going through security. Don't be the person who makes it even worse by not knowing what to do. Make sure you have no liquids over 3oz. in your carry-on, don't wear a belt, and wear shoes that are easy to remove. It's also a good idea to either leave your laptop at home or keep it out of a case, because laptops and large electronics have to be taken out of your bag and put in a bin by themselves. Check the TSA website before you fly for specific rules.
7. Invest in Duplicates
These days, it seems like the end of the world when your phone dies and you have no way to charge it. Don't let this happen to you! Invest in a second charger that you carry in your purse or carry-on, and throw the other one in your suitcase. This isn't just a good travel tip- it's a good idea for every day. You never know when you'll be stuck without your cell and you're stuck trying to find a payphone...the horror. It's also a good idea to have duplicates of other important things like contacts or medicine.
8. Bring Extra Underwear
If you're stuck at your destination because of a flight delay or cancelation or you've decided you need one more day before you return to work, it's always a good idea to pack extra underwear. You can re-wear pants and shirts, but re-wearing underwear is gross and unhygienic. Plus, they don't take up that much room.
Traveling and exploring the world should be fun, NOT stressful! Have fun and don't let packing set your excitement back!