Every seasoned traveler will tell you that packing the right gear matters. Missing critical pieces is frustrating (and expensive) while packing too much can leave you feeling like an unpaid Sherpa. Other than the universal advice to travel light, what else should you be thinking about before you pack your suitcase?
Here are some of the best tips we can offer for packing like a pro. If you plan to take everything onboard with you, check out our previous tips for packing a carry-on here.
- Start a List
Begin making a list of things you’ll need long before you’re ready to pack. Every time you think of something, write it down. Then be prepared to erase it. By the time you’re ready to haul out your suitcase, you’ll have had time to think about whether you really need to take all those extra items that seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s usually the things you throw in at the last minute that you’re least likely to use.
- Load Up Your Gadgets
If you’re going to be travelling with your phone, iPad or e-reader, make the most of them. Download movies for the plane, books for the beach, and games for the kids. If you’re travelling overseas, check with your phone carrier for tips on how to get the best rates for voice and data. Also, be sure to check out map apps and tourist information that you can access electronically to cut down on the amount of paper you’re carrying.
- Leak-Proof Your Luggage
Even a small bottle of scent or shampoo can ruin your day if it’s leaked all over your clothes. Cover the mouth of all bottles and tubes with glad-wrap before screwing the lids back on tightly. You should also carry a handful of thick zip-lock bags (freezer bags). They’ll come in handy for storing damp items and will also stop anything that might leak from spreading through the rest of your stuff.
- Know Your Weight
All airlines have weight limitations for luggage and if you exceed them you could be spending more in luggage fees than the value of what’s putting you over. A luggage scale is small, cheap, and indispensable if you tend to carry a lot of gear. It will also ensure you stay within limits if you plan to do a little shopping while you’re away.
- Be Smart About Hand Luggage
You can take one piece of luggage on board with you, so make it count. Always take enough medication for a week, just in case your luggage gets lost. Ditto for a change of underwear and a clean shirt. Bring heavier items on board if you’re having trouble staying under the weight limit for checked luggage. Just make sure any liquids are in 3 oz bottles (or smaller) and all fit into one clear zip-top bag. Prepare a “drop-bag” so that you don’t have to rummage through your pack for anything that needs to be taken out at security.
- Roll and Fill
When it comes time to finally get packing, roll your clothes. This actually helps with wrinkles and will make the best use of the space. Most suitcases have a retractable handle, so begin by filling the ridges it leaves in the bottom of your suitcase with socks, underwear and smaller items. Put non-clothing items in a separate pile and slip them between layers of rolled clothes. Place anything that may get damaged in the centre and slide your shoes around the perimeter once everything else is in.
- Don’t Double-Up
The best way to cut back on non-essential gear is to make sure that two things don’t serve the same purpose. Unless you’re a professional photographer, you don’t need a bulky camera if your phone takes decent pictures. You don’t need two red sweaters. You don’t need two pairs of sandals. If you focus on mixing-and-matching, you can cut the amount of clothing you’ll require in half. And always remember that the biggest downfall of even the most experienced traveller is the “what-if” pile. Plan for certainties, roll with the unexpected.
Luckily, your Brave Era silk travel sheet weighs less than 6 oz so you can tuck it into your carry-on and know that with everything else you’ve got to schlep around, bed bugs won’t be one of them. Happy packing!