I have NEVER met anyone who enjoyed carrying around 100lbs suitcases for a trip…..the goal is to bring what you need, not to bring your entire house with you.
That, of course, is easier said than done. Now that I’m married, packing smart has never been more essential, as I have to plan for the luggage of two people.
Lucky for you, I learned a bunch of cool tricks to make packing more efficient. So enjoy this ultimate packing guide…. from me, to you. 🙂
Give Yourself Enough Time to Plan
First and foremost, you shouldn’t schedule a trip that’s only a few days away unless it’s for an emergency.
You can only fully enjoy your trip if you’re well-prepared. Ideally, you may want to have the trip scheduled at least a week or two ahead. This way, you can easily plan and pack everything you need without making any errors due to rushing things.
During the planning phase, check what kind of clothes you’ll need. If you’re going to attend a business-related event or a special gathering, make sure to bring something formal, or versatile. You can also check the weather conditions ahead of the trip and filter your clothes accordingly.
The planning phase can also be used to scout the area you’re visiting for local stores or even laundry shops. These can help you further reduce the amount stuff you need to take with yourself.
Pick a Suitcase That Suits You
Before you even think about traveling, you will need to have a suitcase at your side.
Keep in mind that this suitcase isn’t going to be for one outing, you will most likely use it whenever you go on big trips and such.
There are several luggage types to choose from and each has its own merits. Most of these types have both soft-side and hard-side variants. Soft-side luggage are most often chosen for their flexibility, while hard-sided ones are selected for their sturdiness.
The most common and most versatile bag, the wheeled suitcase is able to carry all sorts of essentials and several days worth of clothing within its storage space. It’s very easy to travel around with a quality wheeled suitcase as it rolls perfectly on most surfaces.
If you’re planning on packing light, then a carry-on luggage is ideal for you. It’s basically a wheeled suitcase but it’s designed to be placed in a plane’s compartment. This does away with the need to check your luggage.
Wheeled Duffel Bag
This type of luggage is both durable and spacious. Perfect for travelers on trips that include a lot of walking. The wheels of these bags are designed to go over almost any surface without getting damaged.
If you pack them light enough, these bags can also be carried onto the plane.
Backpacks (Classic and Wheeled)
The quintessential travel companions, these versatile bags range from small day packs to towering hiking bags with their own scaffolding.
Most standard backpacks are carry-on size though, and their shoulder straps mean easy traversal in the harshest environments. All you need to look out for is your back health, so you shouldn’t pack them to be too heavy.
You can buy wheeled backpacks as well, which combine the best of both suitcase and backpack worlds.
There may be some cases where you will need to bring more than one bag. Now, both bags need not be checked in. If you want, you can bring a backpack and one wheeled luggage for example.
This way, you can carry one into the plane while checking in the other. Backpacks can also be placed on top of wheeled luggage so they are pretty convenient when moving around.
Making a List and Checking It Twice
Before you begin packing, you need to organize yourself by making a list of all the things you need. This – among many things – guarantees that you don’t over-pack, as you have to consider where you’re going and how long you’re going to be there.
If you’re heading to a winter wonderland, make sure to jot down jackets on your list. If you’re staying for five days, make sure to bring enough clothes for six, just in case of an emergency.
In your list, make sure you add in essentials such as toiletries, chargers, power banks. Don’t forget your adapters if you’re traveling overseas. You should also consider bringing other useful items such as resealable bags or even a mini sewing kit.
Now comes the crucial part: actually packing your stuff.
Inexperienced travelers simply shove their clothes and essentials into their bags. The thing is, if you pack efficiently, it will be like you’re carrying more with less.
There are a couple of ways to pack a suitcase, but there are two major schools of thought: rolling and folding.
The rolling method is great for utilizing space. If you want to bring more clothes, then this is the ideal method for you.
This method cuts down on the creases that might happen when clothes are folded but it does make some items wrinkled. It works well with socks, synthetic t-shirts, pajamas, and sweaters.
Folding is the better option if you want your clothes to become neat once they are unpacked. If you’re going to a formal event, then this is probably the method for you.
You can fold along the existing creases on your clothes to avoid any aesthetic issues. While they make your items neater, folding will usually give you less space.
You don’t have to stick to one folding method. If you want, you can mix and match depending on the items you’re holding. Basically, you’ll want to roll softer clothes and fold stiffer clothes. This way, you can maximize neatness and space within your bag.
Once you’re done folding your items, it’s time to arrange them inside your bag. There are a few ways to do this as well, and I’ve got two favorites covered for you here.
If there is one group you should get inspiration from, it has to be the army. These guys and gals are known for efficiency, and yes, this applies to their bag-packing philosophy as well.
What many in the military do is treat the packing phase as if they are going to create a solid wall. The bag is the foundation, the clothes and essentials are the brick and mortar.
Layer your belongings on top of each other. You may also use extra bags to place essentials in. This way, you’re able to create a solid wall of clothes and necessities that are as easy to take out as they are to put in.
For this method, folding your clothes may be the better choice, as you’re going to stack your items from the bottom up.
Alternatively, you can also treat your luggage as if you’re playing a game of Tetris. This means utilizing every inch of space possible.
For instance, you can place socks inside your shoes. You then lay these from heel to toe at the bottom of your suitcase.
Thinking of your luggage as a game of Tetris works really well with the rolling method and packing cubes, as you’re creating the blocks that will be stacked on eachother.
A Few More Tips
Now that you’ve got the planning and packing stage “in the bag,” I thought I’d share a few general tips you can apply.
Practice Your Packing
One of the reasons my husband and I schedule our trips weeks ahead is not just the price of tickets. We sometimes take time to practice packing our stuff.
This helps us memorize our items so that we don’t have to pull everything out when we need only one thing. We also get to see what else we can do to improve the space we are using, or any additional items we can filter out.
While it might seem tedious and unnecessary, practicing your packing for a trip will go a long way in terms of saving you space, time, and energy… and everything that “matters” (yes that was a physics joke).
First Comes Last, Last Comes First
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was still new to traveling was not knowing the priority order of my belongings. I placed my toiletries at the bottom of the bag, so once I got to the hotel and I wanted to freshen up, I had to dig through a mound of clothes to get what I wanted.
The principle you should follow is simple but often forgotten; the items you need first should be placed in last.
During the planning phase, check your itinerary to see which clothes you’ll be needing on a specific day. You should then layer your items based on your priority order.
Keep Liquids in Reach and Get a Small Bottle
The rules regarding bottled liquids vary depending on where you are, but it’s very likely you’re going to be stopped for an inspection if the guards notice that you’re carrying liquids with you.
The Transport Security Administration (TSA) limits 3.4 oz. containers for liquids. These can be placed in your carry-on. Anything that goes above should be in checked baggage.
Regardless of where you’re headed, you may want to place your liquids within reach at all times. In case of an inspection, you can easily pull out the item and place it back in once done.
Speaking of liquids, stay hydrated at all times!
A decent airline will give you a small bottle of water during a long flight. Keep the empty bottle and you can fill it up after getting through security. This also prevents you from buying extravagantly priced airport water.
Wear Bulky Items During Travel
To fully utilize the space within your luggage, you may want to wear your bulky clothing while you’re on the flight. Baggy jeans and jackets take a lot of luggage space. Putting these on may save you a lot of space.
Bring A Laundry Bag
Laundry bags (or something similar) should be on your essentials list. They’re made to separate and store used clothes. If there are no laundry services nearby, you may have to pack in used clothes with unused ones.
You definitely don’t want the smell passing on from one item to the next.
Avoid Bringing Expensive Jewelry
Unless completely necessary, you should avoid bringing expensive jewelry with you. If you really want to, then bring just enough to be worn at all times.
In any case where you’ll be needing a few rings and earrings, use a pillbox to organize your expensive belongings. This will also keep them safe from unwanted hands.
Always Bring A Small Health Kit
Regardless of where you’re going, make it a must to carry a small health kit. Inside this, make sure to have rubbing alcohol, bandages and even over-the-counter medicine for headache, nausea, and cold.
Alright, That’s All for Now
I hope this guide will put you on the path of becoming the Marie Kondo of packing. 🙂
This might seem like a lot of fuss over putting stuff in a suitcase, but believe me, having a well-oiled packing method will save you from a lot of headaches and help you actually enjoy yourself.
And really, isn’t that what any trip should be about?