Traveling women come in different shapes and sizes, they also come in different attitudes and moods. One curious thing about them is how they pack. There is that traveler who doesn’t care, maybe they are confident enough, too busy, or don’t really care what they pack, so they just do it at the last second, like hours before they have to get to the airport or the port or station. There is this other traveler who is the exact opposite. Meticulous, careful, and organized, they do not need that much time, and do not even spend a lot of time, in packing. That’s because they already know what to do, what to pack, and how to go about it. The inside of bags, when we look at it, is Instagram-worthy, immaculately packed suitcases.
This article is for that third traveler, a bad combination of the first two. They know to pack early, yes. Because they will take a lot of time going about it. And they know it, they’ve been there before. They would take out a suitcase, hours later, put it back and bring out a different suitcase, then change their mind and would start packing a backpack. Then when they realize there’s not enough space, they will take everything out, use a different suitcase, maybe get the first one they took out and put everything there. Finally, they will realize they packed too much, will take out all the stuff again and think about changing bags...again! The cycle goes on. If you are one of these people, kind of, a little bit, or exactly like, read on because here are 20 tips on how to pack efficiently before traveling.
20 20. Testers, Samples, and Freebies
Adhering to carry-on rules about liquids and such, the free testers and samples we get in malls are perfect for trips. If you are the kind of person who cannot say no to free stuff, then you will be covered on this. Take those samples with you, choose those good ones to bring on your trip, and just put them in a clear container. There should be no problems upon inspection, as these things are usually not more than 100 ml. There is no need to check them anymore, or to buy small containers exclusively for your cosmetic needs, just dig into that stack of samples for the ones you’d like and voila, we’re all set.
19 19. Packing Jewelry
There are a few brilliant travel hacks when it comes to packing jewelry. It seems like no problem when packing these things, ‘because they’re small and do not take up a lot of space.’ The issue is the mess it becomes when we get to our destination and it’s time to use them. Lost earring, misplaced pendants, tangled up bracelets and necklaces, these are the usual issues. Here are simple and free ways you can avoid all those problems. Use straws and string them on to avoid untangling your necklaces, use a pill container to put the jewelry, a small mint container could do the trick, too.
18 18. Plan Wardrobe First
After doing your research about your destination, its humidity, the temperature during the day and at night, it is time to plan our wardrobe. Go with the clothes you are most comfortable with, these are the things you always wear, favorite jeans, shorts, and shirts. Do not overpack if the trip is longer than a week, just mix and match, bring clothes that go well with any shade or any kind of top or bottom. Pack more shirts and tops, fewer jeans and bottoms, they’re heavier and bulkier. Cotton is the best bet, breathable and comfortable, so bring white cotton shirts for sleeping and just a lazy day in the city.
17 17. The Heaviest Clothes
Checking baggage can be a bane, so if we are planning on going carry-on all the way, here’s a nice tip. Wear as many of the heavier clothes as you can going to the airport. Jackets, coats, sweaters, put them all on. You might look like Joey in an episode of Friends, just don’t do any lunging as he did. But it’s a good way to avoid checking baggage. Wear the heaviest shoes, too. That’s a pound worth of baggage on your person. Choose the shirt with the thickest fabric, and wear that one, jeans or pants that are heaviest and wear those together. We may look out of fashion, weird even, but hey, it’s all worth it.
16 16. Washing Clothes
Packing a small detergent to wash clothes is one way to minimize your packing and to have more space for souvenirs and new stuff to bring home. Bring two pairs of staple top and bottom, ones you can easily wash and that dries easier, and wash them once they are soiled. We wear clothes unless they get stains or they start to get smelly, then wash them in your bathroom sink, hang them out in the sun, and they’re all dry in just 3 hours. Ready for another round of adventure with you wherever you may be going the next day.
15 15. On Toiletries
Soaps, shampoo, and all other bathroom essentials are available in hotels. If your hotel is really nice they may have more in store for you than soaps and shampoo. Some hotels even have bath salts, moisturizers, and chocolate nuggets in the bathroom! Toiletries and packing them can be a nuisance, these things are liquid and will be inspected and won’t even get past security. Here’s where the small containers come in handy, make sure your toiletry essentials are no more than 100 ml and packed in a clear case for an easier time at inspection. Some people use bar shampoos and conditioners, give them a try.
14 14. Folding Alternative
A friend taught me this trick years ago, and I haven’t packed differently since then. Rolling your clothes instead of folding them really saves a lot of space in the suitcase, plus they wrinkle less, or not at all if packed correctly. Try it out for yourself first, do a test. Pack your bag the usual way you do it, then take it all out and roll them up, then pack them in. The bag did not grow larger, nor did your clothes become smaller, rolling them just gives you additional suitcase space, it’s a fact. With a few trips packing this way, you’ll be an expert clothes-roller in no time.
13 13. Towels
Towels are tricky, they are heavy and bulky, and take a lot of space in our suitcase. Rolling them up might help, but it does not do the trick. If you are the kind of traveler who likes to pack their own towel, even though there is always one available in your hotel room, or at the resort’s pool, then you might as well invest in a nice towel specifically designed for traveling. They are more expensive than the regular heavy and bulky ones, but they are a space saver, they dry quicker, and they are not a problem when it comes to packing them. A sweater is bulkier than these things.
12 12. Big Scarves
Big scarves, or sarongs, are a must-have for any woman traveling to any destination. They are fashionable, light and very useful. Even men can pull off a sarong if they know what they are doing. They’re so handy and useful, we suggest you bring more than one. Use it as a blanket at the park or at the beach, to cover your body in conservative countries, use them as a cover on a hot day, or to keep warm and pretty at night. Use them as a hijab or as a makeshift bag. Bring two and you’re good. Bring three and you’re like MacGyver.
11 11. Packing Shoes
We all love shoes, if we could bring ten pairs of shoes on a trip, we would do it in a heartbeat. But we can't do it, as much as we want to. Shoes can be really bulky and heavy when packing for travel. So first things first, let’s minimize the packing of shoes. Choose the most comfortable ones if your trip and destination are more on the adventurous side. Sandals are the best for a tropical destination, city tours, and lazy days out in the city. Are packing dirty shoes going back home? Pack your old shower caps and put those dirty shoes in them, problem solved.
10 10. Cables and Similar Items
Cables are easy to just throw in our bag and go. But these things are a mess when improperly packed and could get damaged with such treatment. Ever get to a destination and go to charge your device only to find the cable is no longer working? Bummer, right. So let’s take care of them. Simple trick, use an old sunglasses case. A cute DIY canister would do the trick as well. In this day and age, there is no traveler in the world that has a single item of cable in their bag. So look for a nice container for your precious cables before you travel.
9 9. Use Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are always a helpful suitcase organizer. Purchase them now if you don’t have them yet and you’re a frequent traveler. You’d never go anywhere without them once you’ve used them for the first time. People who use them will tell you how much they love using them. They kind of compartmentalize your clothes and your things inside the suitcase. One might think they only add to space and weight, but they are made of thin and light fabric and will do nothing but help. They usually come in three different sizes as a package, in different colors and material, too. Pack them to your pleasure and convenience.
8 8. Luggage Scale
Before purchasing a luggage scale, check your suitcase first. It might be time to change it, or what’s worse is that it may be heavier than it’s letting on. Get a good kind of luggage first, there are lightweight but heavy duty ones out there. Invest in them, you’d be using them for more than 5 years, so get good quality ones. After that, you can go about getting a luggage scale. It pays to have one of these devices because getting slapped with overweight fees is a feeling we would not want to have. It’s one of those bummer situations that dampen our vacation mood.
7 7. Plastic Bags
Precautionary measures, plastic bags are our last line of defense towards a clean suitcase. Exploding lotions, leaking bottles, and wet and smelly clothes, we’ve all experienced that. The best way to avoid them is to have plastic bags handy in case we need to wrap something up in our luggage. Ziploc bags do the trick, they are strong enough to contain an explosion due to the pressure on the plane. There are also available bags for clothes, you can get some of those, too. But any kind of plastic bag would actually do the trick here, no need to go out and buy some. Just reuse and protect the environment at the same time.
6 6. Packing Underwear
There are a few tricks to packing underwear efficiently, I’m sure you know some of those. Well, we have two tips, if you haven’t heard of them yet, they’re very easy to do, so pay attention. Stacking bras on top of each other would ensure that the shape of the cup does not go bad, we don’t want to sport a bra with a weird shape inside our shirts. One more way to secure a bra in your suitcase is to stuff them with underwear. Use that space in the bra and stuff your undies there, roll the panties up and put them inside the cup space. Protects the shape of the bra and hides your delicates at the same time.
5 5. Use Hotel Complementaries
Aside from the regular bathroom essentials, you can find in a hotel room, soap, shampoo, towels, there are also some things that are practical and very useful. Remember these things, put a mental note not to pack these things again if we are checking into a really nice, upscale hotel. Bathrobes are available for your use in hotels, so don’t pack those bulky things anymore. Remember the shoe tip with the shower caps? Shower caps are also available in hotel rooms, so use them, too. Call housekeeping and just ask what are their complementaries, they’d be glad to send some up your way.
4 4. Curling Irons, Hair Dryers, and Straighteners
Some of us have hair that goes berserk in places where the humidity is different. So, as much as we want to tell you not to bring those curling irons and straighteners, we know where you are coming from. First, check with your hotel if they have these devices at the customers’ disposal, if they do, then reserve one for your room and you don’t have to bring one with you. Hair dryers are always available in hotel rooms. Or try out some hair products (surf spray, for instance) or bring hats or that multi-purpose sarong. But if there’s enough space in your luggage, bring what device you need, if it would make you look and feel better, then go for it.
3 3. Electronic Devices
Devices like tablets can now replace e-books and actual books (paperbacks or hardbound). Bring one with you, especially if you are going on a long plane ride. If your itinerary has a lot of downtimes, more rest and relaxation than anything else, a nice book would come in handy. Again, go for the electronic book. It just saves a lot of space in your luggage. Be careful to pack these kinds of devices in hard-shell cases, this includes laptops and other electronic devices that won’t be in your purse while on the plane. We don’t know how rocky our flight could be, a little bump in the right place could ruin the crystal display of the tablet or laptop.
2 2. Emergency Kits
It’s never a bad idea to prepare for bad things that could come our way, even (or especially) when we are on our vacation. One good way to be equipped for these situations is to have emergency kits, nowadays a first aid kit is no longer enough. We have emergency sewing kits now, basic survival kits for the adventure enthusiasts, camping survival kits, and emergency hygiene kits. There are others, more specific to a certain situation but not likely to be a scenario while traveling. So, depending on where you are going and what your activities will be, be equipped with the right emergency kit and pack them with you in your suitcase before anything else.
1 1. Purses and Handbags
This may look like the least important item to take time thinking about when traveling, but it is really the exact opposite. When you arrive at your destination, you leave your suitcase and big bags at the hotel. You take out your purse, which is specifically chosen for this occasion. Why not spend more time about what kind of purse or handbag to use, right? After all, this item will be with you wherever you go. So, choose them for comfort, for security, or for fashion. Or hit the trifecta, and find a purse or handbag that fills all three categories.