The thrill of planning a trip will often light you up and consume all of your time. You look through guidebooks, talk to friends about their experiences, and research your itinerary on the internet. Still all this planning and research will not make the task of packing any less daunting.
Who hasn’t stood at the foot of their bed with empty suitcases spread on top, the
night before a big trip, filled with anxiety because you still haven’t packed?!?! You
try and try to think about exactly what you should be packed, throwing things in
and then taking them out. And you wonder, why didn’t any of the guidebooks give
you any advice on packing?
Well, hopefully this guide will help you, so that you can confidently pack and enjoy
the moments leading up to your trip, rather than being stressed over the contents
of your bag.
Luggage – I recommend taking one carry-on and one checked suitcase.
Shorter trips may allow for a carry-on only, but I would never take more than one
checked bag no matter how long you are traveling. Remember, when you get to
your destination, you will need to carry your luggage and you don’t know how far
you’ll be lugging it. While we’re talking about lugging your luggage… I would
recommend selecting a suitcase or pack that had wheels, but that you can also hand
carry. There are many varieties of large backpacks with wheels. The reasoning is
that if your wheels break off (a common occurrence along cobblestone streets), you
will still be able to carry your pack.
Shoes – Bring a pair of sneakers (or boots) for outdoor activities such as
hiking, and a dressier pair of closed-toe shoes for museums, dinner’s out, or other
city activities. If you are traveling to a hot locale, then also bring a pair of sandals
that can go from beach to dinner. Resist the urge to bring 10 pairs of shoes!!! As
someone who loves shoes, I always want to pack a wide variety… but we must avoid
packing too many shoes! They take up space, are heavy, and are an unnecessary
Shorts – When traveling to a hot climate, shorts are often considered a
requirement. Still, remember that in many cultures shorts are not considered
acceptable. For example, many museums and churches such as the Vatican will not
allow you to enter if you are wearing shorts (or have exposed shoulders for that
matter). Bring only a pair or two of shorts, and make sure that you have other light
weight options for hot weather.
Basics – Bring enough socks and underwear to last for every day of the
trip (up to two weeks) so that you will not need to do laundry. For longer trips,
understand that you will likely need to do laundry on the road if you do not want to
bring ridiculous amounts of luggage. As far as shirts, pants, skirts, and the rest…
Bring clothes that could be worn during the day or at night, and as a general rule
bring half as many items as you have days. Wearing items twice should be no
problem, and you will significantly lighten your load.
Rolling – To avoid wrinkles and use your precious packing area to the
max, fold your clothes in half (in the long direction), then roll as smoothly and
tightly as possible. When you arrive at your destination, your clothes will unroll
wrinkle-free. Stuff socks and underwear into your shoes and carefully place the
shoes on top of the rows or rolled clothes.
Toiletries – Bring all of your toiletries in travel size containers. Full size
shampoo bottles add unneeded weight to your pack. After selecting your toiletries,
place all items into zip-lock bags. If a bottle bursts during travel, you will be much
relieved to have the protection. If you are bringing make-up, keep it to the bare
necessities, avoid bringing extras like eyelash curlers. Any prescription medication
should be accompanied by the actual prescription and if possible, a note from your
physician. Keep the medication, as well as your toothbrush and toothpaste in your
carry-on, just in case your luggage is lost.
If you follow these basic packing rules, you will find that the process of packing and
carrying your luggage will be much easier. Additionally, you will be able to enjoy
your travels much easier knowing that you have brought what you need, but can still
carry the load.
Enjoy your trip (and your packing!)!