Your ultimate guide to packing light.
Professional tips and tricks to get you packed without breaking a sweat
Everyone loves to travel, but even some of the most seasoned travelers haven’t mastered the art of packing. There are those who overpack and can’t get the zipper of their suitcase closed. There are those who forget items, either at home or when leaving the destination. And there are those who underpack and end up having to spend extra money on vacation replacing things they already own. No matter what kind of packer you are, these tips will have you packing like a pro whether you’re checking a suitcase or just bringing a carry-on.
Make a list
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked. When I say make a list, I mean one on paper with checkboxes that you can physically mark as you put things into your bag so you know for sure that you have what you need. The key to making a packing list is to start a week or two before your trip. Pay attention to what you use regularly. You may have planned to bring a full makeup kit, but you actually use the same foundation/mascara/lip gloss combo every day. Having a list ready before packing will make the process quicker and will cut down on the chances of forgetting anything. Just make sure to pack the list as well so everything also returns home with you.
Keep electronics packed together
If you travel like me you probably have a lot of electronics with you. My bag usually has a laptop and charger, phone and charger, camera, extra battery pack, and battery charger. The easiest way to make it through security with all of that gear is to treat them like liquids. My electronics are packed together at the top of my bag where they are easy to grab when I make it to my turn at security. You don’t want to be the person holding up the line because your iPad is tucked into the bottom of your carryon.
When on vacation, people tend to forget that laundry still exists. This leads to overpacking in the form of bringing an outfit for each day of your two-week trip. Pack less and look for an Airbnb with a washing machine or google the nearest laundromat. The hour spent cleaning your clothes will be worth it when you save on those checked baggage fees.
This one comes down to ergonomics. Heavier items should be at the bottom of your bag. It makes them easier to move and carry (for both you and the luggage handlers) and you don’t have to deal with your suitcase flopping over every time you try to set it down.
If you are bringing an extra pair of shoes, make sure you aren’t wasting that space. Shoes are the perfect place to store underwear and socks. If you’re packing heels, make sure you are filling in the space under the arch. In my experience, a rolled-up t-shirt fits perfectly.
I once traveled for three months with just a backpack using this tip. If you’ve never heard of the online sensation, a capsule wardrobe is made up of a few key pieces that all mix and match. Even if you are a maximalist in your everyday life, you should consider this traveling trick. Pick two to three bottoms, three to four tops, and a jacket and cardigan that are all in the same color scheme. You get bonus points if the items are versatile enough to be dressed up or down to the occasion. Even though you're only packing a few items, you have thirty different outfits to choose from. It’s a game-changer.
This tip is for the packers who can’t get their suitcase to close or those who are trying to keep their bags within a tight dimensions allowance. These bags compress your clothes into small and easy to manage packages and can compress your items to a third of the size. There are the budget versions that require you to roll them after placing clothes inside to force the air out of a small vent in the bottom. Fancier options can be hooked up to a vacuum cleaner. They get a tighter seal but can lead to issues when packing to come home. An Airbnb might have a vacuum you can use, but a hotel room probably won’t.
There is something about traveling that makes us think we will become the person we’ve always dreamed of being. It is why we will pack that skimpy red dress that has been sitting in the closet for five years. Be honest with yourself when packing. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing it now, you aren’t going to feel more comfortable in it just because you're in Cabo. And do you really need a formal cocktail dress just in case? You don’t have to be restrictive, just be reasonable.