When people say they’re dreading their next vacation – they don’t mean that they’re apprehensive of the sunny afternoons spent lounging on the beach. What most travelers are really cringing at, is the idea of having to get through all of that pesky packing.
While TSA locks might get you through security easier, you need to know what to put inside your bag first – and how to pack it, if you want to get the most out of your vacation. There’s so much to think about too: what you need to take, what you need to leave behind, what you’re going to wear and what you might do. Forget just one essential item, and you’ll be left scrambling to find the nearest store at your destination. Pack too much – and you’ll end up disorganized, and burdened with heavy bags and even heavier airline baggage fees.
Following, we’ve put together a list of expert travel tips that should have you packing like a pro in time for your next big vacation.
1. Pinpoint Policies
Before you can even begin thinking about what you’re going to pack, it’s worth discovering what your limits are. While the majority of airlines will permit travelers to check at least a single bag on international flights, many U.S. carriers will charge huge prices for those who check bags on domestic flights. In fact, one airline has been known to charge as much as $100 for a carry-on bag.
Set aside your backpack, suitcase, and TSA locks for a moment, and check out your airline’s website. There, you should be able to find a baggage policy, which you can add to your consideration of the following expert travel tips as you attempt to start packing like a pro.
2. Choose The Right Carry-On
Once you’ve figured out what you can do with your luggage, you’ll need to do the same for your carry-on bag. Most domestic airlines will allow for a carry-on case that measures up to 22″ x 14″ x9″ – but again, this is something that you’ll need to check with your specific airline. Keep in mind that some bags that claim to meet common size restrictions don’t actually include measurements for handles and wheels in the dimensions.
It’s also worth looking for various space-saving features in your hand-luggage, so you can store extra clothes or souvenirs in there if necessary. For instance, many bags have small internal straps that help to secure the stuff you carry – while others contain wider straps that might allow you to squeeze a little more into the bag. If you want a touch of extra security, you might consider adding a TSA locks to your hand-luggage, as well as your suitcase.
3. Personalize Your Packing List
Most expert travel tips should suggest that you start figuring out your packing list days, or even weeks before your departure date. Packing like a pro means avoiding procrastination at all costs, which can include crafting a complete list of all the items you think you’ll need for your vacation. A good packing list is a good way to make sure you never forget to bring something important.
You might consider using a spreadsheet for this particular task, which you can subtract from, or add to depending on the specifics of your trip. For instance, you may have one “general” packing list that becomes longer, or shorter depending on whether you’re headed on a business trip, or you’re tackling Disney with the kids.
4. Choose Clothes Carefully
Why clutter your limited luggage space with clothes that you can only wear once? Everything you pack clothing-wise should have at least two or three potential uses in them, so you can make the most out of everything you take. Packing like a pro means taking the tip to plan a few uses or outfits for each item.
When it comes to expert travel tips, a good rule of thumb is to pack about two or three days’ worth of outfits, choosing fabrics that are quick to dry, wrinkle resistant, and coordinated in color so that you can easily mix or match. These outfits should also be versatile enough to be dressed down, or up, depending on the occasion. Remember – leave the “just in case” pieces at home.
5. Rock and Roll (or Bundle)
This is something you’ll see on just about all expert travel tips lists. Most packing pros – including backpackers who need to stuff months’ worth of clothes into a tiny bag – recommend rolling over folding, as clothes that have been rolled tightly take up less space than folded ones. What’s more, rolled clothes are less prone to wrinkles too!
On the other hand, you could always try something a little more complex – the bundling technique. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works:
- Lay out your jacket, and place a shirt on top of it in the opposite direction (sleeves overlapping)
- Add a pair of pants or shorts at a 90-degree angle to the shirt, and another pair of pants at the opposite side
- Tuck a small bundle of underwear, socks, and t-shirts into the middle
- Fold the pants up over the bundle, followed by the jacket and shirt
6. Discard All Unnecessary Items
Finally, stop preparing for “anything” and start getting realistic about what you’re going to need. Too much luggage space is taken up by things that you don’t need, or that you aren’t going to use. For instance, almost every hotel will have a hairdryer – and if you can’t find one in your room, all you need to do is ask.
What’s more, items like soap, shampoo, and moisturizer are probably going to be given to you by your hotel. If they aren’t, they will be available to purchase at your destination, so you can consider leaving toiletries behind to make more room for medications, necessities, and all of those souvenirs you want to bring home with you.