Successful packing tips
by: Denae D’Arcy for Penny Pinching Globetrotter
Part of a successful trip is having what you need. This means your packing game should be on-point. The tips we offer will be helpful for any traveler trying to pack light.
If traveling with a group you usually are responsible for your own luggage! So you want to pack light. These travel packing tips will help make sure you don’t get left behind struggling with cumbersome, heavy suitcases. This can be a security risk as well. Always try to keep your items in your possession and double check that they are loaded into group transportation vehicles. It is up to you to verify that your bags are not missing. To do this successfully, it is helpful to have smaller and fewer items to carry. So we recommend a carry on piece of luggage.
These ten packing tips will make you a travel packing pro in no time!
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1. Check the weather. This may seem like a no-brainer but not every location has the same seasons or time of year for the season that one finds in the United States. For instance, February in South Africa is one of the hottest months of the year. When you know what the weather pattern is in your location(s), begin to consider your wardrobe. You don’t want to pack unnecessary items that are not appropriate for the weather where you are traveling.
2. Plan neutral outfits that consist of layers. Neutral colors such as black, grey, navy and khaki coordinate. You can create many outfit combinations with neutral colors while layering items. Consider wearing a t-shirt or foundational shirt, a long sleeve shirt or sweater over it and depending on the potential for cooler weather, a down vest of a neutral color or jacket. Think mix and match. You do not need to plan seven different outfits for a seven-day trip.
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3. Include proper rain gear. A quick way to ensure a miserable experience is to allow yourself to become soaking wet. Please trust me on this one. Invest in a jacket with a hood that is WATERPROOF. With waterproof clothing, water is supposed to roll off the fabric rather than be absorbed. Note that there is a difference between weather resistant and waterproof fabric. Having the right gear is a big part of travel packing success.
4. To be a successful packer, bring quick-dry clothing options. The athletic and travel wear fashion scene has become more chic, and many items are neutral in color. Quick dry pants, shirts, shorts and even socks, give you the option to wash the clothing in the sink or tub yourself and have them dry in the morning or in a few hours if you hang them in the sun. This type of clothing also helps to wick sweat away from the skin and dries quickly if you’re caught in a downpour. (You won’t get wet though because you’ll have your waterproof jacket with you, right?) Plus it rarely wrinkles!
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5. A great tip when packing for your trip, wear your largest and heaviest shoes en route as well as your jacket. When going on a trip that might involve adventure activities such as trekking, I wear my hiking shoes during the journey to the destination. I bring slippers that roll up into a ball for the airplane. This saves on space and luggage weight, which you have in limited amounts. As for your jacket you can carry it or take it off once boarded to save space in your luggage.
6. My number one travel packing tip, use packing cubes. Cubes save so much time when you are looking for an item that you need. Pack all undergarments, swimsuits and socks in one cube, pants and tops in another, shorts and pajamas in another one and so forth. If the packing cubes are different colors, you can even make a note in your phone color coding which cube contains which clothing items. Cubes are great for successful trip packing as they zip down to a smaller size, removing excess air while keeping clothing compact allowing you to pack more in less space.
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7. Organize your electronics. There is nothing more frustrating than running out of battery when you need to check your email or the map. Don’t make this area of packing an after-thought. I like to use a specific, small electronic bag, placed in my carry-on, for charging cords. Unless I’m in my hotel room, after I use a charger, I immediately place it back in the bag. I know I have three items I want to charge, so I always verify that I have three chargers in my “electronics bag” before proceeding to my next destination.
8. To be a successful packer, travel with quality luggage. (Note this doesn’t say travel with expensive luggage.) After spending a few years of international travel using bargain luggage, it was time to upgrade when I found my personal items strewn on the baggage conveyor belt in Portugal. My cheap suitcase had burst open and it was obvious that security unsuccessfully tried to hold it together with duct tape. The frustration and embarrassment can be avoided by investing in decent luggage. You can even consider ordering top-quality, pre-owned luggage on sites like eBay.
9. Pack your bags a few days before your trip. Last minute packing when the traveler feels rushed or unorganized should be avoided. Lay your items out on a bed or floor before you putting them into your packing cubes. This gives you a full picture of your inventory and you can determine if you are forgetting something or packing too much.
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10. Consciously pack your personal carry-on bags. Travelers often approach their personal carry-on items as after thoughts. When I finally figured out that having an organized personal item cuts down on frustration and sometimes panic, I changed my method. Place your passport and travel documents together in an easy-to-find area. Always put them back in the same spot. Maybe you want to keep your credit cards and cash in separate pouches in a backpack. Snacks can be placed together in another pocket. It doesn’t matter how you organize your personal item, you just need to have a clear idea of the location of important items.
Check with your travel company, guide or search online for a packing list for your destination. Read it, circling the recommended items that you would like to include. The lists can be extensive, so it is okay to only bring what you need.
Now that you have packed successfully, feel a sense of accomplishment. If you forget something, do not panic. Chances are a fellow traveler can lend you an item or you can purchase it at your destination.
Denae D’Arcy has traveled the world videoing animals in their natural habitats and researching food and cooking techniques. She has also practiced yoga and meditation in several countries. At least 20 of her trips have been with groups. Denae shares her knowledge with travelers through easy-to-follow tips. She wishes you a magnificent adventure.