One of the most dreaded tasks that comes with travel is packing; we either pack too much, forget to pack something, feel rushed to pack or would rather just avoid the process. As I love to travel, I have figured out a few tips and tricks over the years that helps me with the packing process, and ultimately contributes to a smoother trip.
Whether I am going to a tropical destination, to Europe or to colder climates, whether I am travelling for a few days or a few weeks, I always try to pack everything in a carry on. Well, a carry on and a large hand tote. I have a few tips and tricks for packing. And as a bonus, I will share some of my tips for handling long flights.
- Make Lists
Make lists of what you need to do, what you need to buy, what you need to pack, what you need to prepare and so forth. Having a smart phone with programmed alert reminders makes it so much easier.
- Charge in advance
Be sure to charge your devices in advance – Ipad, laptop, phone, camera battery etc, especially if you have a long flight or don’t have access to an outlet for some time.
- Download in advance
Download any movies you want to watch in advance. Also, some airlines have Apps which allows for in flight movies/shows, such as the Air Canada App. If you are going to be exploring, I would also recommend downloading a google map of your destination in advance of your trip. You can use it offline.
- Photocopy Passport/ID
Email a copy of your passport and other important ID to yourself or send them to a reliable friend/family in case of emergency
- Pack a foldable bag
This will come in handy if you want to do any shopping or plan to move between different cities and don’t want to put every thing back in your suitcase etc. This was perfect for me on my recent trip to Asia- I used it to hold my winter travel clothes and jacket, making room in my carry on so I could easily access things I needed as I travelled throughout the various countries.
- Split your cash and cards
Do not keep all your money in the same place. I always bring 2 envelopes and separate them. I keep them in the safe, if available where I am staying. If there is no safety deposit box available, I find a picture or something I can tape the envelope to without being seen. I also only take what I need for the day while travelling. Bring a sturdy lock with you so you can lock your valuables in the suitcase, if no safety deposit box is available.
- Travel Insurance
Don’t be cheap! Get insurance, especially if your credit card is limited in what it covers i.e. it may cover flight cancellation but may not cover loss of suitcase. Also medical coverage is not something that should be gambled with so save yourself the hassle and get it.
- Plan Outfits in Advance
I always lay out my outfits in advance, in an effort to minimize packing excess while maximizing cross over outfits (eg jeans can be worn more than once). I ensure that I have enough for the climate and conditions I am going to be travelling to so planning it out is a great way to map out what I need.
- Packing Cubes
These are your best friend when packing. I swear by them. For some reason they always seem to hold more than expected. Get enough cubes to fill your suitcase, including pouches for shoes, electronics and cosmetics. You can buy these on Amazon, or any travel store.
- Fold like Marie Condo
Her style of rolling your clothes can maximize how much space you have available to fit into the cubes
- Maximize the space
Fill your shoes and any other object that has room to fill. This saves space. I usually try to put heavy objects like my universal adaptor inside my shoes.
- Heavy on bottom
If you are taking bulky or heavy items, it is best to pack them at the bottom of the suitcase. If they can fit in a travel cube, do so and pile clothes around it so as to take away some of the weight. Also see point above.
- Dryer Sheets
Pack a few dryer sheets in between your clothes, especially if you aren’t able to wash them during your trip and you don’t want to bring back a suitcase full of smelly clothes.
- Solid over Liquid
Where possible, try to take solids over liquids eg shampoo bars, solid perfume
- Travel Size First Aid Kit
A travel size first aid/medication kit is recommended especially if you plan of doing a lot of adventure activities and you aren’t going to have easy access to supplies. I usually pack a kit containing Advil, Benadryl, band Aids, Polysporin, Alcohol Wipes, Epipen.
- Pre-filled Cosmetic Case
I have a see-through cosmetic case that I use for travel. I ensure that it is always filled so it saves much time and hassle for my travels. My case includes shampoo/conditioner, perfume, deodorant, hair ties, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, moisturizer, face wash, face cream, dry shampoo, nail file, tweezers, sunscreen, tinted moisturizer, bronzer with mini brush, razor and mascara.
- Foldable Jacket
If travelling to a warmer climate, invest in a foldable puff jacket. I bought one years ago for Peru and it was a life saver moving between cooler to warmer climates, and not wanting to pack too much. The foldable jackets can wrap around your waist during travel so saves the extra room in your suitcase for flight. And it can also serve as an extra layer to cover yourself during a cold flight.
- Reusable ziplock for electronics
I usually take a reusable ziplock like case for my camera and phone, in the event of rain or if I am going to the beach. They serve as my “waterproof” casing.
- Universal Adaptor
If travelling to a country that has a different power outlet than your own, take a universal adaptor with you.
- Laundry detergent powder
If I am travelling for more than a week, I take laundry detergent with me so I can wash my undies, socks and other items and re-wear them on my trip. Also, depending on room, I will take a mini lavender oil spray and spritz my clothes to keep them smelling fresh.
- Things to pack for a flight:
- Reading material – book/kindle/kobo/magazines
- Laptop/Ipad – for movies, etc.
- Neck Pillow
- Eye Mask & ear plugs- if sight and sound bother you, these may be your lifesaver for a good night sleep
- Pack a personal care kit (especially for red eye)- toothbrush & toothpaste, deodorant, face wipes, under eye mask strips, chapstick, eye drops, face moisturizer
- Blanket Scarf- this serves dual purpose – it is perfect to stay warm on the plane and acts as a cover for those cooler days when travelling
- Water bottle – if you don’t want to take a reusable water bottle with you, then I recommend buying box water at the airport and reusing it (trying to cut down on plastic consumption)
- Snacks- bring your snacks from home- they will be cheaper and healthier. Some of my favourite snacks include bars from Midday Squares, RX bars, nuts, trail mixes, dried fruit.
- Fragile Sticker
If it is an option, always opt for a fragile sticker, even if you are taking a carry on. Many times I am prepared to take a carry on but when I get to the plane, it is packed and they tell me they have to take my luggage. Having a “fragile” sign on it helps (I hope) minimize damage to the suitcase when placed with checked luggage.
- Isle seat vs window seat
If you are someone who wants the freedom to go to the bathroom and walk the isles or stretch your feet, the isle is for you. But if you are someone who likes to sleep for most/all of the flight, the window is the perfect head rest.
- Drink Water!
While I know it is tempting to avoid drinking a lot so as to avoid constantly going to the bathroom, drinking water is imperative to your health. A male can lose up to 2 L, and a female can lose up to 1.6L over a 10 hour flight! Hours before I travel, I start water loading. Your skin and gut will thank you!
- Dress Comfy
I always wear sweat pants (Lululemon) and comfy shoes that can easily slip off like my runners. If I am going to a cold destination, then I will wear my winter boots so as to have less weight in my suitcase, but I always pack a thick long pair of socks so I am not freezing on the plane. I also wear a large cardigan or zip up hoodie for ease of removal during security but keeping warm in the plane.
I hope this blog offers some useful tips for your next adventure!