Packing can be a difficult and overwhelming task, and for many, their least favorite part of travel. How many times have you have arrived at a destination and did not have what you needed, or your bag was such a nightmare that you wanted to throw your items in the garbage just to make it lighter? Here are 10 of the top ways to simplify your packing.
In order to make the packing process easier, there are key things to take into consideration before you even begin packing. This will help you narrow down what to bring, and what type and size of luggage to use. Then, when you open your bags at your destination, you will feel prepared, relaxed, and focused on enjoying your trip, not worried about what is, or isn’t in your bag.
The Top 10 Ways to Simplify Your Packing
1. Consider Your Destination
Are you familiar with your destination? Is it a remote location or are key items accessible if you realize you forgot something? For example, If I know I’m hiking for a week and I really do not expect to be attending a party, I may opt to leave my little black dress at home, to keep my bag as light and clutter free as possible. But there’s always that random chance you will be invited somewhere unexpectedly. So, do you throw the dress in, just in case? Depending on your destination, sometimes it’s easier to take a chance.
This thought process also goes for more important items. If I know I am going to a third world country where access to certain medication is hard to come by, I will definitely error on the side of caution.
When I was hiking in the mountains of Albania, there were times in between villages where there was no access to any type of commerce, not even to buy a bottle of water. When I ran out and had to fill my bottle from a creek, of course I was happy to have packed water tablets. Several days during this trip, there was unexpected rain. I am not referring to a drizzle, but more like a downpour. I had an emergency poncho in my backpack. Had I not, there was absolutely nowhere to have sourced one, let alone a makeshift garbage bag.
These scenarios would not have been a big deal if I had been in the center of town. It may have been a slight inconvenience, but I could have just bought them on an as needed basis. Therefore, it is important to weigh out where you will be.
2. Determine the Type of Travel You Are Planning
Will you arrive at your accommodation and not have to touch your bags for the remainder of the trip? Are you moving frequently from place to place? In situations where you will not be moving your bags, like a cruise, resort, or a one destination trip, you are more at liberty to pack a bit bulkier with more options, if you choose. The type of bag you pack in may not be as important, since you will not be in and out of your bag.
If you are moving place to place, the luggage you choose is very important. It is difficult to manage bulky bags. It also stinks to have a big jumble and be unable to get organized. Therefore, a backpack may be easier in terms of transport, but a basic suitcase that opens up so that you can view all of your stuff, and so that your items are not stacked, may keep you more organized.
3. Organize Your Packables
Building on the above thought regarding backpacks versus a suitcase, how you organize the contents of your bag, can eliminate the issue of having to take everything out when you want one item, sometimes associated with backpacks.
I find that by using packing cubes, no matter what type of luggage I choose as my container, I am always organized.
Also see Jenny In Wanderland article on 5 Tips to be Organized While Packing
Decide what should be in your carry-on versus what needs to be in your “checked” or larger luggage, or if you will only have one piece. Next, layout what you are considering bringing, in piles according to what bag you plan on using, and gauging if it will all fit. As a result, you will spot things that you may not need or that you forgot. Lastly, condense your piles one more time and then choose your luggage accordingly.
If you going on a plane, do you prefer carry-on, or will you check your bag? If you plan on checking, view all of the rules. There may be a fee charged. When carrying it onboard, you will need to find room to stow it. If the overhead is full, you may have no choice but to gate check it. If this is the case, you will need to be prepared to remove any personal belongings such as medication your wallet, your cell phone, and anything else you need on board.
For this purpose, I found this awesome backpack that weighs nothing and folds up into a small dot. It has a clip to hook it to the outside of most bags. It is amazing the amount of weight this bag can hold. I also often use it for short hikes or to walk around a city for the day. I always have this with me in case I need another piece of luggage in a bind.
Taking a ferry or train may entail lugging your bag a distance, or up and down stairs. Be prepared to lift your bag onboard, and get it through the aisle. If you arrive by train, subway, or other public transport, is there an escalator or elevator? Think whether you need to fit your luggage into a car trunk. Also consider the possibilities of your bags being transported by a horse, donkey, or in other obscure travel situations. Remember that weight limits are often enforced, especially in a helicopter or small plane. Knowing these potential obstacles exist will not only aid you in efficient packing, but will also help avoid issues on the road.
5. Know the Accessibility of Your Location
In addition to dealing with your luggage during transport, your bag will also likely be with you at your destination. Is there a porter or someone to help you with your bags to your room? Are there elevators or ramps at the location or only stairs?
Some accommodations are difficult to reach upon arrival. For example, in Venezia, there are many curving alleys and bridges with stairs. Once you arrive in the city, you likely will still need to access your destination on foot. In Cinque Terre and Santorini, you will find steep pavement and stairs to reach many cliffside abodes. In a desert or beach location, you may not be able to roll your bag due to sand. Some beautiful lakeside retreats require you to get down the hillside to the lake on a trail. In Varanasi, the streets can be so crowded, there is no room to pull your bag!
The Top 10 Ways to Simplify Your Packing
6. Anticipate Weather
In colder climates, you may need to allow for jackets, sweaters, long underwear, snow boots, and additional socks. These items can be bulky to pack. Knowing the forecast may help you to determine your needs and subsequently, your luggage size.
Conversely, if you know your destination is hot and sunny, your fabrics may be extremely light, the articles of clothing will likely be smaller, and you won’t pack bulky heavyweight items such as jackets and sweaters.
Cold weather clothing is sometimes thicker, and may take up more space, but it doesn’t have to. It really depends on factors such as how high tech your clothing is, and how fashionable you choose to be, which can lead to bulkier choices. Sometimes a larger piece of luggage is unavoidable.
7. Establish the Purpose of Your Travel
When traveling for a wedding, business, or special occasion, your packing may need to include special attire that you normally would not want to pack. In order to simplify your packing, you can incorporate your essential items into your travel wardrobe if you are planning on adding a pleasure segment after your obligations are through.
For example, if you bring a lightweight simple black sweater, you can dress it up or down. This article will work for business or over a formal dress, but can also be worn casually with a tee, shorts, or jeans. Packing crossover items helps to eliminate clutter and excess baggage.
8. Pack Multi-Use Fashion
The concept of “Crossover” or “Multi-use” articles of clothing and accessories is not really new. However, fashion has evolved to make these types of travel pieces even more practical and efficient. The idea is to use one item for multiple purposes, such as day to night, formal to casual, or business to social. This minimizes the amount of items you need to pack.
Examples of multi-use fashion are sweaters, scarves, a solid color blazer, a black dress, and strappy sandals. Imagine going to your business meeting in a black dress with a blazer and strappy sandals. Hours later, you go directly out for cocktails with friends. Remove the blazer, add some bold earrings, and you are day to night. Voila!
See Jenny In Wanderland article, 6 Versatile Packable Travel Fashion Items
9. Have a Packing Goal
Is your mission to be as frugal and well-packed as possible, to have everything you need plus a few things you want, or are you going all out fashion? This is not to say that you cannot be fashionable if you pack minimally, but sometimes, you want to go big and enjoy all the items in your wardrobe that you haven’t had an occasion to wear.
This may apply for a cruise, a destination wedding, an all inclusive resort, or other specific travel. It is important to be clear which method you are going with. The main point here is to make conscious decisions and to be aware of the possible consequences of each, so that your baggage is not the cause of stress. The main risk you run is overpacking and the inability to fit, carry, or store your luggage. If this is not a factor, then do whatever floats your boat.
10. Choose Your Luggage Wisely
Many times I like to have a small back pack as my carry-on. However, last Summer, I pulled something in my back and I was not sure that I’d be able to carry the backpack any distance. Therefore, it definitely made sense to have a small sized roller bag. This way, if I had to carry it, like down a train aisle, I could, but if I was in pain, I could also roll it. It is important to be realistic about your limitations, and plan accordingly. Bags generally do not get lighter during a trip. Start out with baggage you can manage.
In addition to any limitations you may have, choosing a bag that is right for you is also very important. Some luggage is heavy before you put anything in it. Some luggage may be awkward in shape, or size. If you choose a roller bag, be sure the wheels are sturdy and roll well. Check the handle for sturdiness and to see if it is easily retractable. If you choose a backpack, be sure it is adjustable so it fits properly to you.
Read more from Jenny In Wanderland on How to Choose a Backpack.
These are 10 top ways to simplify your packing. You will find that you are more comfortable while traveling and have exactly what you need when you open your bag! Happy Packing!