You’re at the airport, about to embark on a three-week adventure through Europe. You’ve checked your bags, gotten your tickets, and now only have to face the most dreaded part of being in an airport before setting off on your highly anticipated voyage: airport security.
Just when you thought you were getting through the security line quickly, the person in front of you halts the entire process. They’ve got water bottles filled to the brim, full-size perfumes and hairsprays, and a bag of fresh fruit. It’s clearly this person’s first rodeo. Our advice? Don’t be this person. There’s nothing that will make you want to go hide under a rock more than a large line of angry tourists cursing you under their breath for not knowing the basics of how to pack.
Luckily, we’ve outlined an extensive list of the do’s and don’ts of packing, whether you’re going on a short weekend getaway or an extended trip for several weeks.
1. Roll, roll, roll your clothes
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Rolling your clothes instead of folding them will save you a preposterous amount of room when packing. One of the hardest parts of packing for a trip is deciding which clothes to bring, and then figuring out how you can possibly fit them all in your suitcase. Rolling your clothes is a great method to help save room in the packing process.
Stuffing your underwear into your rolled socks is also another great room-saver. To avoid having bulky and awkwardly shaped items in your suitcase, wear these bulkier items on the plane. Personally, I always wear my tennis shoes, long pants, and carry a sweater or jacket with me when I travel (if traveling to a cooler destination) so that these heavier items are being worn instead of stuffed into my suitcase.
Another option for saving room in your suitcase is purchasing vacuum-sealed bags. These can be quite nifty, the only pitfall being that once you arrive at your destination, you might not have a vacuum to seal the bags for your return home.
2. Bring your own travel size toiletry bottles + bath sponge
As someone with extremely sensitive skin, I prefer to purchase my own travel size toiletry bottles, in order to have the freedom to take my own personal toiletries.
Stores like Walmart and Target will have a section of travel size toiletries, but it will likely be slim pickings. Purchasing your own travel size toiletry bottles also allows you to re-use these bottles and omit the obligation of constantly buying new travel size toiletries.
Another essential travel item you may want to bring on your trip is a bath sponge, rag, or loofah. Though this is more of a personal preference, I can’t stand washing my body with my hands, and hotels usually don’t provide any sort of bath rag. Because it gets wet along the way, I usually carry this item in a sealed Ziploc sandwich bag.
3. Purchase an international travel adapter
Nowadays, many hotels and resorts will have their own travel adapters that you can borrow during your stay, but this isn’t always the case.
If you want to avoid the risk altogether, purchase an international travel adapter that will work in any country and take it with you everywhere.
4. Pack for the weather
Be sure to check the weather before a trip and pack accordingly. Though you can purchase items such as gloves, hats and scarves if you’re traveling to a cold destination, sometimes it’s nice to already have these things with you before arrival.
If you’re going somewhere warm, don’t forget your bathing suit and sunscreen. Believe it or not, sunscreen can be hard to come by in some places and, if you do, it can be quite expensive. Bringing your own (travel size) sunscreen is never a bad idea.
5. Remember all personal items
The most important personal items you should always remember to pack are medications, eyewear, deodorant, and feminine products (if you need them).
Forgetting medication or eyewear isn’t the worst thing that could happen while traveling, but it surely is a nuisance and will likely take a day or days out of your trip in order to replace. If you’re picky about the deodorant you wear, bring it with you. Deodorant is one of those strange items that varies greatly from country to country, so it’s best just to have your own.
In terms of feminine products, many countries don’t sell tampons and only sell pads — all of which are expensive — so women are probably better off bringing their own feminine products from home.
1. Overpacking: Less is always more
Alright, if you don’t know this already: Listen up. We promise you that less is always more in terms of packing. Whatever you’re thinking you’ll absolutely need on your upcoming trip, chances are you probably won’t.
Get rid of that huge bag of makeup, toss the extra five pairs of shoes, and leave the blowdryer at home. All of these items can be bought or borrowed from your hotel while traveling, and we promise you won’t miss them. Besides, there’s truly nothing more liberating than carrying all of your belongings in one small backpack or suitcase while traveling. If you can do it, try to pack this light.
2. The proper size liquids
This is an important one. If you’re checking a bag, you can bring whatever size liquids you may need. With that being said, you probably don’t want to pack large toiletry bottles of shampoo or conditioner because, well, it’s unnecessary. Take those small travel size toiletry bottles mentioned previously and add your own shampoo, conditioner and body wash. If you run out during your trip, you can buy more at very little cost.
For your carry on, make sure all toiletries and liquids are 100 milliliters (3 fluid ounces) or less. I learned this the hard way by having to dispose of three (expensive) regular size bottles of perfume. TSA will make you throw these items away. If you’re wondering how to get your perfume into smaller bottles, dollar and convenience stores will have travel size spray bottles for purchase, to which you can transfer liquids.
3. Leave expensive belongings at home
Another vital packing tip is to leave all expensive belongings at home, especially jewelry. My parents won’t even wear their wedding rings when vacationing anymore because my father lost his in the ocean… during his honeymoon. You don’t want this to happen to you.
Other than the risk of losing expensive personal items, they’re are usually the things that will make you a target for pick-pocketing and a victim of petty theft. Not to mention, these items usually hold sentimental value and can’t be replaced, even if stolen or lost.
4. If you forget anything (other than your passport), don’t panic
It’s never the end of the world if you forget something at home, unless, of course, you forget your passport. The majority of forgotten items can always be purchased elsewhere. Believe it or not, even third-world countries still have hygiene, clothing, and they take care of themselves, so any item you may forget will almost always be available at the destination you are headed. Even if it costs you a little extra.
We think we’ve got it covered when it comes to the dos and don’ts of packing, but if you think we left something out, contact us and let us know! Happy trails!