Love travelling? Who doesn’t?! Getting away for a few days (or weeks, if you’re lucky) is something we all crave every now and then. But with the great excitement of travelling, there comes the horror of packing.
I never enjoyed packing, to be honest. It’s probably related to the fact that I’m a woman and we are notorious for not knowing exactly what we want. 🙂
Anyway, practice makes perfect and as I am getting ready to leave for yet another AIESEC conference, I thought that it’s about time to talk about packing stuff efficiently. I decided to split the subject into two parts:
- tips and tricks for packing the basic things that we all need (but more for ladies);
- tips and tricks for packing the rest of your luggage and how not to overwhelm your baggage;
We all know that it is annoying and exhausting to pack for a trip and it can end up being a complete waste of time if you don’t do it right. Let’s see what you can do to stop this!
Aaand… we will start to talk about toiletries. Why? Because I’m a girl and I know how hard it is to choose which of your useful and favourite products will be lucky enough to travel with you and how annoying is to discover that you overpacked and you actually had space for something else that was more useful.
Rely on the hotel
All hotels and now almost all decent Airbnbs offer a welcome pack of toiletries. You’ll most probably get shampoo, conditioner and body wash for free.
Make sure you check the list of amenities they offer and if they are not displayed or too easy to find, drop them an e-mail about it.
If you’re like me and you need to use certain products for skin conditions, then you’ll have to pack your own products.
When I first started to travel, I was an idiot and I was taking the whole bottle of body wash with me. You can judge me – I am. There is definitely no advantage of taking the whole container with you: it’s heavy, big and you’ll not use it all.
To avoid the waste of space and for an extra lighter baggage, add your products in smaller containers:
- you can re-use old small containers – if you have any
- buy some of the ‘TSA approved’ containers that are usually below 100 mls and spill-safe
Buy on Location
This trick works very well for vacations are are longer that a week or two.
Instead of taking all toiletries from home buy them from the local stores. Furthermore, this works as a charm if you travel with more people.
Related: 5 Tips that Will Make Packing Easier
So let’s say you’re on a 2-week vacation with another couple. That makes four people. You can buy basic things like toothpaste or body wash from a local supermarket. In this way you don’t have to take any of these with you and you don’t have to take them back because they’ll most probably be empty. Of course, make sure that your travel companions are ok with this. But you save money, space and some weight.
Ready-to-go Toiletry Bag
Another thing that you can do to save you some time, is to have a toiletry bag always ready to go. Put your tiny products that you know you always need in the toiletry bag and when you are packing just check to see if you need to add something else. This tip is useful if you travel pretty often like I do for AIESEC conferences.
This tip saves some time and stress.
Make Them Solid
Another very annoying problem with toiletries is that they can spill. And let’s face it, no one wants to find his clothes full or body wash or have that very expensive face serum, spilt all over the place.
A really good trick to get rid of TSA rules and get some extra space for other liquids is to take some solid toiletries. There are a lot of them nowadays: toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner bars, deodorants, perfume – you name it.
If you like using them (I swear by Lush’s bar shampoos and conditioners) take them with you and you’ll know there won’t be anything to spill in your bag.
I have a small tin container that it’s basically my go-to “emergency kit”.
In an emergency kit, you should have pills, tampons and bandages and anything you know might come on hand. Sickness motion pills are another good idea if you know you suffer from it.
I know that sometimes I get a very mild indigestion because of milk, so I will always take pills for that with me. No one want to have his vacation ruined by a sudden cold or headache, so pack a few of those too. Travelling involved quite a lot of walking, so have some bandages for blisters.
Similar to the go-to toiletry bad, keep this small emergency kit next to it, so you don’t have to pack it every single time.
My last tip about this is to check the validity date of the pills before each travel and replace those who need replacing.
After you have your healthcare and beauty products packed and ready to go, you have to put other basic items in your luggage.
No matter where we go, we’ll always pack:
Depending on each person and the season, the list might be longer or shorter.
After I’m done with toiletries, these basic clothing items are next on my list.
To make sure you don’t over-pack, do this:
- add a pair for each travel day, plus a spare just in case
- if you know you won’t wear socks each day (because you’ll wear sandals more, for example) pack less, but always pack a spare
Packing Clothes and Outfits
This is probably the part that makes your luggage stuffed with shit tons of things.
Let’s talk about over thinking and over packing.
What I have noticed I do when I pack for travelling, is that I believe that while on a holiday or trip I will turn into a completely different person who’ll use moisturisers for each part of the body, will wear at least two fancy outfits each day and so on.
Let’s face it. You’re all picturing this, but it never happens. You won’t change, you’ll still wear the same things as you would usually do.
How to Avoid over Thinking?
Well, is simple. Count and be honest.
Count the days and the nights that you are going to be away. Are you going to stay for 4 days and 3 nights? Good. So you will need 4 outfits for the day and maybe 3 for the nights if you plan to go out every night.
But let’s face it, you probably won’t need that many. Count the day and plan the outfits, then cut the number in half and try to mix and match outfits. Some pieces of clothing can be worn more than once.
It is fine to have a back-up plan: what if it is going to rain? You can check the weather for the next days, but an umbrella won’t hurt anyone. I always take an extra outfit with me for rainy/cold days. Don’t pack more than you need. It is your trip so you know what you want to do and what kind of clothes you will need.
Check the Amenities
If you are renting a house or apartment, check if they have a washing machine or if a cleaning service is available.
Being able to wash your clothes on location is a totally game changer! Even if it’s for a small fee, you should totally go for it.
You can wash your clothes every couple of days and have them fresh and ready to go.
How to Pack Clothes
This is an endless problem. How can I pack my clothes without getting wrinkles or how can I make everything fit in my carry-on? To fix wrinkles, you can use a hairdryer. I tested the method and it works; here is a video about this method.
Military style inspired packing can also do wonders. If you roll tight enough, your t-shirts and jeans will pack easy and wrinkle-free. Because I know how important is to us to be alway fabulous, ladies… the video below is for you.
Depending on how much you pack, rolling or folding will be your go-to method of packing. I usually fold my clothes because I don’t have that many.
Carry-on or luggage?
I am team carry-on. Always and forever.
Unless you’re travelling with children, there’s no excuse to not pack light.
Related: Why You Should Always Pack Light
It is your choice what kind of carry-on you will use. I like wheeled carry-ons because they are easy to carry and to pack. And if you are travelling by plane, they can be lifesavers. It is up to you and your needs what type of carry-on you want to use.
I’ve recently discovered the Osprey backpacks and how my forest green backpack is my go-to option. It’s not that easy as with a 4-wheel carry on, but the extra trick here is that you’ll get to take it on the plane with you. Usually low-cost companies might not let you even with a small carry-on on board, but with a backpack…
This is what I’ve discovered so far about packing efficiently. Of course, it’s an ongoing process and when I’ll come across new tips and trick for packing, I’ll update this article for sure.
Do you have any favourite tips and trick for packing? Please share them in the comments down below!
Originally published on 7th January 2015