How to choose what to pack:
- Limit the amount of stuff you bring. Going on vacation should be fun and relaxing so limiting the amount of stuff you bring can only help to add to your enjoyment. Your trip will be more pleasant if you don’t have to lug around huge suitcases and you’ll have less laundry to do when you get home. Do you really need that third sweater in case it gets cool in the evening? A light jacket would be a wiser choice. Ask yourself if you really need all those outfits and toiletries before putting them in your suitcase. Choose wisely.
- Sticking to color coordinated outfits is a good rule of thumb to limit the amount of stuff you bring. Create a new look by mixing and matching (or layering) different items. Don’t bring that top you love if it doesn’t go with more than one thing. Leave it at home.
- The more I travel the less I bring and I always have clean clothes to wear. Unless I need to bring my scuba diving equipment, I prefer to travel with just my carry-on. The art of packing efficiently is acquired with experience (and some trial and error). For example, white pants or shorts get dirty quickly and become unwearable and take precious space in your luggage. Instead, stick to dark colors when it comes to choosing pants and shorts. Jeans are ideal as they can endure a lot and will not look dirty or baggy after wearing them for a day. This isn’t the case for light colors, cotton or linen pants.
- Prepare your clothes in day pouches or multi-day pouches in your luggage. We recently heard of a traveler that planned exactly what she would wear each day of the trip and put her clothes into plastic zip-lock bags for each day and labeled them. This certainly avoids messing up ones luggage especially for itineraries where you may be moving between multiple hotels. We use packing cubes, which allow us to group clothes together (and later these double for dirty laundry storage in a compact form). While we usually don’t plan our luggage contents daily, we do plan around the destination to save on having to undo and redo our luggage at each location.
- Rolling your clothes helps to avoid wrinkles and takes less room. Ever since, I’ve been rolling my clothes and organizing them into packing cubes, I’ve been able to travel for almost 2 weeks using only a carry-on. It’s amazing the amount of stuff I can pack in there and I don’t usually run out of things to wear but just in case, I always bring some easy wash and quick dry clothes. As a bonus, there is no way my luggage will be delayed or worse, lost when I only have a carry-on!
- Packing folders are great to keep shirts and dress pants wrinkle free. These items tend to crease during transportation when they shuffle around in your suitcase. Packing folders will prevent your shirts and dress pants from moving around and these will not need to get pressed at your destination. Also, no bulky garment bag will be needed; packing folders fit in a carry-on and can also be used in a duffle.
- Choose lightweight fabrics to maximize your luggage space and keep the weight down. For example, instead of bringing a heavy leather jacket, choose a lightweight compressible duvet coat as these can be easily stored in your carry-on.
- Replaced the stuffing from your travel pillow with a duvet jacket or a sweater to save on packing space. You can also store a hat, gloves, headphones, earplugs and eye mask in it.
- Packing bulky items in compression bags will extend your luggage space. If traveling to a cold destination and sweaters are needed, pack them in a compression bag so they take minimal space in your suitcase or carry-on. A thin cashmere or merino wool sweater will take less space and it will keep you warm. It’s a versatile item that can be dressed up or down, therefore a good choice. Compression bags can also be used to bring back your dirty laundry and this will give you extra space for souvenirs.
- For extra warmth, add a layer. Wearing a T-Shirt under a sweater is a good idea if you’re out sightseeing all day. It will help keep you warm in the early morning hours and later when it warms-up you won’t have to keep your sweater on. Bringing a light waterproof jacket will be handy if it starts to rain or if the wind picks up. It will help to keep you dry and warm.
- Pack proper clothes for the type of trip you’re taking. The content of my suitcase differs with the type of trip I’m taking. For example, if going on a safari, an exploration trip or to a beach resort, no fancy outfits, dressy shoes or bags will be needed. So leave them at home.
- Remember that blue attracts Tsetse flies and dark colors attract other mosquitoes. If going to Africa, don’t get those blue safari clothes, stick to the traditional green or beige. Blue attracts Tsetse flies, which are like horseflies on steroids wearing armor, hard to kill and with a wicked bite. They can also cause the sleeping disease.
- Avoid packing large size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotions and other toiletries. These products weight a lot and there’s no need for such a large quantity. Instead bring travel size bottles, samples or better yet a solid version that can be purchases at pharmacies and various retailers. Remove excess weight by choosing make-up wipes, wet wipe and nail remover wipes instead of their liquid form. This can also avoid spills in your suitcase.
- Pack your liquid toiletries in zip-lock bags to avoid spills. If travelling only with a carry-on, follow the TSA regulations.
- Leave your expensive and fancy jewelry at home or better yet at the safety deposit box. That’s the best way to avoid loosing them or attracting the wrong kind of attention on your trip. If you must wear jewelry to complement an outfit, stick to costume jewelry or drape a nice scarf over your shoulders or neck. This will enhance your outfit and keep you warmer in any chilly air-conditioned places as well!
Have a look at my packing list: Printable Packing List