Recently I was going through my check list for my upcoming spring break trip to Iceland, and I was reminded how tedious and occasionally stressful packing for vacation can be. Be it a weekend trip to a summer long stay, making sure you have all the essentials for your vacation is crucial but sometimes tricky. From meeting baggage weight requirements to fitting in all of your favorite outfits, packing can be time consuming and quite a process.
That being said, I wanted to share all the “packing secrets” I’ve discovered over the years in hopes that it can help lessen the stressfulness that others may encounter while going through their own packing check list.
Less is truly more when it comes to packing for any kind of vacation. I can’t tell you how many times I have overpacked and regretted it. Lugging all the heavy baggage around at the airport and finding a large enough space to store it in your room really becomes a nuisance quick. Here are a few pointers on how I avoid overpacking:
- Make a list. A check list can be super beneficial to keep you from overpacking as well as just remembering everything you need on your trip. Let’s just say forgetting underwear on your vacation can be a real downer!
- Only take 2 pairs of shoes. One pair should be comfy and durable, such as a broke in pair of sneakers, hiking boots, or any shoe with good arch support. The other pair can be of your choosing. I usually reach for a cute pair of heeled booties to wear out at night or a nice pair of sandals.
- You can wear your shirts more than once. I can’t count how many times I have packed clothes and not touched them until I returned home. Moral of the story here is that you can always wear your clothes multiple times, especially jeans and shorts.
- It is okay to pack extra underwear. If there is one thing you shouldn’t downsize when packing, it’s clean underwear and socks. You never know what will happen during your travels so it’s always nice to have a couple spare pairs of your basics.
2. Go under the baggage weight limit
Bouncing off of the topic of not overpacking, keep in mind that a weight limit doesn’t mean your bag has to weigh that amount precisely. Typically the weight limit for checked bags on airlines is 50 pounds so it’s always a good idea to keep your luggage weight at around 45 pounds. Keeping it slightly below allows you to have flex room when you’re returning home because people usually purchase souvenirs while on vacation. You can also pack lightly in your carry on and if you do go over the weight limit on the trip home you can use your carry on as “overflow” for any extra items that you pick up. This tip is only useful if you are traveling by air, but it can be applied to other forms of travel if you are trying to keep your luggage light!
3. Buy it there
People seldom realize that many of the items taking up space in their luggage can actually be purchased once they reach their destination. Personal hygiene products are often amongst the heaviest things travel-goers pack and few people realize the amount of space they are wasting. The items I recommend purchasing rather than packing can be classified as “cheap buys” and include:
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Body Wash
- Soap & Razor
- Flip flops
- Face, Body & Beach Towels
Now please keep in mind this tip is directed more towards people traveling on longer vacations (2+ weeks) rather than short week long or weekend trips.
4. Roll it & zip it
Space always ends up being limited when packing so efficently placing your belongings into your luggage is a must. A method I have used for a long time is rolling my clothes (so they look like burritos) and packing them tightly together. This allows you to fit more into your suitcase or duffel bag, especially if you are taking a lot of pants with you. This style of packing helped me tremendously over the summer when I was flying cheap airlines in Europe that only allowed one carry on bag.
Another piece of advice is to place all of your liquid items in zip locks if they are in your checked bag! I know airport security requires zip locks for liquids in carry ons, but just make a habit of always placing liquids in zip locks while you are traveling. I learned the hard way when I went to Las Vegas for the weekend with my parents and my shampoo bottle leaked all over my clothes. Sadly I was forced to wear Vegas T-shirts the entire trip, so believe me when I say beware of liquids!
5. Do your research
If there is one thing you take away from this post, please let it be this: RESEARCH! It’s extremely important to know the area you are traveling to and what to expect when you get there. Things to make sure you look into prior to packing for you trip include:
- Be knowledgable about the culture. You don’t have to know everything but it’s helpful to be familiar with lifestyle and cultural norms of a country or city. Before I went to London this summer, I looked up a couple articles about how England and America differed which gave me a heads up of what to expect when I arrived!
- Look up the weather. Believe it not, you may be surprised by how the weather can vary in certain countries. England in the summer, for example, can be sunny & warm one day and gloomy & rainy the next.
- Always keep safety in mind. This seems like a no brainer, but believe it or not the world is not as safe as you think. It’s a good idea to look up any political tensions going on in the area you are visiting or war related threats. You can’t predict terrible events before they happen so it’s important to stay alert no matter where you travel!