I am amazed at how many travelers agonize over packing. Men! Women! Children! Teenagers! Why is packing such a struggle? How can we make it easier?
Some travel experts will tell you that certain accessories will change your life. There certainly are a lot of travel accessories on the market these day. Should you use packing folders? Compression bags? Packing cubes?
Honestly, I’ve seen a lot of posts about the pros and cons of all of these. Just google these phrases and read for yourself. I think the answer lies with your personality. Some people, like my mother, are never going to be organized no matter how many organizational products they buy. Other folks, like my aunt, will always be organized without any assistance. The rest of us probably fall into middle ground, meaning we could benefit from an organizational aid. But which one is the question?
I will let you in on a secret. I’m going to share what I’ve been using for years. Ready?
Freezer bags. Go to the grocery store and buy a couple of boxes of zippered freezer bags. They come in all sizes from quart to two-gallon. I use the quart bags for smaller items like books and snacks and I use the bigger bags for clothing. I put my bathing suit, shower shoes, and cover up in one two-gallon freezer bag. I put my token dressy outfit in one bag along with any accessories such as costume jewelry, scarf or belt. I put daily ensembles in separate bags so that I don’t have to think or search. I simply pull out that day’s bag complete with underwear and socks. Shoes go in separate bags (except for shower shoes with bathing suit). And so on and so forth. For about $6 I have all the bags I need and they compress pretty good when you let the air out of the bag before sealing it. They are also waterproof and great space savers as they can be stacked and dozens of bags will go into one carry-on size piece of luggage. I can fit everything I need for one week into my carry-on using this method. A larger-sized checked bag will hold 2-3 weeks worth of clothing and essentials.
No matter what method you use you should pack as if you’ll have to carry this stuff on your back throughout your trip. In other words, pack light! You don’t need three pairs of pants for a one week trip. Two pairs is plenty. You don’t need seven shirts for one week. Four shirts is plenty. You don’t need four pairs of shoes. You only need one pair of good walking shoes for most trips. You may need a pair of dress shoes if going on a cruise or such. You may also need special shoes (boots or gaiters) if going hiking or trekking. Never pack your jacket/coat. Always carry it with you in case your luggage gets lost. You can do without a lot of stuff but a coat can be invaluable. Pack stuff that doesn’t wrinkle and doesn’t show dirt. Pack things you can mix and match to create more outfits.
Also, be sure to always keep your valuables with you (money, documents, medications, camera, etc). Never put your carry on bag in a bin where you cannot see it. I have seen folks stow their bag in the first bin they find when they board the plane and then go fifteen rows back to their seat. Bad idea! If you have a medical condition you should have a note from your doctor if you have diabetic needles or any conditions that might require special service/transport.
Never leave your luggage unattended.
Be sure you have camera batteries and cables and converters or adapters, if needed.
Do a little research to make sure what is appropriate. In some places, women are not allowed to wear sleeveless tops or sundresses. In some places, shorts are not acceptable. In some places, sneakers are not allowed. Be mindful of t-shirts with images or text that may not be appropriate in certain parts of the world. This same research will clue you in on what type of clothing you need. It may be winter in that part of that world when it is summer here. Or it may be their rainy season.
Be sure you keep contact information with you in case your guide or driver does not meet you or your flight is delayed, etc. Be sure to check your documents whenever you finish with an airline rep or customer service rep. On occasion they may tear out two tickets by accident and then you have no ticket for your next leg/flight.
Don’t pack valuables. Leave expensive shoes and sunglasses and jewelry and electronics at home. If you must bring with you be sure to keep on your person or in the hotel safe or such. My suggestion is not to take anything that can’t be replaced. Things tend to get lost, stolen, or damaged in transit.
Economize whenever possible. I use a face wash that doubles as a body wash that can also be used to wash socks. I use a shampoo with conditioner. If you’re going to a resort or on a cruise or something similar toiletries will be readily available so you don’t even need to pack them. Take a jacket/coat that is waterproof so it can double as a raincoat. A bathing suit cover up can also double as a robe. Shower shoes/flip flops can be worn in places where you don’t want to walk barefoot. I try not to walk barefoot anywhere these days except on the beach or my backyard!
My advice is to put everything you think you need on the bed or table and then scrutinize carefully. Do you really need all of that? Be brutal. Lose it if you’re not absolutely sure you’ll need it. Packing light is the way to pack right! Organization’s only part of it. The less you take the less you have to organize. It’s also less you have to keep up with…
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