Bring on Your Next Trip

Saturday, December 6, 2014

How you pack plays a big role in the outcome of your trip especially if you don't make long trips very often. (If you've ever arrived at your destination only to find your suitcase splattered with the remains of a toothpaste explosion, you know this to be true.) This handy guide contains advice to help you pack like a pro as well as special pointers for anyone traveling by plane or train.


1
Make a checklist of every item you plan to take on your trip. This will include clothing, shoes, toiletries, and paperwork and possibly also maps, guidebooks, reading material, and hotel or rental car information. This checklist will also help you when packing for the trip back home as you will have a list of everything that you brought with you.
  • Commonly forgotten items include toothbrush/toothpaste, socks, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, pajamas, razor, and deodorant.
  • Never underestimate how quickly your space will fill up. Will you really need five pairs of shoes for three nights? And four coats? Consider the weather and what kinds of activities you will be doing. You might want to visit www.weatherchannel.com to check out how the weather will be at your destination.
2
Plan your outfits ahead of time to avoid over-packing. If you have a decent sense of what the weather will be like, you can be very precise. If not, bring versatile items (ex. a cardigan or light jacket that goes with several of your tops, some three-quarter-sleeve shirts, jeans that look good rolled up at the bottoms) that will allow you to adapt to changing conditions. As much as possible, bring items you can get away with re-wearing. Layering is a good way to not only disguise re-worn items, but also deal with changing weather.
  • Stretch your travel wardrobe by color-matching. If you make sure every piece of clothing you pack works with many other pieces, you can create a host of mix-and-match possibilities.
  • Bring empty plastic bags for dirty items. If you won’t have an opportunity to wash your clothes, tucking them away in a separate bag will keep you from having to mingle the clean with the dirty or sort through your stuff every time you want to change.
3
Buy travel-size containers for your toiletries, regardless of the length of your trip. This includes your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. Unless you will be in a remote location for weeks, you can always drop into a local shop to restock your supply of soap and toothpaste. If you will be flying, there might also be restrictions on the amount of liquid or gel you can bring on the plane, meaning you may find yourself forced to choose between shampoo and toothpaste while going through airport security. Go to the airline's website to check out the guidelines.
  • Put all your toiletries in a secure bag. You definitely do not want an explosion or a leak in your luggage! Oh, and again, these should be in travel sizes.
  • If you will be staying at a hotel after your arrival, you can completely skip the shampoo and conditioner and simply use what the hotel provides. (You can buy other necessities at the destination such as toothpaste.)
4
If you will be going through customs, check your luggage prior to packing.Ensure that it is completely empty (especially if the luggage is not yours), because as soon as you're in security check, no one is responsible for its contents except you. Usually, suitcases have hidden zippers along the center or side. Open these and give it a good once-over. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  • If you will be crossing borders, consider using tamper-evident products to seal your case so you can check if your luggage arrives without being breached before you go on to clear customs.
5
Place heavy items at the bottom of your bag, especially if it is an upright model. Struggling with a rolling luggage that twists and flips in every gentle turn and falls over when you let it go is no way to move around.
  • As you pack your luggage, check items off your list. Be thorough; you don’t want to have to dismantle your entire bag in a panic to find out whether or not you’ve taken care of something.
6
Pack clothing using the time-honored "roll" technique. Lay two or three items on top of one another, smooth to flatten, and roll them up like you would a sleeping bag to save space and prevent wrinkles. For added wrinkle insurance, place a sheet of heavy tissue or packing paper between items of clothing before rolling. Don't worry about wrinkle-prone garments; most hotel/motel/inn rooms have an iron and board in the closet for your needs, not to mention a hotel laundry service.

7
Pack sweaters, jackets, and underwear in reusable compression bags, which can create up to 75% more space in your luggage. These lock in odors, so they also work for storing dirty laundry. Compression bags work very well. Ziploc sells these. What you have to do is place the item inside, close the bag, and put the included air pump over a little one-way hole. Suck out the air with the pump. It's that easy.

8
Place breakable items, like jewelry or glass, wrapped in socks and tucked into shoes inside your luggage. This ensures ultimate safety.

9
Buy wide clip rings. Available at major supermarkets like Target or Walmart, these look like shower curtain rings, and can be opened and then clipped onto something to connect it. Clip important things like the passport baggie onto your hand bag or carry-on and clip that to your suitcase. Big bulky bags that you must let go of while tending to other concerns are an obvious target for thieves. Keep paperwork, identification, money, and expensive items slung over your shoulder or even hidden on your body (you can buy under-clothing pouches for slim items) depending on the safety of the location. However, don’t hide anything you will need immediately.

10
Bring snacks in case you get hungry. Bring light snacks for quick trips or places where you can purchase meals and heartier ones for long bus/plane/train/car rides. If you have allergies or conditions that call for certain foods (e.g. gluten-free or nut-free) and won’t have many options while traveling (planes that offer meals usually cater to this), bring more 
filling snacks.


11
Bring entertainment in case you get bored. Diaries (and pens), travel-size games, decks of cards, books, and mobile devices are huge boredom-killers during long rides.

12
Remember that trips are meant for fun and rest, not stress! Don't fret too much over organizing and planning. If it gets too stressing for you, have a traveling agency plan your voyage. Sites like tripadvisor.com or seatguru.com can help you find reviews of places, hotels, restaurants, and airlines as well as good seats and hot deals.

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