Whether you travel frequently or only occasionally, for business or pleasure, it probably seems that you usually pack the same items every time. Here are some packing tips to help simplify the process so that you don't have to stress about it every time you travel. When you travel you have enough things to worry about without having to think about packing.
Always travel light but travel smart! Keep in mind that most of the items that you'll need can be purchased while you're traveling, but you needn't spend your vacation money buying things you already have at home. And if you're traveling on business, you probably won't have time to run to the store for something you'll need for a 9AM meeting.
After reviewing these ideas, you might want to make an
itemized list of all of the things that you really must take with you when you travel. Keep the list in your suitcase so it will be available every time you pack. Use it as a checklist to make sure you haven't forgotten anything that you'll need on your vacation.
If additional items come to mind while you're traveling, add them to your list for next time, but be sure to return it to your suitcase. That way you'll have it ready to use the next time you travel.
Rule #1 for me is to travel light. I traveled to Brazil for ten
days with only a backpack and carry-on bag. My husband
packed a rolling bag that was pretty large and it was difficult to manage when we roomed in hotels that didn't have elevators.
I never pack more than I can easily carry by myself and I try to leave a little extra room for the inevitable vacation purchases. I use a nylon carry-on bag that zips up into a small square. It comes in handy for carrying vacation items home if I get too carried away while I'm traveling.
Here are 14 packing tips for efficient traveling:
Every trip I take ends up challenging me to pack even better for the next time I travel. I learn what's important to take and what isn't. Having a thorough list available as you pack for each trip helps you pack and feel confident that you haven't forgotten anything that you'll need during your travels.
- Pajamas or gown - I have a pair of pajamas that I keep pre-packed in my suitcase. That way I don't forget them when I'm preparing to travel. I prefer to take pajamas instead of a gown because hotels are usually cold. And if I'm staying
with family or friends, I want to be able to get up and go to the bathroom without having to put on a robe.
- Underwear - Pack a pair for every day of travel and then include a few extras. If you're going to be participating in activities that will require showering and changing clothes during the day, be sure to include enough underwear for that.
- Make up and toiletries - To keep from having to remember what to take every time you travel, go through your beauty routine at home and set out the things you use each day. Refill your sample jars from trial offers, or buy travel-size containers to pack your essential items in.
Don't forget your shaving supplies and deodorant. I keep a razor in my travel bag all the time and simply put in a new blade when I'm ready to travel again. Keep your toiletry bag well stocked and pre-pack it in your suitcase for the next trip. Be sure to verify that you don't need to refill any of the containers.
- Tooth care - Instead of wasting money on a travel size tube of toothpaste, when I get near the bottom of a regular size tube, I stop using it and place it in my toiletry bag. I also pack the dental floss and toothbrush the dentist gives me for free. This ensures that I'm ready to travel on a moment's notice.
- Medications - I have a pill box that holds enough medications for an entire week. My trips are usually not that long, so I'll put in what I need for each day and use the extra slots for aspirin or other things I might need while traveling. I place my vitamins in another pill box.
- Clothes - After taking the weather into account, I pull
clothes out and place them on the bed. I prefer dark colors because spills aren't quite so obvious as they are on light colors! That way I can travel without having to take along several sets of extra clothing.
I take pants that will be interchangeable with several different shirts. In trying to travel light, I may wear a pair of black pants more than once, but a shirt only once! If you're traveling to a cool climate, be sure to bring things to layer. It will take up a lot less room than bulkier items. Try things on before you go! If you haven't worn something in quite some time, it may not fit the way it used to.
- Accessories - Make sure you have belts that match every outfit. You'll only need one belt if you've packed color coordinated items. Keep your jewelry to a minimum while you're traveling.
- Shoes - Make sure that your shoes are comfortable and fit well! You shouldn't go buy a brand new pair of shoes and attempt to break them in while you're traveling. I plan my travel wardrobe so that I only need to take one or two pair of shoes.
- Vacation gear - Don't forget about your swimsuit, cover-up, and flip-flops (they used to be called thongs but now that has an entirely different meaning!). My husband usually forgets his swim trunks and I accuse him of just wanting to purchase a new pair every time we travel!
- Hair care products - I have short hair that quickly air-drys on its own in the summer. But I take a travel hair dryer with me if I'll be staying in a hotel that doesn't have one available in the room. I also keep a hair brush in my travel bag. I condense large bottles of shampoo and conditioner into smaller ones for easy traveling.
- Electronic items - Neither cell phones or computers are very useful if the batteries are weak. Make sure you take the power cords with you and remember to recharge the batteries every night. The same thing goes for your camera.
- Backpack - I always travel with a backpack for things to entertain myself on the plane or in the car. A week or so before I plan to leave home, I pull the backpack out. As I think of things I'll want to take with me, I throw them in the backpack and then repack it before I leave.
It seems like it's always very heavy traveling to my destination, but lighter coming home because I'm tired and try to pack more of those items in my suitcase. I always carry something to read, a bottle of drinking water, and a tasty snack.
I place all travel documents in the outside pocket so they are easily and quickly accessible. Don't pack your manicure tools because they aren't allowed on planes and they'll be taken away from you.
- Purse - I never carry a purse with me when traveling. Instead, I condense
everything into a small fanny pack and put anything else that I'll need in the backpack. If I'm traveling with a lot of cash, I use a money pouch that hangs around my neck and is worn
underneath my shirt. And I never carry all of my money in one place.
- Maps and other items - Before I travel to a new place, I do some
research and get driving directions from the
airport. I search for any information on that area that might be of
interest to me and my family or traveling party. I always take along a small sewing kit and some safety pins, as well as basic first
Joyce Moseley Pierce is a freelance writer
and the owner of Emerson Publications.
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