Packing for a trip is something that even the most experienced travelers sometimes stress about. You don't want to fly halfway around the world only to discover you forgot to pack any pants, you misplaced that medication for your husband, and you have no idea how many pairs of shoes is "too many."
No matter how many trips you've been on, there are always a few tips that can make your packing go smoother.
Roll, Don't Fold
Rolling your clothes before you put them in the suitcase instead of folding everything will save you tons of space. Rolling also prevents your clothes from getting as creased or wrinkled while packed in your bag.
Dryer Sheets Are Great For Pretending Your Clothes Are Clean
On longer trips where you're going to be re-wearing your clothing, pack a couple of dryer sheets in between the layers to keep everything smelling clean and fresh (even if it isn't).
Make A List And Check It Twice
Having a mental checklist while packing is great, but the way to guarantee you don't forget anything important like socks and underwear is to make a physical packing list. Write down everything you need and check things off as you put them in your bag.
A Week's Worth Of Clothing Is All You Need
No matter how long your trip is, you don't need more than a week's worth of clothing. You wear the same clothing every week in your regular life, that's what laundry is for! You don't need 17 shirts for a two-week trip.
Pack An Extra Tote Bag
Stuff an extra tote bag or reusable bag into one of the pockets of your suitcase for when you're coming home and you can't fit all your souvenirs in your bag. It can also come in handy when your suitcase is a few pounds over the weight limit at the airport.
Pack Your Shoes, And Then Take Away A Pair Or Two
No one is going to care if all of your photos from your trip show you wearing the same pair of sandals. Don't fall into the trap of bringing five pairs of shoes for a four-day trip. You only need to bring one pair of each kind of shoe, and limit your packing to two or three pairs maximum.
Bring A Light Scarf, No Matter What Kind Of Trip You're Taking
You're never going to regret tossing a light-weight scarf into your bag at the last minute. It can be used to keep yourself warm while you're out to dinner on a cool night or to help you get cozy so you can sleep on the plane.
Packing Cubes Are Your Friend
Even if you don't want to invest in actual packing cubes, using something like Ziploc freezer bags to separate your clothing will save you from ripping apart your suitcase every time you're digging through your bag trying to find clothing.
Embrace Hotel Toiletries
Having your own shampoo and conditioner on a trip is nice, but do you really need to take a full bottle of shampoo with you? You know that your hotel is going to have toiletries for you, so you don't need to bring your entire shower's contents with you.
Separate Your Liquids
It may have never happened to you before so you think it's okay to toss your liquids in with everything else, but the one time you do will be the time that something leaks. If the only thing you choose to do is pack your liquids properly, you won't regret it.
Always Bring Plastic Bags
Stuff them in your shoes, shove one into the suitcase's front pocket—it doesn't matter where you put them as long as you have at least one plastic bag with you. Your swimsuit didn't fully dry the night before and now you need to pack it in your suitcase? Pop it in a plastic bag first! Your shoes are muddy and you don't want them to ruin everything else? Good thing you brought that bag with you.
Make An Itinerary
Having an itinerary for your trip means that you know what you're doing every day, so you don't have to waste your time packing for the "what ifs." You know what activities you're doing or how much walking you'll be doing on any given day, and you can pack accordingly.
Choose The Right Bag
You might have a trusty suitcase that you take on all your business trips, but is it practical to take on a weekend away with your friends? Consider what kind of travel you'll be doing. Do you have to walk long distances so a bag with straps might make more sense? Or are you going directly from the airport to a taxi and you're happy to pull your suitcase along?
Pack An Extra Outfit In Your Carry-On
At the very least, pack an extra T-shirt and a change of underwear. If your luggage gets lost and you're stuck in the clothes that you traveled in, you'll be happy to have that change of clothes, and it won't add much weight to your bag.
Your Bag Shouldn't Be Bursting At The Seams
If you need to get someone to sit on your bag in order to zip it up, you've done something wrong. Upgrade to a bigger bag or get rid of that extra hoody you convinced yourself you'd definitely need on your tropical vacation.
Bring Your Most Versatile Clothing
You want to look nice for all those pictures you're going to take on your trip, but you don't need to waste space in your suitcase packing that pair of pants you're only comfortable in if you don't have to sit down. Pack clothing that goes well with lots of other items and that you're comfortable in.
Wear Your Bulkiest Clothing On Your Travel Days
The easiest way to save space when packing is to wear your bulkiest clothing on your travel days. Wear that cozy sweat suit on the plane so you're comfortable and you're not stuck lugging around that extra weight in your bag.
Pack The Biggest Items First
Items like jeans or sweaters should always be packed into the bottom of your bag. Save things like rolled up socks and underwear for last so you can stuff them into the little crevices left over.
Think About What Items You're Going To Wear First
Rather than tearing apart your suitcase while trying to find that sundress you bought to wear the first night of your trip, pack it right on top so you have easy access.
Bring A Reusable Water Bottle
You can pack it in your suitcase or in your carry-on as long as you empty it before you go through security. Having a water bottle with you on your trip will save you time and money in the long run because you won't have to buy plastic water bottles every time you get thirsty.