Travel Tips: Packing

Now that autumn is making itself known, I’m starting to feel the effects of a summer that went by too quickly. Although I squeezed in a few fun summer day and weekend trips here and there, I didn’t have time to do much extensive traveling due to numerous commitments. Some friends and family are beginning to head off for their fall travels, but unfortunately I’m not among them. I’m working on saving money and planning ahead for the two trips I’ve slated for spring 2010 to India and, hopefully, the west coast again with Brian.

Pairing my already-setting-in cabin fever with several friends (who I equipped with ‘don’t miss’ travel recommendations, maps/travel guides and Euro-friendly adapters) recently returning from Europe, it’s no surprise my travel bug is overly excitable or that I perked up at coming across an article on Cnn.com about packing for travel in Europe.

Although the author has some excellent advice on packing light through methods I’ve also employed (i.e. wearing thin layers, taking only the shoes on your feet, washing clothes in your hostel/hotel and rewearing them, etc.), I have a few additional packing tips for light travel.

Packing Tips for Traveling Light

During my trips to Europe, Asia and Africa, I’ve always taken a small personal suitcase that could easily pass as a carry-on in size and weight. With all of the connecting flights and possible scenarios that could lead to lost luggage, I try to pack light and tight so my bag stays with me. Traveling light not only ensures you have your luggage when you arrive, it can also save you money otherwise spent on checked baggage and it can ease your travel by not weighing you down as you move from destination to destination. I’ve spent a number of nights in 10-person hostel rooms and six-person bunk rooms on sleeper cars, and having luggage that I could hoist up into my bunk for me to sleep beside gave me additional peace-of-mind about the security of my belongings.

In addition to packing light, I also pack for the items I don’t take with me on the trip– the things I know I’ll purchase, like souvenirs for family and friends. I always take a suitcase with an extender, knowing that if I can pack everything without opening the extension, I’ll have some room for additional items when I pack for my return trip home.

To create additional room, I also throw away things as I go along. Rather than packing light and washing items throughout the trip, I save old socks and undergarments throughout the year that I would otherwise throw away and take those along on my trips. Then at the end of each day of travel, I just throw them away, ridding myself of apparel I would have disposed of anyway while creating more and more space in my luggage. I don’t have the hassle of washing anything during my trip, and I don’t have to worry about packing dirty laundry that I’ll have to handle when I get home.

Anymore, I feel like I can pack for my international trips without planning much in advance, no matter the climate, season or cultural influences. Packing for road trips in the U.S.? Something I’m still working on. It’s hard for me to keep it light when I know I have the space of a whole trunk and back seat at my disposal.

Guess I just need a little more practice…

4 thoughts on “Travel Tips: Packing

  1. Katie

    Heather,

    You forgot the biggest and most important part of the traveling light. In a ziplock gallon bag, pack your most comfy traveling outfit. Don’t forget to throw in a fabric sheet and place this bag in the outer pocket of your luggage. That way when you shower right before your trip home you get to put on clean and great smelling clothes to make your trip home wonderful, and you don’t have to worry about digging for clean pj’s when you get home but crawl into bed and worry about the unpack tomorrow!

    1. Hi Katie,

      You’re right, that is an incredibly important part. I need to do a follow up post because I also realized I didn’t include anything about having the deoderant/toothbrush and paste/facewash/contact solution handy for the airport bathroom when you land after your 12-hour flight. Having those handy for a quick clean-up makes you feel like a new person too. I’m sure you have more good tips from your travels, so throw them my way!

      Heather

  2. I don’t know If I said it already but …Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! :) I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

    1. Hi JimmyBean,

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment! I’m just getting started so I appreciate the kind words and especially your mention about substance. I’ll continue to do my best to make sure there’s some meat to my posts.

      All the best,
      Heather

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