April 20 2010 by Claudia Kunkel
If you've traveled at all recently, then you must know the challenges we all face trying to pack your suitcase to: a. avoid paying baggage fees, b. stay under the 50 lb. weight limit, c. not pack anything that causes you to be pulled aside and have your personal belongings rifled through (yes, it is sometimes embarrassing). I could go on and on and on, but I think you get the idea. Traveling has become more and more difficult with the increased security measures that are well intentioned and put in place to keep us all safe. I should add that my goal when traveling is to only pack what I can carry on the plane with me. Easy on, easy off.
I consider myself fairly well traveled and I still struggle every single time with "what to pack"! I really thought after all this time I would have it down to a science, but every time I pull out my luggage and start packing, I agonize and rethink every piece of clothing that goes into that bag.
Yes, I do start planning well ahead of time; consider my travel destination, the weather, the culture, length of travel and type of vacation I'm taking. So, over the years, here is what I finally have put together as my list of helpful hints when packing for your next vacation:
- Starting with the obvious, you will need your travel itinerary along with your passport, airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rental reservations, health related documents and contact information all securely tucked away in a safe place along with copies that are carried in a separate place from the originals. It is also a good idea to make additional copies and leave at home where a relative or friend can find them in case of an emergency.
- Pack nutritional, healthy snacks to munch on during the long flights as well as a water bottle or two especially since most airlines are now charging for EVERYTHING. Keep in mind that you must buy your water bottles AFTER you pass security, not before. I usually try to pack nuts, granola bars, dried fruit and gum. I also pack along those immunity packets to drop into my water bottle for a little extra vitamin protection on the airplane. You will feel much better at the end of your trip if you keep yourself well hydrated on water and healthy snacks and will be much better equipped to deal with jet lag.
- Now, down to the nitty-gritty of clothing. You already know what type of vacation you're taking: beach, hiking the outback, taking a cruise or touring ancient ruins. Now you need to know what type of clothing is weather appropriate and culturally appropriate. Do your research and make a list. Buy or pack clothing that can be mixed and matched with each other. Those hiking pants can be easily dressed up for dinner with a change of shoes and sweater or polo shirt. The floor-length swimsuit cover up works well for a casual dinner on the beach. In most climates, layering clothing always works. Sweaters for the cool mornings and evenings with a tee shirt during the day when it warms up. Sweaters also make a great makeshift pillow in airplanes. Saving space is the key, so make sure you roll all of your clothing and stuff your shoes with underwear and socks.
- In addition to the perfect carry-on luggage, is the perfect travel bag. The ideal bag for me is one that I can tuck away a small cross-the-shoulder handbag, magazines, books, water bottle, notebook computer, guidebooks, camera, cell phone - in other words - a "catch all".
Two bags, that's it. I've found out that I can survive on less and it's quite "freeing" to travel lightly and easily. There are so many other ways to enjoy that hard-earned vacation than worrying about what you did and didn't remember to pack. Try it - you might like it.
What are some travel packing tips that you use? Please share them with us.