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One of the biggest travel packing mistakes is overpacking. Some might take traveling light as a science or art. Actually it is not so hard. Skill of traveling with stuff that is essential, but leaving at home unnecessary things, comes with experience. There are many tips and tricks that experience travelers do but anyone can learn traveling light.
Just to mention few of the advantages for traveling light:
- Economy - don’t need to pay airline extra fee for overweight check -in baggage;
- Security - it is much easier to take care of 1-2 bags then 3 or 4; less chances that something gets lost. Too much luggage marks you as a typical tourist.
- Flexibility - less stuff means greater mobility. You can take public transport with ease. Walk short distance instead of taking taxi;
- Serenity - you have more time because packing takes less time. No need to worry, that something left behind or lost. After landing you can go directly to the exit. No need to look for baggage claim and wait for it.
I had my first packing lessons when I was around 10 years old - that was the time when all my traveling started because of many competitions and summer camps. Ever since then I'm traveling with one or two bags. For flights, there is one carry on size bag with few inside and outside pockets. Most airlines define carry on bag as not more than 22x14x9 inches (56x53x23cm).
- For weekend getaway or short trips carry on size bag is very comfortable. If traveling by airplane, no need to arrive at the airport early and no need to wait for baggage delivery. Custom inspection (if needed) takes less time.
- Mostly all airlines allow two pieces of carry on - one bag and one personal item smaller size: a purse, laptop case or same plastic bag. All has to hit in the overhead bin or under the seat.
- If to travel just with one bag, you can do some sightseeing even before checking in hotel. Often, if flight arrives early in a morning, from airport I go to the city and have some breakfast. Then walk around a bit or do some shopping and then go to hotel.
Traveling light means understanding and proper use of packing list. What things will be really necessary and what you can get at destination. Staying at the hotel? Lately most hotels provide towels and shampoos. Traveling Europe – shorts are considered more as beachwear; if visiting cathedrals and churches, no bare shoulders (women might need to cover hear as well).
Everyone can learn some general packing tips for your next trip.
1. Make a list of things need during your trip.
Depending on reason and destination of your trip, there will be slightly different list of each trip. General items will remain the same, but some things will change. Many different samples of checklists can be found on the Internet. List of stuff you might want is different from list you really need.
Another function of packing list is to ensure that nothing important will be forgotten. It’s like shopping list - much easier to buy things you really need, not the ones that see on the shelf in front of you.
Add items to the list if you need them, to address your business needs, personal requirements, hobbies or destination. Resist the temptation to add non-essentials - like 'I might need this'.
Pick the things that are wrinkle resistant.
Start making a packing list several days before you leave. That way there will be few days to think about needed stuff. Check your wardrobe. Need something to wash before trip? Day before trip is good for packing. Make last changes due to weather information at the destination.
Taking checklist with you will ensure that you haven’t forgotten anything when repacking.
2. Think of the items you can get at the hotel or at your travel destination / at the airport.
Almost every hotel now is providing set of towels. Besides, often there are towels at the hotel's poolside already. Of course it is nice to take shower & wash hear with your own shampoo, but it's much easier to use the one hotel is providing.
There are things that you can buy after arrival. For example, you can get sunscreen lotion or tanning oil upon arrival or cosmetics and perfume at the airport. Often it is cheaper as well.
Another example – If travel to some fitness conference I take just one basic set of workout clothes. Usually there are some exhibits where to get new fitness outfit (and they have special deals at the events). This works well, if particular items are in my shopping / wish list already. If the worst comes to worst - I can wash it for next day.
What comes for shoes, if you already wear one pair of comfortable shoes, you need one more pair of sandals and maybe some slippers. If you plan to do some shopping for shoes, pack one pair of shoes less.
3. Put aside a set of travel clothes you will wear.
On your packing list put separately things you will be wearing while traveling to destination. Pick the dress that take more space and are heavier. On the plane / train long pants (jeans) are convenient. Add some t-shirt and jacket. T-shirts with long sleeves are even better. I prefer to take jacket with hood for travel. Even if to travel in summertime, it is fine for colder days and places with changing temperature.
Pick the heaviest / bulkiest pair of shoes to wear.
If raincoat or winter dresses are needed, wear heaviest and warmer items.
4. Carrying liquids if traveling by plane
Due to limitation of carry on liquids to bring aboard on aircraft, you can take 1 plastic bag with bottles less than 100ml (3.4oz) size. All content has to fit into clear quart size resealable plastic bag. All the other liquids have to go into checked in luggage.
Make a set of travel size items for cosmetics or personal toiletries. Use samples of cosmetic, shampoos while traveling.
Take lotions and any other liquids in less than full plastic bottles. Use it all during the trip and no need to bring back.
5. Medicine you might need during the trip
Think about essential items you might need during the trip. If you have prescription medicine in larger liquid size, you can take it on board but need to show prescription with your name on it.
Add some analgetic of choice. Think of medicine you are using now and then.
Adhesive bandages (different sizes).
Sleeping tablets - helps get some sleep on the plane; adapt to different time zone.
Few more travel items to stay healthy en route can be found on Magellans.com
6. Packing the suitcase
Don’t pack anything particularly valuable (such as camera or cash) in your checked in luggage.
Use packing cubes or mesh bags. Instead of folding up your cloths, roll them up. Put rolled items in the middle. Rolling clothes takes less space and keeps them with less wrinkled.
When packing shoes, don’t neglect the space inside your shoes - they are nice for socks or some fragile items. It is usually the best to pack pair of shoes tightly together, with soles out, with heels opposite ends.
Put heavy items on wheels, it will be easier to carry it and bag will be more stable.
Include some safety pins, rubber bands, small scissors and sewing kit as well.
7. Specialty items
Traveling with camera – will need a batteries or charger. Well it might be easier to take extra set of batteries then whole charger. But it more depends of duration of trip.
Taking mobile phone with you - might need charger.
Taking laptop - flash drive, power cords are needed. If traveling overseas, adapter for electricity is a must Check before you go - many countries have different wall sockets. Northern European countries have same standard of power plugs and sockets, but in England it is different. In many Eastern European countries western style plugs / sockets are used but there still might be an old style sockets.
8. Buddy packing
If you are traveling with family member or some good buddy, consider packing half of each person's belongings in the other's bag. In case of lost luggage at the airport each of you will still have some kind of stuff.
Well, this advice less likely is necessary for carry-on travelers.
Things you might not need - unless you go camping / hiking
Alarm cloak - every mobile phone already has one; there are wake-up calls in the hotels.
Towels - there will be at least one in the hotels. Though, if staying in hostel, then you need your own beddings as well. But you can rent sleep sheets as well.
Flashlight - unless you go camping.
Own plate, cap or glass - most hotels offer all this in the set with coffeemaker.
Umbrella - takes a lot of space and is not comfortable to carry. In short-term raincoat is fine.
Toilet paper – if you don’t like the one provided, get one in local store.
5 pairs of socks, 5 T-shirts, 5 pairs of shoes - if you go for weekend getaway.