Pack Light, Travel Fast
I’m gearing up for another five-day excursion and since I am planning what I am packing, I figured I would share my tips. I have always prided myself on packing efficiency, but I didn’t realize how valuable that particular skill was until I was traveling with a friend whose packing style was the exact opposite of mine. We were on a six-day trip. I packed a carry-on. She had a carry-on and a full-size piece of checked luggage. We took turns lugging her giant suitcase through the cobblestone streets of Paris, up and down flights of stairs from the underground stations to the streets, over sidewalks that were torn to pieces, and up the hill to our hostel. I kid you not, if she opened that suitcase twice in the six days we spent in France, I would be amazed. The girl had packed almost all of her necessary items in her carry-on! Her suitcase was full of ‘just-in-case’ outfits; ‘just-in-case’ she needed a really great dress for clubbing, ‘just-in-case’ she needed her hiking boots. By the time we left, she had packed even more purchases into the suitcase and my patience with dragging that thing through crowded trains was spent. I took that as an opportunity to understand how important it is to plan appropriately and pack lightly, so here are my suggestions.
Pick Your Wardrobe in Advance
Understand what the purpose of your trip is and pack for that. I try very hard to make sure each item of clothing I pack can be used in three different outfits. A simple black t-shirt is plain, but can easily be used under a jacket for casual business and with khakis for a casual look. If you’re traveling for business, try to make a list of those items first, then use any extra space for leisure items. Actually lay out the clothing you plan to wear with your itinerary. See where items can overlap. When it comes to makeup, pick one simple look for the trip and stick with it. I try to keep the small, easy to lose items in a few cosmetic bags that I picked up from Personal Creations before our summer vacation last year; they’re color coded and labeled so I can easily remember what each contains.
Watch out for ‘Just-in-Case’ Packing
I think a lot of people have issues with ‘just-in-case,’ as my friend did. When you travel you don’t want to miss out on something because you weren’t prepared, and it often feels like anything can happen. In reality though, the place may change, but you don’t. When you have free time, how do you spend it at home? Do you find a place for a quick day hike? Then maybe bringing sneakers isn’t a bad idea if you know there are some trails nearby. At night, do you always go out and enjoy clubs or bands? Then you’ll probably want to do that while you are in a new place. I’ve learned that old habits die hard. The things you enjoy at home are likely the things you will want to experience while traveling, so consider what you are most likely to do and pack accordingly.
Plan for Gifts and Souvenirs
If I am going somewhere that I plan to purchase a large amount of items, whether for gifts or for myself, I always consider how I will get them back home. I pack a nylon gym bag that is easily folded into a very small size in my luggage so I have the option to fill that and check it for the trip home, but I also carefully consider the costs of checking my baggage or shipping the items home. I’ve done both, after considering the costs associated with each.
Hopefully these tips will help you pack for your next adventure!