Packing with patience and time is almost an impossible dream for me. Honestly, I’m not the kind of person that prepares for a trip with days or weeks in advance. I’m an extreme traveler who loves adrenaline and the adrenaline (not to call it stress sometimes) of packing the night before or the day of the flight is part of the adventure.
Practice has definitely made me a master. After countless work trips where I have to bring many looks and options to be ready for the unexpected, like the weather or unplanned events, I think I’ve learned a few things.
And what I haven’t learned by doing has come to me in the shape of advice.
Every traveler has their own style but I want to share some tips that might be useful to us all.
#1 Zipper storage bags: the secret of the very neat traveler
Amazing for many reasons. First, because it’s an effective way to store your belongings. You can use a bag for pijamas, one for shirts, another for socks and so forth. The best? If you like unpacking, it just becomes a matter of moving the bags from the luggage to the closet.
Besides, if your suitcase has to go through rain your belongings won’t get wet.
- Instead of folding your clothes how you would normally, roll it up like a sleeping bag or a burrito. It will take up less space and prevent it from wrinkling.
- Take the air out of the bags with a vacuum or manually.
- I know its NOT ideal to use plastic bags but if you don’t have a more eco friendly alternative make sure to reuse them in your next trip.
#2 Shoes at the bottom: the secret of the clean traveler
The soles of our shoes, unless they’re new, are always dirty and for that simple reason we shouldn’t mix them with our clean clothes. I have a recommendation for that: Use old plastic or reusable bags to separate your shoes before putting them in your suitcase. (The same thing that applies to the zipper storage bags goes for this: reuse them).
If you have loose things, like socks or chargers, put them inside the bigger shoes. That way you give an extra use to the space inside each pair.
When you’re packing, start by putting your shoes at the bottom and in the corners. Follow with your heavier or bigger items like pants or jackets. This way you give enough room to the things that are difficult to fit and have space on top to fill up with smaller and lighter things. Doing this also helps keep the weight of the bag according to gravity (the heaviest things closer to the ground).
#3 Bed sheets and scarfs to seal: the secret of the organized traveler
Anytime you take with you long but light items like blankets, towels or even scarfs, leave them for last when you’re packing and then spread them out to cover all your stuff. This will help to “seal” all your belongings and give them an extra layer of protection.
#4 Always plan for the unplanned: the secret of the cautious traveler
Precaution when traveling can make a world of difference, specially if you’re leaving the country and know little about your destination. Plus, you never know what can happen in an airport and a delay in a flight can change all your plans. That’s why I recommend the following things:
- Always carry with you your valuable belongings and daily medicines. Don’t send them with your luggage under the plane because it’s no secret that it can get lost or not arrive on time.
- Always take with you a basic pack of medicines, specially if you need it for your health. It’s always good to prevent because most types of drugs change across borders.
- As I said before, you never know what can happen in an airport. That’s why I always bring with me an extra change of clothes and some higiene basics. A long wait in a terminal can be a lot more comfortable if you at least have a toothbrush.
- Pack just for what you need and a couple of extras. Plans in trips always change and you gotta be ready to experience it all.
Finally, I always recommend doing the head, shoulders, knees and toes routine when packing. Doing a little body scan will remind you if you’re forgetting something, although it’s not the cure for that feeling of “I think I left something but I don’t remember what it was”.
And the last, actually last, but obligatory check to do before the airport is the three “P”s checkup. Although the three “P”s part only works in Spanish, you can learn the words and then do it. Passport (Pasaporte). Ticket (Pasaje). Money (Plata). It’s basic but so necessary!
I hope these tips that have been so helpful for me, help you become more organized and cautious, but never less extreme!
Now you tell me, what’s your strategy for packing before traveling?