Many can agree that packing is a frustrating experience. Sometimes you bring too many jeans and not enough shorts. While other times you forget a crucial item and are forced to take an impromptu and unnecessary shopping trip. It can be tough to know exactly what to bring, especially if you are going for a long trip or even moving somewhere new. After moving abroad three different times and taking several longer trips, I can definitely say that I have learned the do’s and the don’ts when it comes to packing. Here are some of my personal travel tips on how to pack lighter, smarter and quicker:
- Don’t bring what you can easily buy. Countless times I have seen people bring giant bottles of shampoo, five different facial creams, a three month supply of tampons and all sorts of unnecessary items. When I moved to Thailand, I brought all sorts of unnecessary items because I wanted to use the products that I knew and trusted. But I quickly learned that bringing all my toiletries from home was a big mistake. You can easily purchase the same or similar items in other cities and countries (and often for a lower price). On a longer trip, it’s easier to collect small items as you travel or purchase your toiletries when you arrive at your final destination. It saves a lot space in your bag that you can use to pack other things.
- Bring a towel that doesn’t take up space. Bath and beach towels are big, fluffy and take up a lot of space in your suitcase. The best purchase I ever made was a traveler/hiker’s towel. You can easily purchase these towels online and they are incredibly useful. They are made to dry quickly and roll up to the same size as a T-shirt.
- Layer your clothes! The weather is always changing and in some locations, experience different temperatures throughout the day. This can make the process of selecting clothes difficult. The best solution for this dilemma is layering. Don’t pack giant, thick jackets to wear over a t-shirt. Instead, try thiner layers that give you more bag space, while still preparing you for any weather condition. If the weather cools down, add another layer. And if heats up – shed one. It works every time!
- Select useful clothes and accessories. Everyone has that one item that they love to own, but barely use. For me, I love my red, fringe skirt and always think there is an occasion that I could use it. But truthfully speaking, I really don’t use this skirt all that often. Therefore, I find it is safer to pack items that I know I will use. You don’t need eight different pairs of shoes, handbags or pieces of clothing that you rarely wear. Pick pieces that you know you will wear and that can be used multiple times.
- Pick a good bag. Personally, I’ve always been drawn to a good duffel bag. I find they hold a lot of things, tend to stretch out and have small pockets for different items. The physical appearance of the bag is less important than its quality and the use you can get from it.
- Pack everything tight. My packing strategy comes from my mom– the queen of fitting everything you need into one bag. I have learned that rolling your clothes gives you a lot more space. There are also vacuum-packed plastic bags you can use to get everything as tight as possible.
So there you have it— some simple tricks and tips that have helped me become a packing pro. Stay tuned each week for new posts, from yours truly – Living La Vida Expat.