Packing Perfection: How to Become a Master Packer on your Travels

Packing is an important part of every traveling adventure. How and what you pack can affect your experience for better or for worse. Learn to be a smart packer. Not only can it help you travel more comfortably, but it could also save money by helping you avoid extra fees and unnecessary purchases.

Know where you are going.

It is easier to decide what to take with you and what to leave behind if you know what to expect at your destination. Consider the peculiarities of that place. What is the weather like? What elements will you be up against? What is readily available and what isn’t? What will you need right away? Ask yourself such questions, and pack only what you will actually need.

Plan to travel lightly.

It is easy to get carried away with packing things you might need.  As Lonely Planet author Loren Bell says, “The unknown of travelling makes us want to surround ourselves with familiar items but the ‘what if’ game will get you in trouble.” Bell advises travelers to keep reminding themselves not to pack too much. 1 If you do end up in need of something, you could probably buy it somewhere nearby.(Give the locals some credit!)

Know what is not allowed.

Check with your airline, travel authority and your destination for prohibited items. See for example, TSA travel checklist and What can I bring?

 Prepare a list.

 A list will help you keep track of what you take with you. It also prevents you from forgetting important things that you might otherwise forget, like a charger or a first aid kit. Look over the list and ask yourself if there is anything there you can take out.

Carry important stuff.

 Do not check in essential items in a suitcase. It should be obvious why you must keep your passport and wallet with you on board. But do not forget other important things such as documents, jewelry and electronic devices that may contain precious data.

Don’t bring your entire wardrobe.

 Pack no more clothes than you need. If you are going to a popular tourist destination, you will probably find a laundry service around. Even if you visit a more remote place, the locals probably have a way to wash clothes.

Make use of all space available.

Roll your clothes rather than folding them. Empty your wallet or purse of useless stuff. You can use compression bags if you like those, although IndependentTraveler.com warns that they do not help reduce weight. 2

Take advantage of the “personal item.”

Independent Traveler says, “In addition to a carry-on bag, airlines allow you to bring a personal item such as a purse or laptop bag.” 3 Use the extra item wisely and do not put anything in it that is forbidden on board the plane.

Don’t be sentimental.

Leave sentimental items at home unless there is a good reason to take them with you. You do not want to risk losing those anyway.

Choose multi-purpose items.

A versatile gadget can save space in your luggage and take the place of several other items. For example, a full-featured tablet with the right software may substitute for a digital camera, a laptop, a travel guide and oh — a shelf full of books. Ask yourself whether you truly need a dedicated gadget for each purpose.

Stay within your budget.

Weight and volume should not be your sole considerations when packing for a trip. Think about the monetary costs as well. Traveling with less means buying fewer things and paying fewer fees. You can save the money for a future vacation, set it aside for emergency, or use it tohelp pay off your student debts more quickly (if you have any).

 Learn from experience.

 You will probably pack the most on your first trip. After that, you will figure out on your own what you need and don’t need. Give yourself the opportunity to learn from experience.

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