Travel is a mind-expanding opportunity to learn a great deal about yourself and our world, but even the most organized and well-planned trip can get bumpy if you haven’t packed the right gear, or if it isn’t stored in a logical order. We’d like to help make your trip memorable for the right reasons. Check out the suggestions below!
Carry-On: What to Pack
Your passport and any driving permits must be at the ready and close to you at all times. For travelers who prefer a backpack, make sure to stash this crucial documentation close to your body – exterior pockets are at risk of loss or theft. For overseas travel, consider making an extra copy of your passport and ID so if you do suffer a loss of theft, these items can be replaced quickly so you can get back to your planned itinerary!
Never check in your medications. Keep any meds you need on your person, and consider investing in a chilling pack that you can easily slip into a carry-on to keep your medications cool or at least stable. If you suffer from motion sickness, pack your anti-nausea meds in an easy to access pocket or pouch.
Keep cash close to your skin. Review exchange options for cash before you travel whenever possible, and secure at least one credit card recommended for the region you’re headed for; if possible, get two cards in case one of them fails.
Ear plugs, eye shields and a neck pillow can help you sleep on planes and trains. You may need electronic adapters to help you charge or power some appliances; consider getting a couple so you can stay powered up. You might also want to invest in portable power bricks that you can keep charged and carry with you. Finally, stash an empty water bottle for filling up at drinking fountains once you get through security.
Change of Clothes
The risk of spills or of your checked bag getting lost is real. If your carry on space is at a minimum, treat yourself to fresh underwear, socks and a clean shirt. Consider carrying a washcloth so if you do suffer a spill, you can get cleaned up and feel a bit tidier. Very basic toiletries such as a travel sized deodorant will also lift your spirits on very long trips.
Backpack or Suitcase? Carry-On Vs. Checked
For long flights or flights with many layovers, you’ll want a bag with plenty of space for all your necessaries. Modern travel backpacks now include many wonderful features such as backpacks that open like suitcases and those with strap storage so your pack doesn’t get tangled with everyone else’s stuff in the overhead bin.
Don’t Overdo It!
If your travel plans include a facility with laundry access, you can obviously pack less. Regardless, be sure to only put in your carry-on items that you will absolutely need and avoid overloading yourself. Hiking through multiple airports with a ton of unnecessary stuff on your back is not a great way to start your adventure!
Fly In Comfort
Most flyers are have heard that their flight will be “crowded” as they stash their items in the overhead bin. Expect to be a bit squashed and plan accordingly.
Wear light layers and garments that will flex with you. Elastic waists, knits that breathe and things you can get into and out of easily will keep you comfortable and avoid bumping into your neighbors.
Look for garments with plenty of pockets. Stash gum or mints in the pockets for a quick freshen up and to help you fight plugged ears from pressure changes. A favorite of ours is a sleeveless vest with a hood; this can be flipped around and worn as a lightweight blanket to keep the light off your face while you catch a quick nap! Fleece vests can also be rolled up and used as a pillow in a pinch.
Avoid anything snug, particularly at knee and hip joints. Some travelers may want to invest in compression socks to aid in circulation.
Ladies, if you generally wear underwire bras, consider getting a soft cup bra for traveling. Sleeping on a plane or train is a challenge, so you’ll want to be as comfy as possible from the skin out on long journeys.
Finally, invest in some good slip ons for getting through security that will still support you on long walks. Untying and retying shoes is a hassle, particularly in a rush or once your backpack is loaded, so shoes you can get into and out of quickly will make your trip through security a bit easier.
Checked Bag: What to Pack
Cushions and Layers
You can put more liquids in your checked bag, which is great until something spills and you’ve soaked your garments in what used to be your favorite perfume. However, you can easily cushion your liquids and any delicate jewelry in hand towels or washcloths (which may be handy anyway) and a snug wrap in a gallon-sized ziploc bag.
Be sure to include your sunscreen in this packet of liquids! You may not be able to find the right product at your destination; many sunscreens contain scents that can cause an allergic reaction. Hives and vacations don’t mix!
If you often forget a dirty clothes bag, wrap all your pre-packaged liquids in a trash bag. Once you unpack, you’ll have a spot for everything as your trip progresses!
Work With A Theme
If space is at a premium, work with a defined color scheme. For example, pack only black pants. This generally means only black shoes and socks, and your tops can be easily mated to this color scheme. It will lessen your packing questions and keep you looking coordinated for the whole trip!
Rolling and Tucking
Packing your garments flat looks nice when the suitcase is flat on the bed, but as soon as you stand it up and start rolling it around, you’ve undone all your work.
- Lay out the suitcase with the handle extended.
- Work from the bottom up. Heavy items like shoes go at the bottom. Stuff any socks you’ll need for those shoes inside them; it will save you hunting and space.
- Next comes bottoms. If you need heavy clothes like jeans or sweatpants, roll them as small as possible and pack them tight just to the handle side of the shoe.
- For best cushion, put your double wrapped liquids in just above the bottoms.
- Now tops can be fitted in. Again, roll things small. Pack a variety of sleeve lengths and weights.
- Above this, you can squash in any grooming tools (razors and curling irons come to mind) since you probably had to use them just before heading to the airport.
- If your suitcase has an outer zippered pocket for toiletries, load it up with your underwear instead. This will further protect your liquids, now snuggled down in the very heart of your suitcase.
When deciding how to pack for traveling abroad, fabric is key. If you need something dressy, try to find something with enough knit in it that you won’t have to iron it. This will be easier for women than men; sorry, fellas.
If your garment has any sparkles or beading, pack it inside out. Roll it gently and place it in among your tops. This should protect the knit fabric from getting snagged or torn up while being jostled inside your suitcase. We’ve had great luck with small shopping bags for this purpose; place the rolled item inside the bag and tie it snugly before placing it in with your other garments.
Even the most seasoned traveler can forget pajamas, which is why they’re at the end of this list. These can be rolled up and stashed in the zipper pocket on the front of the checked bag with your underwear. If your pj’s include a long nightgown or nightshirt, consider wrapping your underwear in the pajamas and placing all this inside a trash bag. It will give you more padding and extra storage for dirty clothes as your trip progresses.
Worrying About Weather
We’ve all packed the wrong clothes and either froze or baked on an outing. Be financially prepared to buy a tee shirt if needed so you can stay cool. Also, consider packing a raincoat / windbreaker in your checked bag. If it’s much colder than you expected, you can layer up under this jacket and stay, if not cozy, at least comfortable as you stroll around your destination.
Travel is a joy! Stay flexible and revel in the experience of new lands and people. You don’t need to invest in a lot of new, expensive gear for your next trip. For many of us, the trick of how to pack for traveling abroad includes lots of plastic bags, slip-on shoes and rolling all your clothes as small as possible!