Traveling: the most exciting time of the year, when you get to go to new places and try new things.
Packing: the most dreadful time of the year, when you have to try to stuff all your belongings into a little bag to do said traveling.
Well, unless you know how to pack like a pro.
Step 1: Pick the perfect bag.
First things first, you need the right bag. If it’s a weekend trip, you probably only need a small carry-on bag. But if it’s a week long trip, that small carry-on probably won’t cut it.
Step 2: Check the weather.
Being prepared for what you might experience while you’re traveling can tell you what you absolutely must pack and what you can leave at home.
Step 3: Decide what to pack.
There are a few easy ways to make sure you have enough room for everything you’ll need. It’s smart to invest in the travel size bottles of the toiletries you already use. Smaller bottles are space-savers. Try to wear the same outfit on the plane there and back to save yourself two days worth of clothes. Pack double the amount of shirts as pants, because you should be able to wear each pair of jeans twice. Stay within the same color family, so that you can easily mix and match. Pack one pair of sandals, one pair of sneakers, and one pair of nice evening or formal shoes. Pick a few versatile accessories that can work with a variety of outfits. And lastly, don’t forget the undergarments. Always pack the same number as days you’re going to be gone, if not a few extra.
Step 4: Gather everything.
Take everything you plan on taking out of your closet, drawers and bathroom, and lay it out around the outside of your suitcase. Take a look at everything you plan on taking and make sure that every single thing has a minimum 80 percent chance of being used.
Step 5: Fold everything up.
One of the most debated questions in the packing world is rolling vs. folding. Rolling your clothes instead of folding them is usually a smart way to save space, but it definitely causes more wrinkles. Roll wrinkle resistant fabrics like denim, cotton or wool. However, if you’re still nervous about that, try the filing system. Fold your clothes however you normally fold them, but when it comes time to pack, instead of laying them horizontally, place them vertically back-to-back. This allows you to fit a few more items in but still gives you the same wrinkle-free results as the traditional folding method. Also, try to stuff as many pairs of socks and underwear into your shoes as possible to save even more space. If you’re bringing any necklaces, cut a piece of a straw and slide it onto the chain to keep it from tangling. Stick earrings through a piece of plastic wrap to keep the pairs together. Place all of your pieces of jewelry in a bag to keep it all together, and pack it with your toiletries.
Step 6: Pack!
- Pack the awkward things first. Shoes, blowdryers, extra purses or anything that’s big, bulky or awkwardly shaped. Put these on the bottom and shape them along the edges of the suitcase.
- Lay the heaviest items, like your jeans, sweaters or hoodies, down next. Some of these can fit in the nooks and crannies between the things in your first layer.
- Put in anything that’s fragile next. Here it will be in the center of your suitcase, giving it the most protection possible.
- Pack the lighter items, like t-shirts, extra undergarments or pajamas, on top of those items.
- Cram any extra socks, underwear, jewelry or other small items into the sides or gaps between your clothes.
- If you’re packing in a carry-on, it is smart to put your toiletries in an outside pocket so they can be easily accessed in the security line. If you’re checking your bag, either put your toiletries on top of your t-shirts or slide them down into the gaps between your stacks of clothes.
- Snake your belts around the inside perimeter of your suitcase.
- If you’re going on a vacation where you’ll probably buy a lot of souvenirs, it might be smart to include an empty carry-on bag to put them all in for the plane ride home. Make sure it’s a thin bag, and it should lay nicely across the top of all your things.
Step 7: Pack your carry-on.
If during step one, you opted just for a small carry-on bag, go ahead and skip straight to step eight. If not, stay with me. You’re almost done! So, the fact of the matter is that as much as airlines try not to misplace luggage, it happens. And when it happens, it’s much better to be prepared for it. Consider your carry-on an emergency kit. Pack the essentials that you absolutely can’t live without, plus some things for in-flight entertainment.
Step 8: Enjoy your trip.
Last but not least, don’t forget to have an amazing time!