One of the most frequent questions I receive is always a variation of “How do I pack less and still have enough stuff for a week in (wherever they are going)?”. As baggage fees have skyrocketed over the past couple of years this question has become more and more important. Let’s take a look at some tips that could help you get your baggage down to a manageable size.
1. Leveraging Suitcase Space – I learned this little trick from my husband who served in the Marines. He taught me to “roll” clothing items. By laying out clothes flat then rolling them into a semi-tight roll, you shrink the size of the garment and cut down on wrinkles and creases left by folding clothes. This works really well with most items like t-shirts, sweaters and sundresses. If it is something you are going to pack in a suitcase, it can probably be rolled to take up less space and diminish the amount of wrinkles. You know how when you stand up your suitcase to roll it from place to place and it scrunches all your clothes to the bottom of the bag? If the clothes are rolled, they take up less space and can compact them into tighter packing. When everything shifts, it will not affect the rolled garments like it does the folded ones.
2. Heavy Item Packing – As I mentioned above, when standing up a suitcase, everything will shift down to the bottom of the bag. Try packing your heaviest items closest to the roller end of the bag. I always try to pack shoes, toiletry bags, etc., towards that end of the suitcase. When I get to the hotel and can finally lay it back down, my clothing is not scrunched up at the bottom of the bag.
3. Lose the Shoes – I have a small confession to make, I LOVE shoes. My closet looks like Imelda Marcos’ basement. Up until they started charging the ridiculous baggage fees, I was very apt to have one suitcase with nothing but shoes in it with a cute pair for every outfit. Being a frugal minded traveler, I just can’t justify that extra expense so I go by these guidelines. Depending on the type of trip you are taking (winter, summer, beach, mountains) you can make do with no more than three pairs of shoes. You need a comfortable pair that you can conceivably walk in all day for various types of conditions. Look at your clothing you are taking. What is the basic color scheme and what color shoe can you get away with for the majority of them? If I am heading to Mexico for example, I pack one cute pair of heels that will go with several of the outfits, I wear one pair of sandals that will go with everything else and then one pair of shoes that are comfortable that I can walk or hike in. It’s really pretty simple if you pack for a trip in a general color scheme. For men it is the same.
4. Purses Galore – Ok, so I have two confessions to make. I used to pack matching purses for each of those shoes. Crazy, I know, but what’s a girl to do? I now carry a large hobo bag to start the trip because I carry so much with me on the plane or in the car. Once we have arrived at our destination and I am ready to head out and explore, I carry a small shoulder bag that I can sling over my shoulder and across my body like I mentioned in the Travel Safety Tips article. There is also an excellent choice out there for those of us who love purses but don’t want to carry too many. Have you seen the Miche Bag? This is such a cool purse! It is a blank purse with “shells” that snap on via magnets. So, basically, you have a blank purse and in two seconds, it can be any color or pattern. I love these things. How often do we buy purses for one outfit and then have to change it the next day for something more practical? Great idea by a very good company.
5. Toiletries and Miscellaneous – When you get ready to pack for a trip, do you feel like you are taking everything but the bathroom sink? The biggest problem I had was finding something to put it all in so that I could see what I had. Baggies!! Yes, one gallon baggies do an amazing job of keeping toiletries and miscellaneous “stuff” together. I have used this trick for years because you can see through them to know what’s in the bag. You can put liquids in one bag, brushes and combs in another and when you pack them at the bottom of the suitcase (near the rollers), you help keep your clothes from being crumpled.
6. Carry-on Luggage – It is always best practice to be prepared. Think of your carry on bag as the lifeline you might need if your checked luggage does not arrive at the same destination or at the same time as you. It’s always a good idea to put your electronics in a carry on. I know I can live with losing my clothes but losing my laptop, iPad or camera is going to make for a terrible trip. I like to pack a simple change of clothes that I can roll up and stow away. It’s also best if you pack any prescription medication you have to have in either your purse or your carry on. Toiletries are something you can pick up anywhere you are going so I don’t find those necessary to pack for emergencies. I also have a small led flashlight in my bag. A copy of your itinerary and travel documents in your carry is also a great idea. You should always have a copy of them when you travel in the event you lose it.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. I would love to hear your tips for packing. I’ve learned over the years that people come up with the most ingenious ways to pack!