Whether it's a weekend away in New York City or a two-week vacation in the sun, packing is the necessary evil that paves the way to escape. Nobody loves the idea of packing. So, most people tend to put it off until the last possible moment and then, in frenzy of activity grab and pitch and cram random stuff into a suitcase, backpack or rollaboard.
Traveling light sounds great, but how can we actually achieve it? Well, sorry to say, it will take some planning. Here are 10 travel hacks that will help you to cut the bulk and travel light. Read through to the end and get the whole picture.
10 Buy Into A Smaller Bag
If you, like The Rock, have a huge suitcase, guess what? You are going to fill it up. Invest in a smaller bag, and you will, by definition, travel lighter. Now, we can hear your objections to this approach.
But read on. We are going to deal with many of your concerns as we go along. There is a holistic approach to this traveling lighter gig. Step by step, we will make you a lighter and brighter traveler, starting with a smaller bag. Next, the fun bit.
9 Know Where You Are Going And What You Are Going To Be Doing
As you will know if you have seen National Lampoon's Vacation, these people failed on both counts. Ask yourself, what are you actually going to be doing on the trip? If it's a weekend in New York, maybe you plan to do some shopping, dining, and theater-going. That means one dressy outfit, one walking around outfit and a pair of dressy flats and a pair of walking shoes.
If it's sunny Florida, pack a bathing suit, a couple of pairs of shorts and tops and one long dress for evening dining. Throw in some sandals and sneakers and you are done. OK, we'll allow you two bathing suits. See how easy this is?
8 Pack Outfits, Not Individual Items
This is genius, Sheer genius. If you pack individual items, it's very random. And when you get back home you will probably not have worn half the stuff you took. So, pair those jeans with a shirt or tee shirt. Pair up a skirt and blouse. That way you can pinpoint what, if any, accessories you need for that particular outfit.
How many times have you thrown stuff into a suitcase, then looked at your jewelry and belts, and, having no clue what you will want to wear, overpacked the jewelry and other accessories? We're betting it's happened a lot.
7 Neutral Is The Way To Go
OK, you pull out a red and yellow striped shirt, a magenta sweater and a purple skirt. Now, you've got to match it with things. Dear me. Jeans? Maybe. Orange pants? Definitely not. How much more sensible would it be if, for traveling, you decided to go neutral and pack clothes that just naturally match?
So go for khaki, black, gray, navy, brown and white, remembering to divide them into outfits before you pack. The same applies to shoes. So leave the leopard print sandals in the closet. And forget the orange pants.
6 Plan On Doing Laundry At Your Destination
Do you pack an outfit for each day? Well, no wonder your bags are bulging. Plan ahead and check laundry facilities at your vacation digs. My Beautiful Laundrette, perhaps? Most hotels will have laundry facilities. Sure, it's a bit of a drag doing laundry on vacay, but with your smaller suitcase, it just has to be the way to go.
And, one other thing, try emphasizing clothes that are wrinkle resistant. Or, if you have to do a spot of ironing, treat yourself to a movie in your room and maybe a sampling from the mini-bar. We're nearly halfway through and it's beginning to come together.
5 The Necessaries - Travel Size Or Buy When You Arrive
There are two schools of thought on this one. Do you keep travel-size items like shampoos and toothpaste in your carry on bag or do you buy the stuff when you get there? It depends on the length of the trip. For the weekend in New York, travel size is the way to go.
Otherwise, you would be packing and bringing the stuff you bought home with you. If you are doing two weeks in the sun, buying when you arrive probably makes sense. Just don't go for the jumbo, extra-large bottle of shampoo.
4 Lay Out Everything
OK, you've done an outline of your trip, gone with neutrals and matched up outfits. The next step is to lay out everything so you can see everything. Why? Well because it will give you an overview of what you've got. That might help you to decide what else you might need to consider taking with you.
It will also help you decide what you don't need to take. Factor in things like the weather. If it's New York, you might need a raincoat and an umbrella. If it's Florida, you may well want to add a cami or two (remembering to buy sunscreen there, of course).
3 Roll Your Clothes
Rolling your clothes as you pack is an oldie but a goodie of a travel hack. Rolling your clothes will save space in the suitcase and help to keep them wrinkle-free. Also, rolling your clothes means that you don't get layers and layers of carefully folded clothes.
The ones at the bottom are invisible. You might even forget they are there. Rolling makes more of what you are taking visible when you open your suitcase. When you unpack, remember to hang outfits together.
2 Tablet And Tablet Bag
Go for a compact tablet, instead of an unwieldy laptop, and invest in a tablet bag. You can take it everywhere and store documents and important papers in the bag. Instead of rifling through your handbag in search of bits of paper, you will know just where they are, safely tucked up with your tablet.
Check with your airline if you are flying, but be aware that many airlines treat laptop bags and briefcases as personal items (like purses or handbags) and not as carry-ons. Good to know.
1 Buy Into Your Natural Hair
Do you really, really need a hairdryer, a straightening iron, and a curling iron? Maybe electric curlers? Hotels will have hairdryers. And the rest? Decide you can live without them. It will save a ton of room (and weight) in your smaller suitcase.
Check the weight allowance your airline allows. And by the weigh (yes weigh) you should weigh your little bag on your bathroom scales before setting out to the airport, thereby avoiding a potentially nasty surprise.