One of the biggest stresses of preparing for a trip is packing. At least for me.
I generally start a week or more before I leave. I stress over the size of a suitcase I need, what all I’m going to bring, what I’m packing that I don’t really need and without fail I tend to pack, repack and repack again before I leave.
I would like to ‘think’ that I’m getting better with this whole packing business. I’m constantly going through suitcases (I tend to be very hard on them and let’s be honest – lugging a suitcase through Europe takes its toll).
Here’s some Packing 101 advice…if you’re a new traveler – I hope it can help you!
Do you need to check luggage or can you bring a carry-on?
That all depends on your trip. If you’re only going for a few days – save yourself the hassle and pack everything into a carry on bag.
If you’re headed for a longer trip, more than likely you’ll need to check luggage (let’s face it – there are souvenirs to purchase – despite saying you won’t buy any, you always do).
Some things to think about when packing luggage is this:
- Can you physically manage the bags yourself? Will you be able to lift them, pull them etc?
- How will you get from point A to B? (subway, cab, car rental etc)
- How often are you changing locations?
- Will you be able to wash your clothes? (check with your hotel, they might provide laundry service)
The Benefit of Small/Carry-on Suitcases
If you are flying then you may want to consider a carry-on suitcase that you can take on the plane with you and store in the overhead compartment. You can check the dimensions of your suitcase online with your flight provider. You may have to stand in line early to ensure you get a spot in the overhead area for your carry-on luggage. After the flight you can walk right off the plane and not have to go and wait at the luggage carousel.
A “carry-on” suitcase that has wheels and outside pockets is a great choice!
Can your computer bag double as a purse for the flight? Or, could a backpack hold your computer and what you would normally carry in your purse? That would eliminate an extra bag. Perhaps after the security check you can fit your computer bag or contents of your backpack in your carry-on luggage with wheels.
One thing I’ve learned with traveling in Europe – bringing large suitcases always means I’m breaking wheels and lugging around something way too large. I like to take trains, buses etc while I’m traveling and cobblestone pathways while I’m walking towards my hotel from the train station, having to carry my luggage while I’m boarding a train…I always regret the larger luggage. My last trip to Germany I brought a carry-on for a week and OMG…it simplified things for me in so many ways!
Carry Purse and/or computer bag
It is a good idea to have a small pouch/purse with a long shoulder strap that stays around you with your passport and some change in it close by and safely at hand.
This is my favorite carry-on – it fits my laptop, a pair of shoes, lots of compartments for cords, notebooks, my kindle, snacks etc. It’s from Lug and it’s called the Hula Hoop Carry-all Messenger. It has a strap that goes over the handle of my suitcase making transporting it through the airport easy too. (you can buy it on Amazon.ca)
BEFORE YOU PACK
Be sure to empty out and look through every bag you are taking – make sure there is nothing in it from your last trip (you won’t believe the things I’d thought I’d lost only to realize I hadn’t unpacked properly).
If you’ve never heard of packing cubes…now is the day! These little babies make packing so much easier … word of warning though, you don’t realize how much you can pack in each cube and it could make your luggage extra heavy. I always use my cubes on my tips – I separate my pants/skirts in one cube (with sweaters if needed) and then my tops in another and undergarments in the smaller cube. I also love the extra bags you get – help with laundry, make up etc!
If you think ahead you can co-ordinate your outfits to work together giving you even more options. A quick peek at your hotel, cruise ship or condo information may reveal on-site coin laundry; it may be a great opportunity; allowing you to cut your luggage into half the amount!
After you have decided if you are going to be a light or heavy packer. I always start out with way too many clothes and it takes going through my outfits and really thinking about what I’m doing each day to par down. Ultimately I end up not taking half the clothes I thought I’d need. (My husband always ends up shaking his head at me during this process.)
Make a list and/or pick out the clothes you want to take the most. Lay them out. Are they appropriate for your activities on your trip? Do you have room for more? Will some extra shoes fit in? Your toiletries? (Make sure your toiletries are in a clear plastic bag if they are liquids- check your online flight provider for restrictions).
Enjoy your trip!