Here are some tips and tricks I've learned over the years when it comes to packing. I documented my packing process while packing for my 3-week summer trip to Europe.
1. Pack light. I wasn't the best at this, but I've learned a few things that has helped me minimize over the years.
- For clothes, plan out your outfits in advance. Only pack items that you will definitely wear at least once. For longer trips, only pack things that you will definitely wear twice (unless it's a statement outfit/ dress for an important event like a wedding, etc.)
- When you're halfway through packing, look over your suitcases and take out everything you don't think you will need. When you're done packing, do this again.
- Don't take anything that you might need if they can be purchased on the trip when needed, such as aloe vera you might need in case of sunburn. The only exception to this rule is medicine. I load up on Advil like no other.
2. Leave your suitcases 1/3 empty. It doesn't matter if you promise not to purchase anything on your trip, it will fill up by the time you return.
3. Roll your clothes. It helps prevent wrinkles and takes up less space. It's best to roll clothes made from cotton and lightweight tops and dresses. However, it is best to fold down certain items, like pants that already have creases in them or jackets.
4. Always pack a couple plastic bags and zip-lock bags. Plastic bags come in handy for dirty clothes, wet swimsuits, shoes, any toiletries you purchase along the way, etc. Zip-lock bags are great for storing food, packing tech goods & cables, wrapping souvenirs, protecting camera gear when it rains, filling with ice as ice packs for any injuries, etc.
5. Shoes always take up the bulk of my space and can be the best place to minimize. I take the following four:
- 1 pair of flip flops (trust me, you'll need them)
- 1 pair of stylish athletic shoes that can double for work outs and everyday wear
- 1 pair of flats (either sandals, closed toe, or booties, depending on the season)
- 1 pair of heels (either open toed or booties, depending on the season)
Anything in addition to these four, I only let myself bring them if I have pretty strong reasons for it. For this trip, I included 2 pairs of heels because I needed daytime espadrilles and nighttime heels for some of the day clubs and night clubs.
6. Use shoe bags to pack shoes. If you don't have shoe bags, use shower caps or basic plastic bags. Pack socks inside of your shoes to maximize space and to retain shape. Then store shoes on the bottom of the suitcase since they're heavier. This is helpful since it won't weigh down on clothes/tech goods. Also, bottom-heavy suitcases are harder to tip over.
7. Always take a couple universal adapters with you.
8. Always take portable chargers with you. I always end up recharging my iPhone, which is crucial for if I get lost or if I'm looking up restaurants in a new city. PS - take a look at my top tech choices for travel.
9. Find a space-efficient way to pack bras and panties. I used a packing cube to keep them together. I used another packing cube to keep my bikinis together.
10. Always use a waterproof container to pack your toiletries. I learned this when my shampoo and perfume bottle exploded in my non-waterproof container over my clothes while in flight. Make sure to leave them near the top of the suitcase so that you can easily take them out for security.
11. Jewelry is a great space-saving way to make your outfits look and feel new. Find everyday items lying around to store them, such as Laduree macaron boxes, pencil boxes, or sunglasses cases. For dainty necklaces, use a straw to help them from getting tangled. (My worst nightmare is untangling necklaces.)
12. For sunhats, caps, or floppy wool hats, pack the inside with smaller clothes. Place it in the center of your suitcase and pack around it.
13. Pack a Turkish towel instead of a regular towel. They can be used after showers, at the beach, or at the park. They take up less space and are oh-so pretty!
14. Keep your most expensive items with you, such as expensive jewelry, camera, iPad, etc. You don't want to risk losing them in checked baggage.
15. Pack a water bottle. Also take a toothbrush and toothpaste in a ziplock bag to freshen up during your trip.