The anticipation before taking a trip of any kind is probably one of the best feelings in the world. You spend days browsing the internet looking at photos of your desired destination, making you budget and go through dozen sites just to find the perfect hotel to suit you. Yet, for some reason when you mention the word ‘packing’, which is obviously a main part of the preparation; people tend to stress out about it. And indeed, packing can have a large influence when taking a trip. When done right, it can save you money and time, while on the other hand; when done wrong, it can really cause unnecessary stress and you’ll find yourself in need of extra space.
So, probably the first thing you should do before even getting started to pack is getting a thorough inside and some knowledge about the place you’re traveling to. Check the weather forecast, so you’ll have a general idea about the clothes you will have to bring. But don’t throw out all the hoodies and sweaters you already packed. After all, who’s to say that it won’t get windy on de Maldives? Pack one item of clothing you’ll be able to wear when it gets colder at night, or if it starts to rain unexpectedly.
Also, plan your outfits by day. Women usually tend to overload their suitcase with twenty tops and six pairs of jeans, without actually needing them. And believe me, there is nothing more frustrating than coming home from a holiday and finding half of your clothes not even worn. Plan ahead, think of the actual outfits you’re planning to wear on your trip and pack some staple pieces, such as a comfortable pair of jeans that you can combine with multiple shirts and blouses. You will find that this way you will pack way less items than you would usually, which obviously gives you space for other things you would like to bring.
Another thing, if you happen to be traveling with a friend, ask them if they would like to share some pieces of clothing. Obviously, we’re not talking about underwear, but things you wouldn’t mind borrowing your friend such as a jacket or dress. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be only clothes, why not decide what each of you is going to bring regarding bath and body products? One could, for example, bring shampoo while the other brings toothpaste. Also, when bringing these products, don’t take the family size packages; instead, go for the travel-size ones. Especially if you are going by plane, because they don’t let liquids in larger quantities pass the check.
As far as electronics, don’t be tempted to bring your entire home. If you think you need to bring a professional camera, laptop, camcorder, game console and every possible charger for all of these things, you are definitely wrong. Most hotels nowadays provide their guests with access to laptops and computers as well as Wi-Fi. And if you decide to bring a camera, choose one which will suit your purposes best, whether that is making photos or filming. And also make sure it doesn’t take too much space.
A useful tip: if you’re bringing some new pair of shoes in your suitcase as well, try putting small things such as socks or underwear in them. That way you’re using up space that would otherwise have been empty anyways.
So, it’s time, you’re leaving tomorrow and you’re getting your suitcase out, ready to pack. Well, you actually made a mistake already, since you decided to pack the day before, and that’s where most people go wrong. If you pack the day before your departure you are most likely to forget something. First of all, make a list of the things you are planning to take with you. After that is finished, start packing three days in advance. Yes, three days at least. I have found that if you pack then, you will see that in the following two days you will probably add some things in your suitcase. Or maybe you forgot to buy something you planned to bring on your trip, in this way you will still have enough time. It’s only human not to do everything perfect the first time. If you do manage to pack everything the first time, you should consider yourself very lucky. Also, don’t forget to leave some space in your bags for souvenirs and gifts.
To make it easier on yourself when travelling, you can make a checklist of things you need to bring. The best way to make a checklist is to do it on the computer, since you can always add some new things you come up with. Also, you will have it ready every other time you decide to take a trip. At the end of this text I have included my own checklist that includes things I find necessary when travelling. You can also download it as an Excel file. Based on this one, you can make your own checklist of course.
The actual day has come, you’re leaving, and everything is packed and settled. It’s time to go! Have you made sure that all the really ‘important’ is in hand reach? You should always pack things such as your passport, wallet, mobile charger, medication and tickets with you. And actually keep it with you at all times, making sure you don’t let any strangers ‘watch’ your stuff while you’re going to the toilet.
While traveling to your destination, bring a kind of jacket because it can get cold in an airport, airplane, bus or train. Also, bring your phone charger, as well as a sandwich or a snack because you never know when you’ll need it. Overall, always carry some hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and tissues with you.
So you have had a great time, you’ve done and seen everything you wanted. But now you are back and reality hits you. In order to get back to your everyday life, you should probably unpack first, right? Don’t be the person keeping their suitcase unpacked in their house or room for 2 months. Believe me: nothing good has ever come from that. When it comes down to unpacking, try doing this strategically. Namely, divide everything that you brought in different categories. For example, gifts; dirty clothes; bath supplies; gadgets. This way, you can finish everything in one sitting, and you’ll be able to put everything back right where it belongs.
In the end, everyone has his or her own way of (un)packing, and you know yourself what suits you best. But the next time you’re going somewhere, try some of these hacks and you’ll see that you will do a better job. After all, who knows, maybe you‘ll just need that little extra place in your baggage to bring home the love of your life!
What to pack for a trip?
Scuba diving certificate
International driving license
Flights Online check-in
Print reservations (hotels, excursions)
Check and write down currency exchange rates
Notebook and pen
Copy of first and visa pages of the passport
E-mail to yourself documents
Electrical socket outlet splitter
Chargers for electrical devices
Download movies on tablet
USB flash to backup photos
Empty camera memory cards
Charge spare batteries
Maps for GPS navigation*
Small sewing kit
Pocket knife (keep it in check-in luggage)
Shampoo and shower gel
Anti-itch cream (for insects bites, allergy)
Travel sickness tablets
Wash your clothes
Sandals and/or shoes
* When needed
Download list as an Excel file here: Packing list for a trip.