Table of Contents
by Debra Kerper
Packing tips for travel
I love travel and just about everything that goes with it, but packing is definitely the exception. It is a necessary evil, though, so I came up with some tips and tricks based on my experience to make the process as painless as possible. I hope you will find my suggestions helpful. I am not sure they will make packing more “joyful” for you, but hopefully a bit easier.
Pack by day or by category?
You need to decide which method works best for you. Do you like to pack all your tops, workout clothes or undergarments together? Or do you prefer to pack by the day and keep complete outfits together? I use both methods to organize depending on the specific trip and whether I am packing my suitcase or my carry-on.
Generally, I keep my clothes together by category in my suitcase. It’s a good system that makes life easier when unpacking at my destination and I don’t have to think about the events of every day in advance. However, when I have a one or two night stay prior to a cruise, I like to pack by day and have complete outfits readily available. That way I have what I need in one convenient place without having to go through my entire suitcase. A better idea is to pack this one-two day supply of clothes in your carryon to eliminate the need to open your suitcase at all. An added benefit to adding complete outfits in your carryon is you have a supply of emergency clothes in the event of delayed or lost luggage.
Do you need to choose a color scheme?
My answer is definitely, yes. I recommend choosing two colors to focus on. For example, navy and gray or black and tan are nice combinations. Think about the clothes you have in your closet that you tend to gravitate toward for easy matching and comfort. Staying within your two basic colors allows you to pack a couple of bottoms with some print tops to change things up. I use the following trick to dress up a bit for evening dinners: pack a pair of black pants with a couple of basic black tops that you can accessorize with a pretty scarf or necklace and you have a new outfit for each night.
What about shoes?
Limiting your wardrobe colors for your trip makes it easy to choose which shoes to bring. Pack only two pairs if possible, comfortable shoes for day and dressier ones for night. Some people like to bring two pairs for day such as sneakers for walking and comfortable sandals for the pool or beach. If you must bring boots with you, and some of us really love our boots, plan to wear them on the plane. They are too large and heavy to pack!
Better to roll or fold?
There seems to be some controversy over these two methods of packing. Having tried it both ways, I can safely say I don’t generally see a lot of difference in the final outcome. If I pack a top with embellishment, I do take extra care and use tissue paper to help keep the item wrinkle free. I like to add tissue paper between folds and also to cover these special tops before packing. Tissue paper is also great for packing men’s ties.
Do I really need to buy travel-size personal products?
We all know by now that any liquids we pack in our carry-ons must be travel size. The size is not an issue in checked baggage as far as being allowed, except full sized products take up a lot of valuable space! Do yourself a favor and purchase travel sizes of hair products, deodorant, body lotion, etc regardless of which bag you decide on for them. Or, get travel size containers to fill from the larger containers you use at home. Better yet, if you’re not picky, check before you go what’s provided by your hotel or cruise line. You may not have to bring some of these items at all. Some people buy small hair dryers to pack, but often this type of item is readily available at your destination too.
Should I make a packing list?
Many people like to make packing lists before they start to pack. For me, I pack as I choose what to bring, then make my list when I am almost done, which is generally the night before departure. My list does not include everything; it consists of those items I don’t like to pack until I’m ready to close the suitcase and head to the airport. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about like make-up, phone charger, IPad, pills, etc.
Why I love packing cubes
I left the best for last…packing cubes! I’m absolutely addicted to these squares of fabric. I love them so much so that I frequently buy them as gifts for fellow travelers. I discovered packing cubes several years ago and will NOT travel without them.
So why do I swear by these magic cubes? They are extremely lightweight, allow me to organize all my things, and come in various sizes and colors so each family member can have their own set. Most importantly, with these cubes, my clothes arrive exactly how I packed them and without wrinkles! I no longer find the contents of my suitcase in a jumbled mess when I arrive at my destination.
I like the cubes with a mesh insert on top so I can easily view what’s inside. The large ones are great for pants, shirts, sweaters, etc. I use the medium-sized cubes for items like pajamas, bathrobes, bathing suit cover-ups and workout clothes. The smaller sizes are perfect for undergarments. I also pack a complete outfit or two in a cube for my carry-on. These little miracles are also just right for cords and electronics, toiletries and much, much more. I haven’t yet tried the newer cubes with compression zippers, but I plan to buy some for my next trip to Europe. Friends tell me they can pack about 40% more in their suitcases with these cubes.
Happy packing and safe travels!
About the Author: Debra Kerper
Debra Kerper, CATA, ACC, has helped people explore the world since 1993. She owns Easy Access Travel, a Cruise Planners Franchise that is part of the American Express Retail Travel Network.
The goal of Easy Access Travel is to ensure that everyone, regardless of age or physical limitations, has the opportunity to travel. Debra, an older adult, has lived with lupus since age 20 and is a bilateral lower limb amputee. She travels extensively using various types of mobility aids (scooter, wheelchair, etc.). Debra speaks nationally about “How to Travel with Special Needs” and loves to share her expertise with everyone. Learn more at easyaccesstravel.com.