When it comes to trip preparation, it's difficult to overstate the importance of packing. After all, bring too little and you may leave behind something important. Bring too much and you risk unnecessary clutter, which makes living out of a suitcase for a week or two much less pleasant. Not to mention that the more you pack, the more you'll be lugging through airport terminals and hotel lobbies; overpacking can literally be a pain in the neck.
Luckily, more than 50 years in the travel business has taught our team a thing or two about effective packing strategies. We're excited to share a few of our game-changing packing tips to help you prepare for your own future travels and pack like a pro!
Make a packing list. If you’re like us, you’ve probably experienced that sudden moment of panic as you leave for a trip. “Am I forgetting something?” Minimize the uncertainty by creating a packing list. A thorough list keeps you on track and ensures that essentials aren’t left behind. It also helps you recognize what you truly need so you can avoid the temptation to bring more than necessary. Make your packing list at least a week in advance so you're certain it's comprehensive.
Know your limits. Carry-on dimensions vary depending on the carrier, so confirm your airline's policy before filling your suitcase. If you plan to check luggage, keep in mind size restrictions (no more than 62 inches when combining the length, width, and height) and weight limitations (50 pounds). Who wants extra baggage fees when you could be spending that money on souvenirs?
Bring clothes that can be mixed and matched. Maximize your wardrobe potential by limiting yourself to articles of clothing that can be worn more than once and paired with multiple items in your bag. This dramatically increases your wardrobe versatility and allows you to bring fewer items overall. It's also worth noting that when it comes to travel, material matters! Moisture-wicking outfits and wrinkle-resistant fabrics are excellent additions to any traveler's wardrobe.
Plan to dress in layers. Most travel itineraries (especially group tour itineraries) involve early morning hotel departures and activities that span well into the afternoon. To accommodate a day's worth of weather changes and temperature fluctuations, plan to dress in layers so you can easily adapt to whatever Mother Nature brings your way. Make sure you bring a collapsible umbrella so you're prepared for inclement weather!
Rethink your packing method. Rolling clothes takes up less space than folding them and prevents wrinkles. It also allows you to see more options in your suitcase at once. If you'd like to take your storage skills to a whole new level, consider investing in packing cubes or compression bags. These compartmentalize your luggage even further so you can capitalize on the space you have.
Shoes: bring a minimum of 2 pairs and a maximum of 3. Whether you're on the road for three days or three months, bring at least two pairs of shoes with you. Traveling involves a lot of walking, and alternating your footwear keeps blisters at bay. That being said, you shouldn't need more than three pairs of shoes. Bring a casual pair for everyday use, closed-toe athletic shoes, and a pair that can be dressed up for special occasions or nice dinners. The shoes you choose should be comfortable, broken-in, and offer good support.
Pack extra plastic bags. Plastic bags aren't only useful for storing liquids during the TSA's security check. They also come in handy for storing dirty clothes, jewelry and accessories, damp swimsuits, etc. Even if your next adventure doesn't involve air travel, store your liquids, gels, and powders in a plastic bag to prevent unintended spills from ruining other items in your suitcase.
Wear your bulkiest clothes on travel days. Bringing boots, a sweatshirt, or a jacket? Wear your bulkiest items while traveling. This makes the best use of the space in your suitcase and helps you save room for mementos on your way home. Plus, airplane cabins are often chilly, so you'll be grateful for thicker layers!
Choose a soft-sided carry-on. Soft-sided carry-ons are ideal for air and bus travel, since the flexible outer fabric allows for easier storage in tight spaces. Trust us, there's nothing more awkward than trying to muscle your suitcase into an overhead compartment while a line of impatient passengers waits behind you. Additionally, most group tours limit under-bus storage to one bag per traveler. This means carry-ons will either be stored at your feet or in the coach's overhead bin, which is often smaller than a standard aircraft compartment.
Pack like you'll lose your bag. We know. No one likes to think about the possibility of lost or delayed luggage. But preparing for any eventuality helps minimize stress and frustration if the unlikely does occur. Keep all essentials—toiletries, medication, electronics, and valuables—in your carry-on. We also recommend bringing at least one change of clothes on the plane, since delayed luggage sometimes takes a day or two to reach you. As for checked bags, keep a copy of your travel itinerary and contact information inside. This helps the airline ensure that your belongings reach you safely, especially if your schedule involves city-hopping. Use brightly colored ribbon, a luggage cover, or another unique identifier to make your suitcase more recognizable on the baggage carousel and to airport employees.
About the Author:
Kendall Ripley graduated from Hillsdale College in 2016 and has been working at Corporate Travel for almost three years. Born and raised in the Mitten, Kendall lives with her husband Shelby in Grand Rapids, MI. If pressed for a favorite travel destination, she would have to quote Audrey Hepburn from her favorite movie: "Rome! By all means, Rome."