Going on vacation is a liberating experience. Packing for your vacation, though… well, travel packing is another matter altogether. If you don’t plan your travel packing carefully, you may be unnecessarily stressed on the day you depart (likely because the old “sit on the luggage to zip it” trick didn’t work). Think of the irony: you’re going on vacation to get away, and yet you’re trying to take all of your worldly belongings with you? And in a carry-on? As Susan Powter is known for saying, “Stop the insanity!”
It’s time to make your travel packing easy. Just because you can fit everything you own into your rolling suitcase doesn’t mean you should try. (Your back agrees with us.) It can also be tough to keep up with the changing security rules and regulations at airports if you are flying. With the help of About.com and Forbes Travel Guide, we’ve compiled a list of travel packing tips sure to make your vacation preparation smarter and less stressful. As a bonus, you’ll also avoid receiving the evil eye from fellow travelers who don’t have time for you to heft a whole 5-piece luggage set onto the airport shuttle.
Travel Packing Tips for Airline Travelers
Not all airlines have the same size requirements for carry-on luggage. As part of your travel packing prep, check your airline’s website to find their restrictions.
When you plan your travel packing for carry-on only, remember that carry-on baggage is one small piece of luggage you take on the plane, and you can also take one small personal item in addition. This one personal item is not to be the same size as the carry-on. Instead, examples of personal items are laptops or camera cases, purses or small backpacks, and briefcases.
Don’t over-pack your luggage when travel packing. As sure as you do, Murphy’s Law says that’s probably when an airport security screener will need to check your bags. If there’s only one exact way to fit all 150 items back in that suitcase, you will be left to put the puzzle back together. There are also weight limitations, so be careful about how much you cram. It can cost you big in fees.
When planning your travel packing, put personal belongings in clear plastic bags so a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screener will only have to look at the bag and not delve into your things.
Follow the TSA 3-1-1 rule when travel packing: 3.4 ounce bottle or less; 1 quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger can be put in the screening bin. Each passenger can only bring one quart-sized bag. There are a few exceptions to the 3-1-1 rule and they can be found here.
Pack footwear on top of your other luggage contents to make it easier for security to check it.
If you are taking gifts with you, wait until you get to your destination to wrap them. TSA is not required to unwrap them, but if a bag sets off an alarm, security officers may have to unwrap the gift to take a closer look.
Travel Packing Tips to Save on Space and Stress
Look for unused nooks and crannies when you are travel packing. The pockets in your luggage aren’t the only way to maximize and organize your storage space. Your shoes are just containers that normally hold your feet. Instead, let them hold rolled up socks or underwear.
Speaking of shoes, pare down your selection. Travel packing is all about planning ahead, so you can’t take every pair of shoes “just in case.” When it comes down to it, a dressy pair and a comfortable, casual pair (tennis shoes, perhaps) are generally all you will need.
As Ivanka Trump shared with Forbes, “Instead of packing things as they come to mind, I pack for each day. That way I can take a more mindful approach to organizing my bag and crossing off things I don’t need.” Organizing your travel packing by day ensures you’re more mindful of what’s necessary instead of packing your whole closet and then picking out your wardrobe when you get where you’re going.
Forbes Travel Guide correspondent Melanie Nayer learned this important travel packing tip from a flight attendant friend: “Bulkier items (sweaters, jackets, etc.) should be folded flat at the bottom of your luggage, then roll everything else.”
Probably the greatest key to travel packing is acknowledging the versatility of jeans. These days jeans are appropriate almost anywhere, even in very nice restaurants, as long as they are paired with dressier shirts and shoes. Why pack three pairs of pants or two pairs and a dress, when jeans will do for every occasion?
Remember that it is ok to recycle what you are wearing. Shirts and pants can be worn more than once as long as you are not a messy eater. But seriously, no one will notice if you are wearing the same thing you wore three days ago. They’re more worried about their own wardrobe and whether anyone has noticed that they wore the same shirt the day before yesterday. A five day trip doesn’t mean your travel packing must include five different shirts and pairs of pants (although we still endorse taking five pairs of underwear).
When travel packing, choose a simple color palette and stick with it, whether it’s black, brown, navy, or even pastels. As long as the color family is the same, you can mix and match more readily and won’t have to take so many different items of clothing. This even narrows down the jewelry that would be packed.
Smart travel packing is an important part of having a fun and stress-free vacation. While it’s true that many hotels, such as The Beechwood Hotel, offer toiletries and a few other often-forgotten items, they can’t replace the favorite sweater or necklace you meant to bring or didn’t have room to pack. Take the time to be methodical about your travel packing and it will pay off in the long run.
Contact us at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester, Massachusetts, to plan your next vacation. We can also answer questions about the items we keep on hand in case you forget them. What are the best travel packing tips you’ve ever used? Join us in the comments section below and let’s discuss the best ways to make travel packing easy!