I just got back from a two-week trip in Estonia and I'm off on a 12-day adventure of Norway in another few weeks, and if there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that packing right and packing light are absolutely essential.
I love to travel. I always have, every since I was a little girl and my parents told me stories of their escapades in the Italian countryside. I went on my first international trip was I was 12 to Paris, France, where I fell in love with traveling and never looked back. I've learned a lot since then, and collected quite a few tips and tricks that make traveling easier.
1. Pull out everything you want to bring. Now put a third of it back.Giphy
You will not need nearly as much as you think you will.
2. You can wear jeans multiple times.Giphy
Jeans are a great example of a multi-use item that's perfect for those wanting to get a lot out of a little.
3. Most all hotels have toiletries you can use for free so unless it's absolutely essential that you have a specific brand/type, leave the bottles of shampoo and conditioner at home.
And unless you're going camping or somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, chances are there is a convenience store located near you that should have any essentials you need and couldn't/forgot to pack.
4. And for the toiletries you are bringing, keep them travel sized, even if they are not in a carry-on bag.
Bulky bottles take up too much space, and you almost never use all of it. Travel sizes are super easy to find too, just ask for some the next time you go to a hairdresser, always take the extras at the hotel, and if need be, small sizes are always available in convenience stores like CVS.
5. Roll your clothes instead of folding them.Giphy
Amen. Yes, it does make the shirts rather wrinkled, but if that is truly a problem, maybe consider investing in a small bottle of wrinkle releaser that works wonders and won't take up too much room.
6. Keep all of your essentials with you in your carry-on, just in case your luggage is lost or stolen.Giphy
My mom has lost her luggage more than once on a certain airline, and so I can't stress the importance of this tip enough. Plus it makes traveling easier when you can get to your essentials quickly.
7. Maybe invest in some packing cubes.
Not only will they make packing and putting everything in your suitcase much easier, they also make unpacking super simple! On a study abroad trip, my roommate just pulled these out of her bag and her things were immediately organized and super easy to find (whereas I took three times as long to unpack and get everything organized in our room). Check these out!
8. Make sure all your clothes match. That way, you have multiple outfits out of just a few different items of clothing.Giphy
Another way of looking at it is to make sure you "pack by outfit"-meaning every piece of clothing will get worn because it's part of a predetermined outfit.
9. If possible, try to use a soft bag so the shape conforms with wherever you need it to fit.Giphy
Shoving a canvas bag under your seat is much easier than a hard rolling suitcase.
10. Be mindful about shoes!
Shoes take up a crazy amount of space, so make sure you can wear each pair you bring multiple times and that each one is absolutely ESSENTIAL. Seriously, lugging around a pair of heels that took up half my backpack but I only wore once was no fun at all.
11. Have an extra bag handy for dirty clothes.
In fact, hotel closets are some of the best places to find these. Those drawstring fabric bags common in hotels are perfect for any traveler's needs. And it makes for much easier sorting when you get back home.
If this is a beach trip or any sort of trip where a wet bathing suit will be involved, try to also bring a small plastic bag for transporting bathing suits that may not be completely dry yet.
12. Have a travel bag packed in advance.Giphy
By a travel bag I don't mean a suitcase, but a small bag of essentials for the airplane/car/etc. Some people need their neck pillow, others always need a good lip balm handy, but whatever the case, have a bag of it all packed and ready to go a few days before your trip. That way, there's less stress for the small things the day before, when you're packing up the big things.
At the end of the day, just know it's going to be okay. You may forget something, but it won't be the end of the world. You may not be able to pack that extra shirt, but the trip will still go smoothly without it. Don't let packing overwhelm you before the trip itself has even begun.
I wish you all safe and happy travels, and I hope your packing is as painless and stress free as possible.