In case it isn’t clear from my mutterings, I love to travel. I spent about six months as a flight attendant
crossing off Life Bucket List Item #23 (Have a job I really enjoy) and I’m forever trying to cross off Life Bucket List Item #1 (See the world). I know hostels, 5 star hotels, airbnb, couchsurfing, camping, road trips, long flights, quick flights, small boats, big cruise ships, buses, trains, beaches, cities, hiking, business class and that’s all I can think of.
Which is all to say that I think I know a thing or two about the intricacies of packing. Here is what I’ve learned.
Tip 1: Use a packing list
I know you’ll be shocked to learn that I utilize a packing list. I love it. This list murdered the nagging anxious voice in my head that pestered me about possible items I forgot to bring. When that voice died, so much of my apprehension surrounding travel died. I feel prepared and ready and confident and loved when I look at my packing list. I know that puts a lot of pressure on this one little list, but it holds up to that burden surprisingly well.
If you would like to feel prepared, ready, confident and loved, you can use my list. I’ve posted a template here. I know it’s tailored to a woman with no children, but you can save a version and make it your own.
Tip 2: Roll your clothes instead of folding them.
Rolling your clothes lets you play “tetris” with your items. You’ll fit way more into your suitcase that way. Of course if you’re going on a business trip, keep in mind that your clothes may wrinkle more that way. But that’s why hotels have irons and ironing boards, no?
Tip 3: Place dryer sheets in your suitcase.
I love the smell of dryer sheets. If you tuck a couple of them in various spots in your suitcase, all your traveling possessions will smell like a summer garden and not like your dirty, rolled clothes.
Tip 4: Mesh bags are a worthy purchase.
I’ve directed you to only one other purchase on this blog, the ghost grid graph paper for the wall chart I used for my financial independence project. My second recommended acquisition are these mesh bags if you travel frequently. I keep my clean undergarments in one and another for “worn clothes.” I can then just throw everything into a washing machine.
Tip 5: Before you close the door behind you, make sure you have your top three most important items.
When you’re leaving for the airport/bus/train whatever, do a quick three-second check that you have your top three most important items, the items that would seriously hinder your trip if you forgot them. My items are my passport, my credit card and my phone. Everything else can be replaced easily enough.
Tip 6: Do a room check before you leave your current city for the next city.
I place my suitcase upright by the hotel room door (or wherever I’m staying) and I say out loud “room check… room check… room check…” as I wander through making sure I have everything. I check the safe, the outlets for my chargers, the bathtub, the drawers, the sheets and anywhere else I might have left something behind.
Tip 7: Don’t waste time worrying IF something will go wrong. Spend time problem-solving WHEN something goes wrong.
Right, so this isn’t exactly a packing tip. This is a life tip in general. Shit happens. Stuff will go wrong. Every trip that I’ve ever taken included some sort of mini-disaster. There is absolutely no use worrying about what will go wrong. You won’t know. You can’t guess. You can only deal with it when it happens. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
This is my mantra. I have taken several large oversea trips and I remember I used to lay in bed obsessing and nervous, wondering if I was going to wake in time, if I forgot to pack anything, if I was sure I even wanted to go still. Now when those thoughts crowd my brain, I remind myself of my motto. I refuse to waste time and brain cells worrying IF something will go wrong. I trust myself to problem-solve WHEN something goes wrong. You’re an intelligent person. You should trust yourself too.