Thriftygal’s Packing Tips!

By | January 25, 2016

In case it isn’t clear from my mutterings, I love to travel. I spent about six months as a flight attendant

I would make such a good penguin.

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? 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. 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.

14 thoughts on “Thriftygal’s Packing Tips!

  1. KangSik, Seo

    The timing is important also when we take the flights. lol.
    Thanks for nice tips-

  2. Andy

    Great post! I laughed out at the hover text… because it’s true, you really do love that video =) It’s a pretty great one though to be sure. I like the mention about fears regarding big trips and how you might second guess yourself and think “maybe I shouldn’t do this.” I remember feeling that way earlier in life about it. It’s definitely worth pushing through to get out there and see the world for yourself. It definitely gets easier the more you do it.

  3. Tissue King

    I enjoyed the post. I travel quite often, mostly for business and I used to have to get things shipped to my house because my family or even myself left stuff in the hotel rooms. I like the check the outlets, this could have saved my once in Wyoming. I like to turn on all the lights in the hotel room and go area by area of the room and inspect for my junk. As I finish checking an area I just turn out the light. When all the lights are out, I’m good to go.

  4. Harri

    Glad I’m not the only absent-minded out there. I have a mnemonic (in Finnish, my native tongue) to remember my essentials when I exit home or hotel: wallet, keys, cash, phone, cards (keycard, public transportation card). And room check is so important…

    I use vacuum bags for clothes. You roll the clothes in the bag, which lets out all (well, most) of the air. They take much less space than just packing them flat. Not sure if rolling is more/less efficient, but the bags don’t cause much wrinkles. Sold in camping goods stores.

  5. Ahmed

    Good morning! I think your list is too long.. and definitely for a girl! 😉
    I don’t need the quantity of everything for the cloths, socks and underwear and after traveling for many years, i realized, as you said, you can get by even if you forgot things long as you have the basics (phone, passport, Credit card)

    Toiletries should be in a “travel toiletries bag” that is separate from the home one, this way I dont have to worry about shaving kit and toothbrush.. advil etc
    I like the bags idea .. already ordered them on amazon..
    and here is a video of how I pack my suit when traveling for business so that they don’t get wrinkled

    and if you are going to chech-in you bag, have a change of cloths in your carry-on just in case…

  6. Mohan

    Would like to eat more oat meal, but not too fond of the the western way of consuming it. Packaged versions found in Indian grocery stores are too salt and preservative rich. Does your mother have a recipe that you can share?

  7. Just Doug

    Having done a RTW trip, I agree with pretty much all of this.

    The mesh bags are wonderful- very helpful in compartmentalizing everything while keeping it together so it’ll actually fit in the suitcase. It’s much easier to load 3-4 bags in your suitcase than all the things separately.

    Another thing I’d say is just pack less in general. The more you travel, you realize that more stuff to lug around just gets in the way, and you don’t need it. Living out of a backpack for a year made a minimalist out of me.

  8. Adventures With Poopsie

    I recently went on a trip to Tasmania with a friend and she used the mesh bag tip to store her undergarments (one for clean, one for dirty). I was very impressed and it’s definitely something I will use in the future.

    I also happen to be a woman with no children, so thanks for the template!

  9. Ellen

    You worked as a flight attendant to cross off your bucket item list ‘work at a job I really enjoy’. Now that calls for a blog post! I’d love to know how that worked out, did you really enjoy it? Was it hard to get this job, after all you had quite a curriculum…? I sometimes dream of working as a flight attendant when my job bores me, but I tend to put if off as impossible and/or not-enjoyable after all (whining people, smelly people etc).


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