Packing is the most challenging part of travel for me. In my mind, I want to keep it light. My favorite line is from the wonderful Peter Greenberg: “There are two types of luggage; carry on and lost.” This is on repeat in my head as I prep for a trip, but minimalist packing is easier said than done!
I open my suitcase, open my closet, and within minutes I’ve piled most of my shoes onto on my bed. Sure, I’ll need those boots that I only wear once a year…THIS is the trip. And what if we go hiking? Or to a fancy dinner? It might rain…
My husband rolls his eyes as I sit on top of my suitcase to close it. Then I return home days later with lots of untouched clothing and more than one pair of unworn shoes. Oops.
So, I’d love to hear everyone’s packing tips, ideas for fitting it all into a small bag, deciding what’s most important for trips (both short and long), and when is it ok to move to a bigger bag?
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Oh this looks like a great post for us who use roll-a-boards, and yes even my Wife can pack for a week in Europe in a standard roll-a-board.
And then we have ssindc, one of our resident camera carrying kids who just has to check luggage. We love you man!
Hey, IAHFLYR, I resemble that remark!!!!
For folks late to the party, or, of course, interested in KatieC's query , just check out this poll/thread:
I say: Carry on what you need, check the rest, and make the most out of your travel!
p.s. to each his/her own!
Great thread/poll, ssindc! It looks like most people carry-on or check luggage equally depending on the trip.
IAHFLYR - Tell your wife she is my hero. Just thinking about Europe for a week gives me packing anxiety.
One trick I have used in the past is bringing an older pair of shoes I am ready to lose/toss and then I throw them out when I pack to come home.
Hi KatieC -- As with your shoes, I have done "disposable packing" for at least 3 decades. I put things aside all through the year that I might take on any trip, things like socks that only have one more light wearing in them, or undies on their last leg, or a sweater that has been well-loved but it's on it's way out and too worn to donate to the local thrift shop. Before any trip, I go through this small pile to see if any of these items will work for the location and weather. Then I start the real packing with my good clothes. I bring the disposables, wear them, then toss them. This frees up space in my luggage for things like souvenirs or other items I may have procured on the trip (like more clothes). I usually come home with lighter luggage and feel I have gotten full potential out of those clothing items.
Best tip I have for my roll-a-board packing is to figure out what you really need weather wise for your trip. Lay out your clothes individually for each day and if an extended stay pick things you can wash out and that will hang dry easily.
If you do not need thick warm coat yet temps might be cool or even cold, grab a few thinner garments and layer as they take up much less space.
Footwear, do you really need three or four different shoes for a six day trip? Wear your most bulky shoes on the plane and pack another pair in your bag then fill the inside of the shoes with anything you can, socks, undies, any loose things like medications or power chords to minimize space taken up in the bag.
Roll and fold things very small in order to fit every spot in the bag.
It will work folks, be creative.
Heels and I guess you don't mean Tarheels as in UNC?
I've packed a few heels of Mrs. IAH and normally find the heel part will fit nicely into a corner of the bag and then you can continue to pack around them, that is if you haven't been out in the mud with them on.
The old shoes is a great tip KatieC and one which I just used in Cabo, but they were flip flops and stayed there so didn't get much space gain from that move. I do hope the Housekeeper was able to put them to good use.
“There are two types of luggage; carry on and lost.” - I could not agree with this more!!!
I am a carry-on only kind of girl and I pride myself on it. After a month-long (very, very large) backpacking backpack trip in Europe trip when I was 20, I will NEVER overpack again. Since then, I've done 3 weeks in Costa Rica with just a backpack, and I don't mean a backpacking backpack, I mean a small school girl backpack. I've also done a few trips to Europe with just a carry-on suitcase, which I think is the way to go - something on wheels.
I try to go with only one to two pairs of shoes, plus my running sneakers. If I'm going to be gone for more than a week, I pack for just one week and plan on finding a place to do laundry while I'm there. Most hotels offer this, and if they don't, nothing immerses you into a new culture like a coin operated laundry mat in town!
Great post melissaerb, and yes "baggage claim is the last chance for an airline to disappoint you"!
Interesting you mention backpack as I'm headed to a more northern destination for a couple of days soon and the temps are supposed to be in the upper 20's at night 45-50 daytime. I do not want to bring the roll-a-board just a backpack and nothing like what you mention with your backpacking backpack, this is more of a laptop backpack. I'm going to give it a trial run and see if I can get my sneakers, two sweaters and a pair of jeans (since shorts I must leave at home), a windbreaker type jacket that will take up no space and the other necessary items for that length of time gone. I'm feeling pretty good about being able to pull this off so stay tuned.
I'm a chronic overpacker! I always have so many clothes and shoes I didn't end up wearing.
Some great advice I've been given that I'm trying to incorporate is to pack actual outfits for the amount of days you're traveling that surround the activities you'll be doing. I need to stop packing options for different outfits because I'm setting myself up for unused items since I'm only going to end up choosing one! I'm very indecisive which is why I do that in the first place, but my excuse is that I just want to be prepared. I think about all the "what if's?" What if we go somewhere nice and I need to gauge if it's a casual skirt or dress type situation? What if I eat and drink too much and didn't bring my looser fitting jeans? You never know!
I'm traveling next week so I will let you know how this method works out (or most likely - doesn't!)
Update: I traveled for five days last week, so five outfits total were needed. I am pretty proud of myself for bringing 4 pairs of pants (mix of business & casual) as well as only bringing 6 shirts, so I left room for 1 alternate - this was a new record for me!
I also fit all my clothes, shoes & toiletries in the same bag, which included my sneakers & 2 sets of gym clothes! Packing light is awesome!!
I admit that I generally check my luggage (I get one checked bag free with United), even if I am taking a small rollaboard size, partly because of restrictions on liquids and mainly because I don't want to haul luggage around an airport when I have a layover...... My favorite packing trick is rolling the less bulky items and packing them in in e-bags. I bought the e-bags on Amazon. They come in lots of sizes, but I have found medium to be the most useful. I can pack a ton of tee shirts/tank tops in one, several pairs of pants or light sweaters in another, underwear,socks in a smaller size.......The e-bags keep everything organized, which is great if you are moving around and don't fully unpack the suitcase. Has anybody else used these?
I have. They do save space, and nothing really got wrinkled (which I though was remarkable). I took two outer winter coats to Euroland last year, and also to DC, come to think of it (because I just had to have "one for the blue color scheme and one for the black" ) and the space bags worked well. I will say though, in the future, one coat, one color. Me to myself: "Get over it."
Well you know what Delta stands for: Do Not Expect Luggage To Arrive. My favorite packing trick is to stay at a MVCI property or a resort that has a washer and dryer and only bring a couple of outfits for each family member, then do a load of laundry or two during the trip. If you don't mind spending the money, the higher end hotels will pick up your laundry and do it for you for a fee. One of my colleagues used that service on a Viking River Cruise, and it worked great. Yes, that takes time and/or extra money, but it beats schlepping giant bags across ORD or the Indian Subcontinent, or wherever you are going. And then you aren't hauling a bag of dirty laundry home with you.
I don't mind that laundry service costs extra money, after all it is a service and hotels should make a reasonable profit on the services that they provide.
I do object to the excessive prices that many hotel charge for laundry service. At one European Marriott, the prices to launder were almost what I had paid for the garments that were laundered.
I'm a minimalist when it comes to packing. Never go with more than a carry-on. I have two, on 22", the other 18". Trips longer than a week mean the larger bag. Most clothes can be worn more than once. Laundry is always an option when traveling.
If I think I might be bringing home extra stuff, I'll pack a duffel bag at the bottom of my carryon that I fill with dirty clothes and check.
The best advice I have is to set out what you think you need and then only pack half of it. Odds are you'll be fine.