Image source: Flickr - Tom Godber
Packing for a trip can easily be one of the most stressful situations for travelers, especially those who may not travel frequently. Adopting some proven packing tips from seasoned travelers, though, can go a long way in easing pre-trip anxiety and help to ensure you aren't hit with extra baggage fees. Here are some tips to help you with packing clothes for your next trip.
Even regular travelers find themselves over packing for a trip, so don't feel like you're alone. Many travelers recommend that you lay out all your clothes and take a second look to determine if you really need everything you are hoping to pack. Can you do away with a pair of pants or skirt? Or how about sticking to one color family so you can reduce the number of shoes you need to bring? Shoes tend to take up the most space and, in the case of many women's heels, they can also be quite heavy.
Speaking of shoes, pack small toiletries, socks, or other small items inside your shoes. It's unused space, relatively protected, and an ideal way to keep small items from bouncing all over your suitcase during transit.
One of the easiest ways to stretch the limits of your suitcase's capacity is to roll your garments. Taking the additional time to roll each item not only expands your luggage space, but it can keep your garments from wrinkling.
If you have access to a vacuum and really need to pack a lot, especially bulky items like winter coats or sweaters, consider space saver bags. Put your bulkiest items inside and, using a vacuum hose, you can literally make piles of bulky clothes into flat bags that fit nicely in your suitcase. The only challenge may be tracking down access to a vacuum for your return trip.
While layering and wearing heavy shoes can sometimes be a hassle at the airport, the weight and space you save in your luggage may be worth it. People who need to carry hiking boots and a bulky jacket often forego packing these items and opt to wear the boots and carry the jacket onboard the plane.
Another option versus packing a ton of clothes for a long trip is to research what laundry facilities are available. Vacation rentals, many resorts and certainly nicer hotels offer laundry service either full-service or self-service. Cruise ships also have laundry services - pay attention as they typically offer a special deal like a fixed price for as much as you can fit in their bag.
Although many carriers are scrutinizing the size of carry-ons as passengers try to skirt checked baggage fees, make use of the space you are rightfully allowed. Except for budget and deep-discount airlines, the usual allowance is one carry on and a personal item. Do not waste your personal item carrying a small purse stick your purse inside a bigger tote or computer bag. If you want to really maximize what you can carry on, look for specially designed clothing geared towards travelers, featuring lots of pockets and compartments for electronics and other items that can take up a lot of space.
If you have extra room, pack a flat duffel bag you can throw your dirty clothes in for the return trip home. Often times, that extra bag comes in handy after too much souvenir shopping while on a vacation. Sometimes, it can be better to pay the additional checked bag fee if your luggage turns out to be overweight on the return flight. It's better to have a safety net rather than scrambling at the airport for an overpriced last-minute option.
Packing liquids and other toiletries in with your clothes can sometimes result in disaster. If things accidentally break in transit, TSA doesn't repack your items the same after an inspection, or a lid gets opened, you can find yourself with a suitcase full of stained and/or perfume-scented clothes. Place your liquids in heavy-duty Ziploc bags and, if your suitcase has a plastic zipper case, pack them there. If something does break, you have several layers of protection from your clothes.
If you are traveling with someone else or have room in your carry on, spread out your clothes between multiple suitcases in case your luggage doesn't arrive at the same time you do. Speaking from personal experience, starting out a two week Mediterranean cruise with only the clothes on my back was a huge learning experience.
What are some of your best packing tips?
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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