There are more types of trips than one can count. Short trips, long trips, business trips, leisure trips – and with each kind of voyage comes a problem completely unique to your destination: what should you pack? Generally, people think more is better – after all, you tell yourself, you never know what you may need – but over the years I’ve learned the opposite is true. Of course, that’s much easier said than done. It’s not easy to par down an entire life into a single suitcase.
I’ve perfected the art of getting everything you need into the small amount of luggage you are allowed to tote on your flight. Whether you’re heading to Alaska or Mexico, the same principles apply. Follow these rules, and you’ll never arrive back home to face a suitcase of unused socks and dresses again.
#1 DO YOUR RESEARCH
Don’t automatically think, “Cuba is sunny and warm; it’ll be sunny and warm when I get there.” Even the sunniest of locations have their weather troubles, so you need to know what the climate will be like during the time you will be there. A light waterproof jacket with a hood will usually work in most situations, providing you with a layering option when it cools down at night or when rain decides to rear its ugly head.
#2 THINK IN TERMS OF OUTFITS
Decide on a colour scheme so that you can mix and match items together. Remember that you can wear a piece of clothing more than once, and when you mix it with another piece it will look totally different. When I’m getting my bag ready, I lay out everything I am considering on my spare bed to see what I can mix and match. Honestly, I tend to take many of the same pieces over and over again on vacation, simply because they work; think tank tops and solid skirts. Remember that if you are going on a beach vacation you will probably wear shorts first thing in the morning for breakfast and then never leave your swimsuit for the rest of the day.
#3 BE SMART WITH TOILETRIES
Invest in small refillable bottles and an industrial-strength black Sharpie. Instead of buying travel-sized shampoos and toothpastes – great ideas, but the prices are often largely marked-up – fill up these containers with your favourite personal care products and write their names plainly on the container. When you come home from your journeys, top them up and put them away in a place you will remember. Of course, if you’re in a rush, head to your drugstore’s travel aisle; I often look through this section to see what’s new, even if I don’t have a trip on the horizon.
#4 WEIGHT NOT, WANT NOT
I admit that I am a shoe lover, and I would love to bring as many pairs as possible with me everywhere I go. The fact of the matter is that they take up room, and multiple pairs can weigh down your case. No matter where you are going or how long you are travelling, take only two pairs of heels, one in a neutral colour and one in black. These will match most nighttime outfits you bring. In terms of casual shoes, sandals are light, flat, and don’t take up much room, but again limit yourself to one or two pairs. Lastly, wear your running shoes on the plane so they don’t take up space in your carry-on. (Plus, they really help in those madcap, “I need to get to gate B24 in seven minutes!” runs through the airport.)
#5 SAVE YOUR DRY CLEANING
Unpacking your suitcase to find that every piece you brought needs to be pressed is depressing to say the least. Instead of folding your wardrobe, rolling your dresses, pants, and shirts can help combat wrinkles; small items like bathing suits can even be rolled up and tucked into shoes to maximize your use of space. In the very least, pop delicate items into a dry-cleaning bag to keep them looking fresh. And remember that when trying to reduce the amount of ironing one must do on vacation, fabrics count for a lot – knits, for example, often travel better than cotton or linen.
#6 PACKING FOR TWO
If you are lucky enough to be travelling with your spouse or another member of your household, divide your clothes between suitcases. That way, if one suitcase is lost,you will both still have clothes to wear. Plus, let’s be honest: men generally do not take as much on vacation as women, so spreading the items between two suitcases will also reduce the weight you must tote around.
#7 PLAN FOR THE WORST
Your carry-on should always contain the things you will need if you are stuck without access to your luggage: a change of clothes and underwear, and your bathing suit and flip-flops if you are going to a sunny locale. Even if your luggage doesn’t get lost (fingers crossed!), if your hotel room isn’t ready when you arrive having your bikini on hand means you can get right into vacay mode.
BEYOND THE SUITCASE
There are plenty of things outside of your trunk that should be on your must-bring list. Go through this checklist as soon as you begin to pack – and triple-check before you leave for the airport.
Make sure the person you are travelling with knows where to find this information if needed.
DUPLICATES OF IMPORTANT PAPERS
Photocopy your passport and your credit cards and keep the copies in a safe place. It is faster and easier to get a new passport and cards issued if you have copies with you.
MORETHAN ONE PAYMENT METHOD
Always brings two different credit cards and never keep them in the same place. Put one in your hotel room safe and carry the other one. The same applies to money: never, ever carry all of it with you.
KAREN SCOTT is a member of the YYZ Travel Group, and loves travelling with her husband. Planning a getaway? Reach out to Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org