I have done a trip to Greece last year as well as multiple trips backpacking through the mountains. I have learned a bunch of tips on how to pack best for both of these kinds of trips, and I can say that in both situations they went flawlessly because I followed this list of tips. I wanted to share them with you so that you may have a similar experience traveling with your bags as well! (I will include links to items referenced on Amazon. Just click the word!)
· Use gallon sized ziplock baggies to compress clothes into a more compact bag. They are a much cheaper alternative to expensive vacuum bags and they will work better. Put your clothes in the bag and just sit on it to get the air out and then seal to save 50-60% of the space!
· Stuff shoes with socks, underwear, or something else that takes up a small amount of space. The insides of shoes are just wasting empty space otherwise.
· Pack the heaviest items on the bottom. This will prevent squishing lighter items as well as making your luggage more stable for transporting.
· Seal smaller things into a larger pouch to organize them instead of having them free flow throughout the bag. Most bags have compartments so use them! If you don’t have separate pockets get a smaller bag to organize so you aren’t losing or searching for these tiny but necessary things!
· Make a list of everything you will need (start in advance). Check off the items as you pack them. Then, take them all back out and re-sort them checking them off again. It will help make sure you have everything you need as well as sorting out where each thing is in your bags.
· Get a cocoon for managing wires, cables, adapters, etc… It is so worth it to have one of these so you don’t end up with a tangled mess of wires en-route. Plus, it makes it easy to quickly organize and later find what you need!
· Don’t take what you won’t need or use. We all too often go to a place with a bunch of luggage and when we are there we don’t even use half of what we brought. Try to figure this out before you leave. (if you are traveling to a warm place you probably don’t need more than one set of warm clothing if any at all)
· Pack for the weather you are traveling to. You won’t need a swimming suit in a Canadian winter. It doesn’t make sense to bring a down jacket to the desert. Plan for what you will be needing to wear and pack that. Minimalize your wardrobe and if you need more when you get there just buy it for souvenirs.
· Roll up your shirts and pants instead of folding them. I learned this from my Grandpa that if you roll up a shirt it is much less likely to wrinkle because there are no folds.
· If there are wrinkles in a shirt and you don’t have an iron there is still some hope. Hang up the wrinkled shirts in the shower (not in the water) and turn it on to the hottest setting. The hot steam will flatten out most wrinkles in 15-20 minutes.
· Pack the most important items that you may need to access fastest on top. You won’t want to be searching for anything if you can avoid it especially when traveling because you are stressed enough. Plan ahead with things like your documents, camera, computer, etc… that you will want to relax or need to get you from point A to point B.
· Slow down. Don’t throw things around hoping that all the essentials make it to where they need to. Think about it and keep a clear head. Make it a relaxing thing to do instead of a stressful task. Let it take up half of a day if it needs to or more.
· Don’t forget the essentials. As you go through a day make a note of what you use. Too many people forget to pack toothpaste, deodorant, underwear, etc… because it isn’t at the front of their mind.
· Dark clothes that serve a double duty are fantastic on the road. Darker colors won’t get dirty as fast and will save on space. Pants, shirts, and shoes that can be either formal or casual make it so you can double the space you would have had.
· Double check the weight and size of your bags. Airlines differ significantly from place to place on their requirements so looking out for what they expect can help you to avoid fees and headaches at the gate. Look at their website before you go to make sure your luggage meets their guidelines for size and weight.
· Less is almost always more. I have taken less in each trip than I did the trip before it. I took a duffel bag for a 10 day trip to Greece that was not full when everyone else had large rolling bags. I didn’t have to check my bags or put them under the plane at all. I never lost sight of it and I can’t say enough how awesome that was. Plus, I still had too much with me and I didn’t use quite everything (though it was very close).
· The right bag matters. A good bag can be a saver on a trip because its not a crappy bag. Crappy bags will ruin your trip in 2 seconds flat. I saw a guy 3 days into a two week trek break a shoulder strap on his bag. Why? He thought a cheap bag would hold up to the demand of carrying 50+ pounds several miles every day. The rest of his trek was spent nursing that backpack through the next 70 miles or so. Spend the money to get a good bag or end up spending more on crap bags till you learn your lesson.
· Battery packs are awesome! Traveling in airports and even more so in different countries there is no guarantee you can find an outlet to charge phones, cameras, and other gadgets. If you don’t want to get to your destination with no charge left pick up a cheap battery pack on Amazon.
· Mind your liquids. The lotion, soaps, perfume, water, etc… are all going to have to be individually bottled in a TSA approved clear bag if they are going to be in carry on luggage. Knowing this ahead of time will save loads of time and headaches from happening in the lines to get through the airport.
· Don’t take more than 3 pairs of shoes anywhere! A pair for dress, casual, and athletics should be plenty for anyone. Shoes are heavy and bulky and are all too often one of the items you end up not using enough to warrant brining more than these 3 pairs along.