I just departed for another long trip – about 7 weeks this time. The New York Times once said the worst part of travel is booking it on the web . For me, the worst part of a trip is packing luggage for it. I hate it – it’s stressful, I always think I’m going to forget something, and I never know if I have too many warm clothes, not enough warm clothes, too much of this or not enough of that.
Well, as I moaned about this publicly, it seems everyone is interested in what I do when I am packing luggage. So, I thought I would share my thoughts and tips on how to pack a suitcase like a travel ninja.
Less is More
Number one cure for any of your packing luggage and suitcase woes: less is more, people! Seriously, underpack. What they say is true: you can always buy what you need when you get there. A lighter, smaller bag means less strain on your body pulling it around with you, less worry at the airline check-in desk, and just less hassle overall. Travel More by taking less.
Stumped by this one? Here are some ideas:
- Work with the rule of “three” – which says that you have three of everything. So you have a pair of socks you’re wearing, a pair you’ve washed drying in the hotel bathroom, and a spare pair to keep you going. This configuration might change depending on where you are but it’s a good plan. I’m testing out quick dry travel gear from Exofficio and Tilly. So far so good, but will wait a few more weeks before issuing a final verdict.
- I just heard a story about a couple who scour their closets for clothes they don’t want anymore then they travel with these. As they use clothes, they throw them away or wash them and give them away to charity. So as they go they end up with less. It’s worth a try.
- Go with layers, so that you can re-use items. If you’re not sure how cold it will be, then instead of the super-bulky coat, take two different items that could combine together, such as a fleece and a jumper? When you can layer, a set number of items turns into a number of combinations.
Remember: packing luggage = less is more!
Don’t Forget Your Healthy Stuff
Your health is very important, and even moreso on the road – who wants to be ill? I take the approach of aggressive defence for any germs and make sure that I carry anything I might need to ward off sickness, especially things like vitamins and stomach medicines. It’s nice to have these things on hand instead of trying to figure out a) what the pharmacy is called in the local language, b) finding out where one is. At least have a few things that can stave off an emergency, especially if travelling solo. And packing luggage is not complete without my personal salvation on the road: my two tennis balls. They’re the perfect cure for a sore back and butt after long travel – it’s a uber-compact DIY massage kit. Two is all you need. Bring ’em. Roll on ’em. You’ll thank me later.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
People spend hours and hours trying to find their preferred toiletries in travel sizes, as well as decanting their potions and lotions into smaller bottles to navigate the mess we call airport security. Well, many will disagree with me, but if it’s that big of a hassle, just check the damn bag and stop spending a week packing luggage. I hate the travel toiletry size because I run out of stuff in such small bottles. The same goes for trying to buy a new compact travel journal, or trying to find the perfect suitcase with all the bells and whistles. Does it really need to be that complicated?
Ninjas: What are your packing luggage tips?