Packing for an upcoming trip can seem tedious and a little daunting. What happens if you forget your favorite article of clothing? Or worse - your toothbrush! What if you overpack for your trip? Don't worry, we are here to make packing a simple and easy task.
While some of us may find it fun, packing should definitely not be the highlight of your trip. Alyssa is an expert when it comes to packing, and has passed on some of her tricks and tips to Jackie.
Here are our best tips to make packing for a trip efficient and successful:
Make a list of your absolute essentials as you are using them, the week before you depart for your trip.
Jackie: Make sure your absolute essentials list is easily accessible, so you can whip it out when you notice you need something. I always like to use my phone, but you can use a post-it that you put in your purse, or a mini dry-erase board that hangs on your wall.
Alyssa: Or better yet, a Google Doc.
Jackie: The list should include things such as your toothbrush, face wash, PHONE CHARGER - all of which you normally have to pack last minute, and will most likely forget. I almost always forget my phone charger because it is usually hidden behind a side table or dresser, and then I’m out $10-20 when I get to my destination.
Alyssa: Or better yet, if you are a frequent traveller, have an “essential stash”(duplicates of your essentials), set aside and ready for every trip. These are things such as a travel toothbrush, mini deodorants, hair ties, etc. that you use regularly, so you know you will need them no matter what sort of trip you go on.
Make sure you have a high-quality bag to transport your things in.
Alyssa: The first time I visited Southeast Asia in October 2015, I was so excited because I bought an awesome “backpacker’s backpack”. You know which one I'm talking about, the big bags that all of your favorite Instagram accounts are wearing as they trek through a city. I was gone for 2 weeks, and everyone was worried that the bag wouldn't hold all of my clothes. I certainly proved them wrong.
Jackie: Alyssa’s parents gave me the same exact Kelty Redstone 70L backpack as my graduation gift, and I absolutely love it. It allows enough room to carry about 3 weeks of clothes, has front straps to provide back support, and many zippered pockets attached. My favorite part of the bag was that it zipped on both the top and the bottom, so I could easily reach what I need.
Alyssa: Jackie was pretty hesitant about getting a brand new bag for a trip (because she was thinking she would only use it once). But here was no way my sister was going on an 18 day trip with me without the best backpack ever! I was so happy when my parents suggested buying it for her as a graduation gift.
Put the things that you are going to use most frequently in easy-to-reach places on your backpack or suitcase.
Jackie: This was really helpful when I needed my hair brush after a 15 hour flight (yuck.) When considering what you want to pack in the outside pockets of your bag, think about the list that you made in Tip #1.
Alyssa: Most of the time, when I reach my destination, the first things I will need out of my bag are my toiletries and my pajamas (because I usually don’t touch my bag until it’s time to go to bed.) I make sure they are what I need for the night is sitting at the top of my bag, because after traveling all day, the last thing you want to do is search through your entire bag for one thing.
Jackie: I learned this the hard way, when I packed my bag by article of clothing (all of the shirts together, pants together, etc.). Taking out everything and having to repack is the absolute worse - especially after a long day of traveling!
Plan your outfits in advance.
Alyssa: This may seem like what your mom would say, but it's probably one of the best tips I could give. If you are gone for 6 days, you won't need 6 pairs of pants (with exceptions for business trips), so you need to plan what shirts would go with what pair of shorts.
Jackie: For our trip to the Caribbean, Alyssa packed our little sister’s clothing (every item - from socks, underwear, to the shirts and shorts) in separate gallon zip bags and labeled the days on them. I first thought it was a little OCD, but it actually worked out really well (and I secretly wished I did the same thing!)
Alyssa: I like to go with a 2:1 pants:shirt ratio for trips under one week and a 3:1 pants:shirt ratio for trips over a week. As for underwear and socks, I like to pack 1 emergency pair for every 4 days (because who wants to risk dirty underwear or socks?).
Jackie: It’s the worst!!
Don’t be afraid to bring cute stuff - not just athletic-type clothing!
Alyssa: When I went to Asia for the first time, I was so focused on my research, that I packed simple t-shirts and yoga pants; no makeup, no jewelry, no hair accessories. Just plain old daily athletic gear so I could get the job done. Upon arrival, I instantly regretted it. I was visiting all of these amazing places, and I felt so disgusting getting my picture taken in “blah” clothing next to such incredible buildings and sceneries.
Jackie: For our graduation trip, if Alyssa didn’t force me to bring “cute” clothes, I would have just brought athletic shorts and t-shirts. But I’m really glad she did, because the pictures came out so much better! I actually looked put-together!!
Alyssa: Also, if you are going to water-oriented locations (islands, tropics, etc.), bring multiple swimsuits; for three reasons: 1) so that every picture taken of you is not you in the same swimsuit everytime, 2) in case you lose one or it gets damaged (you don’t want to miss out on a fun activity because you no longer have a swimsuit) and 3) drying your clothes can be hard when you’re on-the-go, so your swimsuit may still be wet and sand-covered by the time you want to use it again.
Make sure you check your airline’s weight limits beforehand.
Alyssa: Most airline companies set the weight limit at 50lbs (approx 22.5kg) for checked luggage, but some will be a little sneaky and only allow 40lbs. It’s easy to avoid this mishap by simply googling “(Your airline) luggage allowance”.
Jackie: We barely made it when we went to Southeast Asia!! What I wish we would have done is buy one of those small weight clips you can get at Target to check the weight of your bag.
Alyssa: Don’t forget to check about the weight, size and amount of carry-ons as well. I’ve had to stuff a carry-on bag into a checked bag because I had “too much stuff” (is that even a thing?!).
Take your day bag seriously.
Alyssa: As a photographer, this is a super important part of packing. I’ve found it easiest to have my bag act as a camera bag and a purse at the same time. For easy access to my camera, I prefer it to be an over the shoulder bag.
Jackie: An over-the-shoulder bag or purse is also great for when you are exploring and want to leave your backpack or suitcase in the hotel or hostel. Your back will thank you! Also, you are less likely to attract pickpockets, and less likely to lose your bag!
Alyssa: Since I only have one carry-on bag (because my purse and camera bag are one entity), I buy a cheap over-the-shoulder bag from wherever I’m visiting that will only hold souvenirs the entire time. So when I board my flight back home, my checked bag has no extra weight, and I only have 2 carry-on bags (which is usually the limit).
Being plus size means needing a bag with a little more space (or packing less).
Alyssa: It sucks but it's true. The average XL shirt is twice the size as a S shirt. It is necessary to take this into account when packing your bag. Your friend was able pack 10 shirts in her backpack? You will need to budget 5-7 shirts in the same bag. Don't let this upset you, just use it as a reminder that your bag space is precious and you should eliminate unnecessary items. Still want to bring that curling iron? Ask your friend to carry it, she may have the extra space.
Jackie: One thing that Alyssa and I did to save space in our bags to put the shampoo in my bag, and she put the conditioner in hers, and we shared both of them. That eliminated us having to bring both a shampoo bottle and conditioner bottle, adding a little extra room in our bags.
Don't be afraid to personalize your bag.
Jackie: Alyssa bought flag patches for every country she has visited (there are a lot!) I really wanted mine to look as cool, so we bought some for my backpack! Throughout the entire trip, we had people come up to us and ask if we had really been to all of those places.
Alyssa: We also have our monograms embroidered on the top of our bags. If the flags weren't enough to differentiate our bags from the rest at the airport, the giant monogram was sure to do the trick. We would advise against using your name (especially your whole name) because that allows someone to call out after you or pretend that they know you.
We hope we were able to make packing for your next trip a little simpler (and maybe a little more interesting!) If you have any questions about packing, what bag to buy, what to leave behind, etc., feel free to shoot us an email through our “Contact Us” page.
Keep an eye out this Friday for our second Feature Friday blog post! We are so excited to share up-and-coming travel Instagrams with you guys, so please make sure to check out their pages!