” The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Traveling for me is many things: therapy, self-care, relaxation, empowerment, enlightenment, and so on. Travelling is a way to broaden your horizons and enrich your soul with memories and experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It will change how you see the world and how you relate to your fellow human beings.
But traveling can quickly become a stressful nightmare if one jumps in haphazardly without proper preparation. Packing and deciding what to bring or leave behind is key to ensure a blissful vacation. It can easily become a stress inducing chore if one ends up packing and unzipping luggage until the last minute. If you have experienced indecisiveness before, or you would like to avoid it altogether, some tips should be kept in mind that will guarantee smooth sailing.
The biggest mistake people often make right off the bat is over packing. Not only does this lead you to drag around cumbersome weight, shuffling endlessly through bags to find that one elusive charging cable, but it is also wholly unnecessary for a peaceful and relaxing trip.
What Kind of Luggage Should You Use?
As a first step, commit yourself to pack light and use small sized suitcases that you can confidently maneuver. There are no hard or fast rules on whether these must be hard cased or soft, each have their pros and cons. Hard-cased bags offer more protection and are often sleeker and streamlined. They will take a lot more wear and tear before giving out. They can also help avoid over packing as they do not expand as much as soft bags. Soft bags on the other hand can be lighter and usually offer additional pockets on the outside for quick access to your items. The choice depends on your personal preference, your destination and whatever terrain you may be dealing with on the trip.
One should however, certainly avoid two-wheeled rolling bags. These offer limited mobility as they often tip over or get stuck, especially if you are in a rush. Not to mention, once you get sick of it falling over all the time, carrying it will also be more difficult than a regular bag owing to the extra weight of the wheels and handles. The best solution is to own trusty four-wheeled rolling luggage bags, also known as spinners. These are omni directional, being able to spin 360 degrees with ease — an absolute must have if wheeled bags are what you decide to go with.
Keep the Destination in Mind
Once you have settled on your choice of bags, the next step is to research upon your destination in preparation for packing. You should be looking up the weather at your vacation spot as well as the general climate of the area. You can do Google searches or read travel reports, but the easiest way is to peruse social media sites like Instagram, to see what people are wearing and bringing with them. Simply search the location, look through photos, do not hesitate to comment and ask people for advice. Once you know the weather and climate, you will know exactly what kind of clothing items should be packed.
Packing the right clothing is absolutely essential — not only will it take up the most room in your suitcase, it will be the heaviest weight and can quickly become a dreadful experience, if not correctly organized and managed. Keep the length of your trip in mind as you start deciding on what you are bringing along. Apart from clothing, the most important items to pack are your toiletries, health essentials and the electronics we cannot live without, like our smartphones. The things you will want to ditch are the items that make you pause and think about whether you will actually need them — the ‘just in case’ things. If you find yourself asking this about something, plan on leaving it out and buying at the destination once you need it. This will save you lots of clutter, and hopefully, lots of headaches as well.
The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Rule
Now that you’ve decided on what kind of items and clothing you will need, a useful approach to begin packing for shorter trips is the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rule. This means five sets of socks and underwear, four tops or shirts, three items of bottom wear such as pants, two pairs of footwear, and one hat. This is just a guide, however, so do not hesitate to adjust it to your needs. For example, you may need swimwear if you are going somewhere with a beach, or hiking gear such as boots and windbreakers, if you plan on getting a little adventurous. Remember, the bigger your suitcase the more you will be tempted to fill the space inside and inevitably end up packing too much. To avoid this, always opt for a smaller or medium-sized bag.
So, you have your bag picked out, decided on your clothing and other essentials, the question now is how to get it organized in your suitcase? For shorter trips that are less than a week, you can get away with basic folding and packing techniques as you won’t need many clothing items. For longer trips, however, it is better to have a strategy on packing clothes to minimize the space being used up.
For clothing, rolling them tightly rather than simply folding them is the most hassle-free strategy to save space. You will be shocked at what a difference it makes if you are used to packing folded clothes. Using packing cubes is another excellent way to stay organized. If you have the time and patience, especially if going for a longer trip, then vacuum sealing can also be a boon. However, it is recommended to use this for cheaper stuff, as the compression can sometimes wear out the life of the fabric.
Toiletries are easy to pack as the key here is to keep them organized, so you can quickly find what you need. Use material that prevents or holds up in case of any accidental leakages. A small, dedicated bag especially designed for these items is the best way to go. You also want all toiletries isolated from other items, so you do not end up having any mishaps, like toothpaste splattered all over your favorite shirt. Zip lock bags can be very useful for this purpose; they prevent leakage, are clear so you can easily see your things, and they can be conveniently labeled with markers.
Your electronics should be packed in a similar way, using dedicated, specifically designed bags is the best option. Try to use only one bag, and having a clear or see-through bag will save time and hassle at any security checkpoints. The zip lock bag can again come in handy here. I have found having my electronics labeled was a great tip for quickly finding what I needed. If you have a lot of electronics, think about investing in a power bank and some backup chargers as well. You would not want to run out of power in the middle of an outing and miss out on some great photos. Extra cables can always be practical as well, not just for yourself but any companions you are traveling with.
The goal for your traveling is to have fun, relax and create memories! It is to get away from the mundane routines and worries of daily life for a little while. Packing lightly and using smaller bags might seem intimidating at first, especially if you are used to going heavy, but with some careful planning it can make all the difference. Long gone will be the stereotypical, hectic depiction of traveling we often see, instead you will experience what all of us really crave, a stress-free vacation that rejuvenates and leaves us satisfied and enriched. HH
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