If you remember NOTHING else about packing, these are my fast top things to do:
CHECK THE WEATHER
If you don’t know what the weather will be like, you will be screwed when you arrive.
If you have never been there before, check the averages.
ALWAYS BRING A LIGHT UMBRELLA
Always. ALWAYS. bring a light umbrella.
There are plenty of $10, super light umbrellas that won’t stand the test during a true storm, but will at least keep you sheltered from light rain and the like.
I can tell you that if you forget your umbrella once, you are not likely to do it again (it sucks having to try and buy yet another umbrella you don’t need, or worse, not being able to find one and needing it desperately).
Unless you are staying in a fancy hotel, an umbrella is not likely to be loaned to you.
ALWAYS BRING A LIGHT SWEATER
Even to hot countries in the summer. You’d be surprised how chilly it can get in some areas, even though it is blazing hot during the day.
At the very least, you can wear it on the plane when air conditioning seems to be at a max.
MAKE A PACKING LIST
- What I packed in a single carry-on to go to Europe for 2 months
- How to pack basic essentials for traveling
- Current travel essentials
Here’s an example of my packing list for electronics when I went away for a few months:
LAY OUT EVERYTHING IN FRONT OF YOU BEFORE YOU PACK
I do this before I pack my carryon, and end up discarding at least 25% of the suitcase because I went off my Packing List or started to become overzealous about everything.
PACK A PLASTIC ZIPLOC BAG FOR DIRTY / WET CLOTHES
I like large Ziploc freezer bags for this. They’re big, and they really zip up tight.
WEAR YOUR HEAVIEST ITEMS (SWEATER, BOOTS, JEANS) ON THE PLANE
Don’t wear your flip flops if you are also bringing shoes. Pack your lightest, smallest items away, and wear your heaviest things.
At the very least, you can take it off and put it on your lap during the flight, or leave it in your hotel room during the day.
PUT HEAVY ITEMS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SUITCASE WHEN IT IS STANDING UP
I like putting toiletries in a Ziploc freezer bag (or an equally sturdy plastic bag), and putting it in the FRONT of my carryon so I can just pull it out during security liquid checks and not have to unzip and dig through my underwear in front of everyone to find it.
Even better is if you have your toiletries ready to go in your in-flight bag (like a Longchamp Pliage Tote), and you just pack it away in your suitcase after you go through security.
Either way, make your toiletries stand up when your suitcase is upright to minimize any leakage or damage.
PLACE SHOES AROUND THE SUITCASE EDGE AND PACK THEM WITH UNDERWEAR / SOCKS
Shoes have space inside, make use of it. You also don’t need to keep shoes together in a bag unless they’re caked on with mud and dirt and you really shouldn’t separate them out of the plastic bag you put them in.
CHARGE EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU LEAVE & BRING ITS CHARGER
Set out all your electronics, make sure it’s all been loaded with everything you need to read, listen or watch, charge it all to maximum (especially your cellphone), and pack the electronic AND its charger when you are ready to go, so you won’t forget one or the other.