How to Pack for a Trip (and Keep Your Nerves at Bay)

You haven’t stopped talking about your upcoming trip since you booked your ticket, but the thought of packing is killing your mojo. We understand; packing can be daunting. It’s no wonder so many people push it off until the last minute. It’s not just what to pack, it’s also how to pack. Besides for the transit, packing is probably the biggest concern for travelers. But don’t worry! We’re here to ease your anxiety and help you get ready for that awesome trip.

1. Choose your luggage carefully

Are you traveling to a hotel and vacay-ing it up by the pool? Or are you going to be backpacking through cities and towns? Choosing the appropriate luggage is crucial when it comes to packing. You want something that you can identify (imagine trying to find your black suitcase among all the other black suitcases at baggage claim), and something that won’t be too hard to carry. A rolling suitcase is perfect if you’ll be on paved roads and sidewalks, but a backpack – with good back support – is better if you’ll be touring and jumping from spot to spot. Whatever bag you choose, make sure it is durable and not on its last leg. You don’t want to find yourself picking up all of your belongings when your bag suddenly splits open.

2. Write a list of what you’ll need

This is probably the most daunting part of packing, especially for those who aren’t the most organized. But even if lists aren’t a daily habit of yours, you should definitely write one for your trip. Having a list ensures that you won’t leave anything behind, and it’s also a good reference for keeping track of everything during your trip. Think about every item you might need. Will you need a jacket for the cold weather? Does the place where you’re staying provide sheets? Can you buy toiletries there or should you bring your own? Go through every step of the trip in your head and write down anything you might need from the moment you get on that plane until you head back home. Don’t forget to list the medications or ointments you’ll need. Once you’ve run out of space, go through each item and cross off anything you can live without, which leads me to my next tip…

3. Keep it to a minimum

That second sweatshirt or third pair of flip-flops is probably unnecessary. Especially if you’re moving from place to place, nothing is more annoying than hauling more luggage than you need to. We are all guilty of packing too much, but the reality is that we only need the bare minimum. Before you put something in your suitcase, just ask yourself, “will I really use this?” If the answer is no, don’t pack it.

4. Roll all of your clothes

While we’re talking about minimizing, let’s talk about consolidating. Rolling clothes saves more room than folding them, and doubling space – like putting socks in your shoes – can save tons of room in your suitcase. Vacuum bags are also an incredible space-saver. If you won’t have access to a vacuum on your trip, consider buying compression bags that don’t require one.

5. Gather your documents

The reason packing is so daunting is that we fear we will forget something. Many times you can get through your trip without that one item you forgot, but when it comes to your identity (e.g. your driver’s license or passport) you can’t afford to forget that. Email yourself copies of your documents so you’ll have access to them in case anything happens. Check that your passport has at least six months before it expires (or else you won’t be able to fly with it). While you’re at it, check to make sure the country you’re visiting doesn’t require a traveler’s visa. Depending on where you’re flying, you can get a visitor’s visa at the border, but other countries might require a pre-obtained visa before you land. It’s best to check what documents you might need the moment you book your ticket. That way you’ll have plenty of time to update any information or obtain any documents if necessary.

6. Keep your gear safe

Who hasn’t thought of the possibility of losing their luggage while traveling? Unfortunately, luggage gets lost or stolen a lot. The best way to prevent it from happening is to keep your luggage on hand at all times. If you can pack everything in a carry-on, do so. But if you have to check in your bag, consider a luggage zip-tie so you can tell if your luggage has been tampered with. This same principle applies to your electronic devices – always keep them with you. If you’re going to be using public WiFi on your trip (whether on the plane or at your destination) you’ll also want to protect yourself from hackers and viruses. The last thing you want is to get have your credit card or identity stolen while you’re supposed to be relaxing and having fun. A VPN can protect you and secure your information even if you’re using public WiFI. (Don’t know how a VPN works? Read this.) If you’re heading to a country with internet restrictions (like China, Vietnam, and Thailand to name a few) you’ll need to purchase a VPN beforehand in order to access certain websites. Our top recommended VPNs are perfect for ensuring your identity and information remains safe while you travel and explore.

Nothing can damper your excitement before a trip like packing, but by preparing in advance and ensuring your items remain safe, you’re bound to have an awesome and smooth trip. Happy traveling!

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