8 Ways To Become A Savvier Packer
On a cambio the hassle of finding your way around a new city is sorted, as the locals you stay with know your destination inside and out. Unfortunately some anxieties remain – like packing your suitcase before you depart. Maybe you’re one of those people who likes to pack everything and the kitchen sink…
Image Credit: whatthebuck20
Or maybe you’re just never able to make everything fit inside in an organised way.
If this is you, then you’re not alone. When I started travelling I’d do everything at the last minute, pack every item of clothing I owned and the inside of my bag was a disaster. However, after travelling to over 40 countries, often with just a single carry-on bag, I am now much wiser about the art of packing a suitcase. Here are some tips I wish I could have given my past self:
1. Don’t Leave Packing Until the Day of Departure
Start about a week before you’re due to depart and pack gradually, adding things to your suitcase each day. Work from a pre-written list and tick items off as you go. You can leave your toothbrush and shower-related items until the day you leave. The process of packing gradually will give you time to figure out if you have enough space (and to buy an extra bag if you don’t!), to reconsider whether you really need to pack that cute top you have in all three colours (one will suffice), and will give you time to think of anything important that you may have left off your list (see point number 8).
2. Roll Don’t Fold
Do you get frustrated when you can’t fit all of your clothes into your suitcase?
One option is simply to pack less (see number 7). Or, you could try this little tried and tested secret: roll your clothes instead of folding them. I can tell you from experience that this definitely works. When I travelled to Morocco recently with a friend, she had major issues fitting everything into her suitcase for the flight home, so I suggested that we roll her clothes instead. Low and behold, everything that she’d previously been unable to wedge inside suddenly fit perfectly! Unlike shoes or books, clothes can be made to fit into smaller spaces, and rolling jeans, cardigans, jumpers and t-shirts means you can get them into those narrow spaces and free up space for more cumbersome and odd-shaped items.
Bonus Tip: Scrunch up small items such as undies and socks and put them inside your shoes.
3. Prepare for Airport Security
Place anything that you think you might need to take out for airport security on top – like electronics and any liquids you are carrying (in see-through, sealable bags and in containers 100ml or under).
Bonus Tip: Security won’t confiscate your water bottle if there’s no water in it. Take an empty water bottle through security with you and simply fill it up in the bathrooms on the other side (provided you’re in a country where the drinking water is safe to drink).
4. Don’t Make Your Valuables Easy To Get To
While you should definitely put some things within easy reach, at the same time you don’t want to make it easy for people to steal your valuable items. Keep your passport, wallet and travel documents on you, with photocopies in a safe place (i.e. buried deep at the bottom of your bag).
5. Use That Carry On Space
If you’re taking a backpack or suitcase as checked baggage, then you’ll also get a carry on bag that you can take on board the plane. Check the dimensions beforehand (many airlines don’t look at your carry on bag, but others are so nit-picky that they’ll charge you a fortune if it’s over the limit) and take the biggest bag you possibly can that will fit. Fill it and use that space! And if you need more, purchase a candy bar at the duty free store and fill the rest of the bag they give you with your goods. Everyone is allowed to take a duty free bag on in addition to a carry on bag, so use this loophole if you need the extra space.
6. Wear the Heavy Stuff
Any heavy coats, shoes and items of clothing that take up a lot of room can be carried. I live in Sweden and when I travel home to Australia in the summer, where temperatures regularly reach 30+ celsius, I can expect something like a 50 degree temperature difference. I wear my warm winter coat and simply take it off once I get on board the plane. You don’t need to look as hilarious as these guys, but you get the idea…
7. Remember that you CAN buy things in other countries
Now of course many of the previous points won’t apply if you just pack less. You don’t need to pack the kitchen sink. Unless you’re travelling to Ulaan Bataar or somewhere in Siberia, there will be shops around where you can buy things. Like clothes and basic hygiene products.
Something else that other countries have? Washing machines. Many people use the length of the trip to dictate how many items of clothing they take with them. But once you get beyond a week, it doesn’t matter. If you’re going away for three months, you’re not going to take 90 pairs of underwear with you, so don’t pack 20 pairs for a 20 day trip – pack 7 and wash them after a week. It’s that simple.
So this is the most important tip I can give you: when it comes to clothes, keep it simple and pack what you actually need, not what you might possibly, in very rare circumstances, potentially need…if something very specific happens.
Because let me tell you what will happen: you will run late. You will need to run to catch a bus, a train, a taxi, a plane, or some other form of transportation. Your departure gate will be the one located at the furthest end of the airport. And when your luggage is the size of a small country and you’re trying to reach Gate 1293 before it closes for final boarding, you’re going to wish you hadn’t packed your GHD straightener or that third pair of hiking boots.
Image Credit: somethingchloe
8. Pack Tissues and a Pen
The humble tissue is a multipurpose tool. Not only can it be used to clear out your sinuses, but also for a whole host of other things, from toilet paper replacement to stockpiling croissants from hotel buffet breakfasts.
As for a pen, you always seem to need it when you don’t have one on you. When you need to fill in departure or arrival cards, you won’t need to walk around the entire airport in search of a pen, because you’ll just whip your own out of your pocket. Just watch out, as having a pen will suddenly make you everybody’s favourite person. While being a good samaritan and helping a fellow traveller out is great, if you’re running late be discrete about your pen ownership so you aren’t mobbed by pen-hungry travellers (it has happened to me on many occasions!).
Packing doesn’t have to be an arduous process if you’re clever about it. These tips will save you time and help you to stress less about your luggage. If you’d like some more tips to help you prepare for your upcoming cambio, check out our Safety Tips for Guests.
About the Author: Clarissa Hirst is GoCambio’s Content Manager. A born-and-bred Australian, Clarissa currently calls Sweden home. She’s travelled to over 40 countries, loves learning foreign languages, and her passion is inspiring others to learn about and explore the world around them. She hopes to one day speak fluent Russian and ride the Trans-Siberian railway. Connect with Clarissa on Twitter.
COVER IMAGE CREDIT: Craig Sunter