Travel Tips

Travel Junkie Secret Packing Tips

suitcase packing tipsBeing a travel junkie, I love to spirit off to my next adventure. What I don’t love is packing. Having to decide what to bring and how to fit all my stuff into a single bag can sometimes seem overwhelming. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few essential travel tips that have proved priceless.

1. Have a travel packing list. I learned this tip years ago and every time I forget to use it, I regret it. The idea is to keep a basic travel packing list on your computer. You can have basic section that would apply to all travel – clothes, toiletries, electronic gear and then you have various sections that would only apply based on the type of trip. For example, if you are going on an adventure trip or cruise, you may need certain types of gear (binoculars, head lamp, etc.) You can reuse and add to the list after each trip as you learn what is most useful for you.  Here is a great tool that will auto-generate a packing list based on who is going, what type of activities you’ll be doing and where you are going!

2. Don’t overpack. After every trip, I am always astounded by what I didn’t actual wear. I’ve learned to pack in basic solid colors that can be easily accentuated with jewelry or scarfs. I bring clothes that can layer for warmth instead of bringing heavier clothing. Instead of bringing multiple coats, I bring one that is waterproof and can be used for multiple purposes.  I always bring a stylish hat to protect my face but it also works wonders on windy or bad hair days 😊.  I bring lightweight breathable undergarments that can easily dry overnight when washed.

3. Always travel with an extra bag. I have a medium sized basic duffle bag that I use as a liner in my main suitcase. I don’t want to haul around a huge suitcase that is 1/2 full just in case I buy something.   I find the duffle bag takes almost no room or weight and always gives me the option to bring home stuff if I need to. It’s also a great backup in case something happens to your suitcase. 

4. Roll Clothes in Packing Cubes / Dry Cleaner Plastic. Nobody loves wrinkles. Many people know you can avoid wrinkles and get more packing room by rolling your clothes, however this tip doesn’t always work with more complicated formal type clothing like blazers or sports coats. With this type of clothing, I have the clothing on a simple hanger and drape dry cleaning plastic over it. Then fold the entire garment on the hanger into my bag. The plastic prevents wrinkles and the hanger allows me to unpack in seconds.  If I don’t have formal clothing, I roll my clothes tightly and use colored packing cubes to keep everything easily identified (shirts in one cube, undergarments in another, etc).  Packing cubes were a game changer for me in terms of being organized.   I could pack a beautiful suitcase but the minute I got my first destination I couldn’t find anything and my bag turned into chaos.  Now I just take them out of my suitcase, unzip and put them in the hotel dresser drawer.  I don’t take anything out so it’s very easy to pack up again.  Here are the cubes I use.  I bought them in different colors to keep my stuff separated from Charles’ things.

5. Always bring an extension cord and extra charging cable. I never take even a short trip without my trusty 10 foot three outlet extension cord. You never know how many or where plugs are going to be located in the places you stay. If you have several electronic devices that will need to be plugged in, having an extra long extension will give you flexibility to plug in your devise anywhere and the three outlets lets you plug in all your devices at once. This is especially helpful when traveling to other countries where you need a plug adapter. Plug your three outlet extension cord into your adapter and it’s like having three plug adapters.  Another little tip is to travel with a keychain phone adapter.  This is a small keychain that has adapter for your electronic devices (lighting adapter or micro USB port).  If a charging cable goes bad (and mine often do), I have a backup that didn’t take up much space.  

6. Always bring a small backpack. Having a small daypack that I can use is always on my packing list. I use the backpack to carry water, put travel guides in, carry any items I may purchase throughout the day. This is really helpful in places like Europe where if you are buying supplies in markets they don’t provide you with bags and it gives your an extra bag to bring goodies home in if you don’t have room in your bag.  Here is my favorite small  lightweight backpack that collapses for easy packing.  Available in various colors:

7. Bring laundry supplies. I always bring a small zip lock bag of dry laundry detergent. I mix my own with a combination of a basic detergent, oxygen cleaner, borax, and those little fabric softener crystals that smell great. I use dry ingredients as they won’t spill and go a lot further than their liquid counter parts. This mixture gives the option to wash basic things like underwear along my way. It also makes my suitcase smell great. I also pack a few fabric softener cloths in my bag for the same purpose- they even are great to smoother your hair on frizzy days. I also never travel without my trusty tide stick which works miracles for small stains you may acquire along your adventure.  A couple of clothes pins and a piece of rope are also in my bag to allow me a make shift drying rack.

8. Bring Plastic Bags. I always pack a few plastic bags like the ones that hotels provide for dirty clothes. They help prevent wrinkles in my suitcase, can be used to keep my dirty clothes separated from my clean clothes, keep my dirty shoes away from clean items, and provide a spare carrying bag if needed.  If I am going to a place that specializes in wine, I also throw in some wine skins so that I have protection when bringing home bottles.

9. Use Cling Wrap and Duck tape. When packing toiletries, I always fear they will leak out onto my clothes. I’ve learned that if you use a little cling wrap on the top of the bottle and then put the cap on, you’ll have a way better chance of avoiding leaks that can stain and ruin your clothing. I then put all my toiletries in a zip lock bag for even extra protection.  I also use a little duck tape on bottles lids that flip open to make sure they don’t accidently open in transit.  I then wrap extra duck tape around a bottle so that if I need some on a trip for emergencies, I have extra. If a hotel electronic appliance light is interfering with my shut eye, I just grab a little duck tape and cover the light.   If my suitcase zipper breaks, I grab some duck tape to secure the bag.   Blister from your shoes, just put a little duck tape on it.  Duck tape has saved me many times!

10. Bring a Spray Bottle. A small empty spray bottle can be used in many ways. I fill it with water to spray clothing to help settle wrinkles. I even add a little of my laundry detergent mix and it then has a great smell. Going somewhere hot – fill it with water and use it as a mister. Hair need a refresh, put a couple drops of conditioner mixed with water and use on hair for a nice refresh or instant leave-in conditioner.

For Ideas on How to Save Money Traveling see my article 10 TIPS TO SAVE MONEY TRAVELING

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