When you finally decide to use some of that money you saved from our Saving Money post to take that dream vacation make sure you keep your packing organized as well. This will help you cut down on the amount of stuff you pack for your trip (we never need as much as we think we do) and it may help you save some money. With the rising costs of bag fees, whenever I can get everything into a carryon I do. It saves money and time at the airport. It works great for short weekend trips to take a small bag and it can work great for a long trip too. I learned very efficient packing when I took a month and went to Europe with only a carryon suitcase (after a month lugging the carryon around I would never want to take anything larger or more than one). Use our tips below to learn to pack like a pro.
1.) Pack Light – make a list of all the items you think you will need. Then take a second look at that list and eliminate all the things you really do not need. You don’t need a lot of outfit choices. Pick them now and only take what you are actually going to wear. This also saves time on vacation when you do not have to decide what to wear. You only need a few pairs of shoes. I always travel in something comfortable and make sure I have comfortable walking shoes and a dressy pair of shoes if needed. That is all you need, 3 pairs at the absolute max. If you are going to carryon save room and use the shampoo and conditioner the hotel supplies or buy these items when you get to your destination.
2.) Decide to check a bag or carryon – I for one always carryon whenever I can, which these days, is all the time. After using a carryon bag to travel Europe for a month I learned I can go anywhere and a carryon is all I need. If you are going to check a bag, make sure that you do something to distinguish which bag is yours. It can be a unique luggage tag, a bright ribbon, or some yarn tied around the handle. Something that will make your black bag stand out from all the other black bags on the baggage carousel. This will not only save time, but it will keep you from picking up 10 other bags while looking for yours. It also allows other people you are traveling with to grab the bag for you. Maybe you stand back and keep an eye on your carryon bags or the kids while another grabs the bags you both checked. Easy to tell them which one is yours if you have done something to distinguish it from the rest.
3.) Checking a bag? Pack with a partner – If you are going on a longer trip or a big important trip with another person and you are both checking a bag then share the bag space. There will be less to worry about if a bag gets lost. The chances of both of your bags getting lost are very small. Divide what you need into two bags and pack a few days worth of clothes, shoes, underwear, etc. in one bag and the rest in the other. This way if one bag gets lost you both still have what you need to get by for a few days while the airline locates your luggage. Then you can enjoy vacation without having to deal with finding clothes to wear and stressing out about what is lost.
4.) Roll your clothes – By rolling your clothes instead of folding them you not only save space so you can pack more in, but you also keep clothes from wrinkling if you take care when initially rolling them. Another trick to use if you think you will be bringing a lot home on your trip is to fold everything on the way there and then roll it on the way back to make space for all your new stuff.
5.) Utilize all open space – this means you should even use the space inside your shoes. Stuff socks or stockings inside shoes. Not only is this added packing space, but it will help your shoes keep their shape and not get crushed while packed in your luggage.
6.) Save hotel shower caps – anytime I am at a hotel with a shower cap I bring it home with me and then use it on my next trip. The elastic on the cap makes it perfect to wrap around the bottom of shoes. Wrap the shoes in the shower cap and then neatly pack in the luggage without getting everything else dirty.
7.) Do laundry on the trip – If you are going on a longer trip save space and only pack clothes for half the trip or 2 weeks tops. When we were in Europe we took 2 weeks worth of clothes. We then did laundry halfway through the trip. We took ours to a Laundromat and threw everything in a few washers at once to get through it fast. It takes a couple hours of the day but after all the walking we were glad to rest our feet and we used the time to plan out more things to do while we were there. No time to do your own? A lot of hotels offer laundry services for a small fee. It is worth it to save on extra bag fees and do the laundry.
8.) Bring a pillowcase – If you do plan to do laundry then bring a pillowcase with you. You can use it to put all the dirty clothes in. When it is time to do laundry just take the pillowcase to the Laundromat and then throw it in with the clothes so it is clean and can be put back in the suitcase too. If you are not doing laundry then use the laundry or dry cleaning bags at the hotel to keep your dirty clothes separate from the clean clothes when coming home.
9.) Keep everything fresh – pack a few dryer sheets in with your clothes to keep everything smelling fresh when you get to your destination.
10.) Maximize what you can carry on – Most airlines let you bring a carryon and one personal item such as a laptop or purse. I like to travel with my carryon and my messenger bag. The larger messenger bag holds a lot more stuff than my purse, but it also fits my purse inside of it so I actually get to bring both. The extra space is also great to bring souvenirs home in or carry a small collapsible bag in to bring back filled with souvenirs when you are on your way home.
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