If you want to become a seasoned bucket list traveler, you’ll need to learn how to pack efficiently. Not only will this save you money at the airport by avoiding over-weight limit costs, but you’ll be able to travel lighter while ensuring you still have everything you need.
How many times have you packed for a trip or vacation only to discover you didn’t really need or use half of what you brought with you? It’s easy to over-pack clothing and shoes, or include unnecessary items because you haven’t carefully planned out your trip.
Here are 10 Bucket List Travel Packing Tips to help you travel light:
Purchase a Travel-Savvy Backpack
Whether you plan to check luggage or not, a travel-savvy backpack can help you bring the essentials while saving weight and room in your suitcase. Backpacks will fit into airline carry-on storage compartments or under-seat storage while giving you one centralized place for all of the important documents you need throughout your travel.
Plus, a backpack just makes traveling easier; freeing your hands and helping you better navigate in crowded places. This is especially true if traveling to rural areas or to Europe with cobblestone roads that will tear up even the highest quality suitcase wheels.
When choosing a backpack, make sure you invest in a high-quality travel-ready bag. You’ll end up paying more for it upfront but if you select a high-end bag you’ll never have to buy another one again.
You want your backpack to be flexible in size and shape with comfortable straps and even weight distribution. Get a small backpack for each of your kids, so they can have their special items handy.
Roll Your Clothes
This is a packing hack I discovered years ago and it saves me a ton of space in my bag but it also surprisingly helps decrease wrinkles in a lot of my clothing. Simply roll your shirts and pants into burrito-style packages to save room and fit more into your luggage.
Group changes of clothes together by the day you plan to wear them and place little used clothing, like swimwear, at the bottom of your bag. That way it won’t be necessary to dig through everything to reach what you will use at the beginning of your trip.
Clothes will take up the bulk of your travel bag. Use this bucket list travel packing tip from Lonely Planet and pack in threes:
“Three pairs of socks, three pairs of underwear, and three shirts. Wear one, wash one, and dry one. You can get more miles out of legwear, so two pairs of pants and one culturally appropriate pair of shorts or a skirt should suffice. Choose light, flowing, quick-dry cotton-poly blends in matching colors that handle wrinkles well.”
Group your Luggage
This tip came from an experienced flight attendant who wanted to make sure she got through customs quickly during each leg of her flight.
By segmenting your luggage, you are placing all liquid items into separate plastic bags, grouping your luggage by type. This will make it a lot easier if you’re asked to open your luggage for quick inspection through customs.
Pack a Pen or Pencil with a Thin Notebook
There will be plenty of times you’ll likely require a pen during your travels, including when filling out custom and immigration forms. Pack pens in a Ziploc bag so prevent them from leaking, or bring extra pencils in the event one breaks or snaps.
Not only will a pen or pencil be handy when it comes to filling out required travel documents but you can use it to jot down reminders, add memories to your travel journal, take notes about destinations, or when asking someone for directions.
Choose a Colorful Suitcase
This is a great tip, especially when you are a frequent traveler and find that you’re spending a lot of time looking for your luggage on the carousel.
By choosing an unusual color or pattern when buying a suitcase, you’ll be able to easily spot it at the airport. And it goes without saying - make sure you add a luggage tag to your suitcase that includes your full name and address should your luggage get lost.
Pack Chargers with Devices
Whenever possible, keep chargers with their associated devices. If your luggage is lost or delayed, at least you’ll still be able to use the devices carried in your day bag.
Speaking of chargers, if you are traveling overseas, make sure you have the appropriate adapter to charge your cell phone and tablet. Though many portable electronics can operate on a wide range of voltages, having an adapter is a must when traveling to a country with a different socket type. Socket types are often consistent throughout an entire continent, though there are certainly exceptions. Do your research before you go.
Be Careful with Over-the-Counter Medications
While certain medications are permitted into some countries, you’ll want to double-check before bringing any medication with you. Some areas, such as Japan, don’t allow common medications like Sudafed into their country.
So you are not caught off guard, do your research before you go. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has excellent travel tips for learning about traveling abroad with medicine.Tape Bottle Lids
There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination and finding a leaked bottle has ruined your clothes. To prevent this, tape the lids of bottles closed before you travel to protect against potential leakage. Just a piece of masking tape will do the trick and you can easily remove it when you settle in.
Also, keep in mind that visiting higher elevation areas can cause toiletry bottles to be under pressure; they’ll spray when you open them. Keep those reusable plastic bags; they will come in handy during your travels.
Consider Lithium Batteries
If you need to pack batteries, consider lithium as they are lighter and often last longer. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that many airlines require that lithium batteries be carried on board and not checked into luggage.
Never Pack Things “Just in Case”
You’ll find that you need far less than you expect. Pack with the mindset to cut your items in half. That might seem insane but will serve you well while traveling. If you left behind an item that is needed, just take that opportunity to indulge in some shopping.
Learn from the mistakes of others: Don’t lug around a raincoat when you might only need it for a day or two, and don’t pack that extra pair of sneakers, just to be safe.
While this paring down may initially feel like a slow painful form of packing torture, doing this will cut you down to the exact essentials you’ll actually need.
Above all else, don’t pack to capacity. Ideally, you should pack at least a week before you’re set to leave. That way you have time to reconsider items, organize as needed and not be stressed out packing last minute (which will also increase your chances at forgetting something!) So, start packing at least 5 days in advance.
Packing is best done modularly. Try to pack in "kits" based on need. If your luggage is even remotely close to capacity, you’ll want to set it on a scale to ensure it’s not over the weight limit.
Don’t go into survival mode! Pack only what is necessary. No bloat bags. The last thing you want is to be charged an extra $50-100 at the airport because you failed to double-check weight limits.
Finally, remember to leave room for souvenirs or gifts you may buy while traveling.
Get our FREE Travel Journal to help plan and remember your next trip.
In it, you'll find 76 pages to help you planning and journal a 14-day vacation trip. You can print only the pages you need - over and over- for each trip you have planned.
- Set your trip budget
- Make note of your travel itinerary's
- Plan out what you want to do and see on each of the days you'll be away
- Make a master list of things to do and see
- Make To-Do lists for the time leading up to departure
- Keep detailed packing lists
- Do a journal check-in for each day of your trip
You'll love how customizable the Travel Journal can be. Have fun as you keep track of your adventures.