How to Pack for Any Trip

If there's one thing I hate about traveling, it's packing. I am not good at picking out clothes for myself on a regular day, let alone for a week without knowing exactly what the weather will be like, or what I'll really be in the mood to wear when the day comes. 

I have devised quite a few ways, however, to make packing as stress-free as possible. Here are a few quick ways to pack quickly and effectively.

1. Find the smallest suitcase you can reasonably use.

I have a severe problem: I will fill any bag I bring with me. Therefore, I grab the smallest bag I can get away with. That way, I don't have extra room to bring items I really don't need. Now would be the time to know what the flight will let you carry on too, since my aim is always to carry-on a bag instead of paying for it. 

2. Do some research.

Ugh, looking at weather apps is difficult, especially since you'll never really know what you need to be ready for anyways since they're not wildly accurate. But at least get a general idea of the weather and begin to pack accordingly. Also think about what activities you'll be doing. For example, for Iceland I knew I'd need shoes that were good for walking, and for Punta Cana I knew the most physical thing I'd be doing is sitting on a rum boat -- er, catamaran. Don't bother bringing sneakers if you know you're not working out or walking a lot.

3. Plan every outfit.

Don't put a single thing in your suitcase unless you know what you're planning on wearing it to (i.e. 'Thursday walking around the city) and what completes the outfit. These steps now will make getting up and changing a breeze, not matter how jet lagged you are. Once you've packed with that high level of scrutiny, then allow yourself to pack a few freebies, just in case it's colder/hotter/wetter than you anticipated. 

4. Remind yourself you'll forget things.

This one's all about mindset. Be okay with the fact you might forget something. Even if it's something catastrophic-seeming, like a rain jacket, remember that wherever you're, you'll probably have access to replacements. Even when I was in the middle-of-nowhere Iceland, we still had the opportunity to stop at stores and grab essentials. 

5. Bring compression bags.

I was sharing a suitcase with a friend for our Iceland trip, and we got the big compression bags, which were incredible on multiple layers, as they:

  • Saved us a ton of space. We both were able to fit a week's worth of winter clothes into one suitcase.

  • Organized the suitcase. We knew which bags were which person's, and we were able to then use one for dirty and one for clean clothes.
packing tips

6. Share.

The last and final tip plays off tip 5, but think to yourself: what can I share with others on the trip? While I had mixed feelings about bringing a straightener at all (who really cares if I look good when I'm sitting in a car all day), I also knew I might be able to share with someone else. So, I confirmed that if I needed it, I would be able to use someone else's. Just like that, space saved. You can trade-off too, so one person brings the hair dryer and the other brings the straightener. There's no point in doubling up efforts. 

What travel packing tips and tricks do you find work best for you?