Whether you are backpacking through Europe or going on an expensive vacation in Mexico, here are some tips on how to and what you should pack when traveling. I’ve used all of these and wherever I go they remain my best practices in regards to traveling.
1.) Bring Throw Away Clothing
This is my absolute rule to live by when backpacking, especially on long trips in other countries. Bring clothing with you that you no longer use or is at the end of its life. As the trip goes on you can toss or donate what you will no longer wear or is too worn to bring back. This way your pack gets lighter and you have more room for souvenirs on the way home.
2.) Roll it All!
This is most likely the first tip anyone will give you in regards to packing. Rolling your clothing saves more space. There are actually several ways you can roll your cloths. My preference is to lay out the item, fold it in half (tucking sleeves in if it is a shirt) and tightly rolling it up. Some people prefer the ranger roll (YouTube it) and others have specific ways to fold. However you do it, rolling your clothing will allow you more room.
3.) Use Zip Lock Bags
This trick will not only save you room but keep you organized. For the socks and underwear that will not fit by being stuffed in your shoes, roll them up and compress them in a zip lock baggie. It will allow you to keep your underwear together and make sure you do not have mismatching socks.
4.) Don’t Bring What You Can Buy
This one is an easy one. Before you head off on your adventure, do some research on what you can and cannot buy at your destination. Most places you can just pick up shampoo, conditioner and body wash. So take a small amount with you for those first days and buy the rest at your destination. (Keep in mind it may be more expensive or they may not have that shampoo that you just “have to have”.)
5.) Wear the Heavy Stuff
It may not be cold from where you are leaving from, but if you have a big heavy coat you are bringing along, wear it. If you wear all your heavy stuff (sweater, coat, boots, jeans) your luggage will be lighter and your pack will have more space. That also means no overweight baggage fees.
6.) Use All Available Space
This may be a no brainier, since everyone should know to stuff things in their shoes by now, but there is more space that you are not realizing you can use. Carrying any jewellery in a tin or box? Fit your cell phone charger, contact case, headbands or aspirin bottles inside. What else can you fit inside the pockets of a shirt before you roll it up? Packing a Tupperware for food, or a water bottle/canteen? Slip your brush inside or some rolled clothing.
7.) Double Up
Instead of taking more than you need, think about what can be a double-use item. Use one towel for both the beach and the shower. Use one pair of jeans for two or more days in a row. Use the same t-shirt for other outfits – as a t-shirt, under a jacket or under a shawl. Mix and match articles to create several outfits out of four different items.
8.) Bring Only What You Need
Yes, to some it is obvious, but others not so much. Really think, what can you live without? Decide what is a luxury and what is a necessity. Do you need all that make-up, that many books or that one giant hoodie that you love? Are you actually going to use those heals or that baseball cap? If you can live without out it for your trip, then do it. Odds are you may not even use it and it will take up space for no reason.
There are lots of different packing tips that work for different people. Hopefully some of these will help you out.