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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Not to Stress Out Over Packing

Packing. The word can easily make one break out into a sweat or hives. I might be an anomaly, because I love to pack. I look at it as a challenge, trying to see how much I can pack into my carry-on without packing unnecessary items that I'll never use or wear. If just thinking about getting out your travel bag makes you never want to go anywhere, maybe you need to learn some tricks to make it less painful and more exciting, so you don't put it off until the night before, because nothing says "stressed out" more than procrastination. Use your last hours before vacation for sleeping and doing those last-minute dirty dishes.

Make packing list
Do it. 70% of your stress over packing can be eliminated if you plan out what to pack ahead of time, so you aren't just tossing random things in multiple bags (goodbye baggage fees!) or realizing that half of what you should be taking is in the dirty laundry. Don't forget essentials like toothpaste and undies! There are a few rules to remember when making your packing list:
  1. Mix and match - Pack separates that color coordinate, so you can make more outfits out of fewer pieces. I like to bring neutral bottoms and tops in a few different colors, so every bottom goes with every top. 5 tops and 3 bottoms can go a long way when you pack this way. Plan for at least one night of laundry. You can pack those Purex sheets that have detergent and fabric softener and can also be used as a dryer sheet.
  2. Limit your shoes - Think about where you're going and what sort of footwear you'll need. Chances are you won't need heels, but you may need fancier shoes than trainers. My suggestion is to bring a favorite pair of walking shoes and then a nicer pair of comfortable shoes like sandals or ballet flats (loafers or sandals for men). Wear the bulkier pair on the plane to save space in your luggage. Never bring brand new shoes on a trip. Always break them in first.
  3. Downsize everything you can - You can't bring your full-size hairspray and conditioner with you on the plane. Purchase some 3 oz bottles or find your faves in travel sizes for your 3-1-1 bag. You don't need a gallon of anything on a regular trip, so why weigh yourself down and pay money to fly your beauty products to your destination. Also, if you can bring multipurpose products like tinted moisturizer or tinted lip balm, that eliminates bringing several other things and frees up room in both your toiletry bag and 3-1-1 bag for liquids.

Limit yourself to carry-on and personal item 
Avoid the strain of dragging a ton of stuff with you or having to go wait at the baggage carousel, where you pray your suitcase ended up in the same place you did. You can use that extra $35+ (each way) for food or something else exciting on your trip - churro budget!

Pack every thing you can ahead of time

There's never going to be a time, besides 5 minutes before you leave, when everything will be ready to pack all at once. Stop the last-minute stress packing and, with the aid of your packing list, pack things as you can. I tend to keep a toiletry bag 90% packed at all times, so I can just add a few things near the end, but as I do laundry and gather things for my bag, I pack it and cross it off my list. That way you'll know what still needs to go into hour carry-on.
Leave all your chargers at home
I'm not saying that you can never recharge your phone, just don't have only one set of chargers. With my iGo, I can use it to charge everything except my laptop with just a few different interchangeable adapter tips. I use a splitter to charge more than one device and also bring a travel-size power strip so I can change via USB drive, too. These take up much less space than 5 (or more) cords from home and stay blissfully untangled in my bag. These things stay in my carry-on at all times, so I don't have to rush around to gather them up before I go anywhere (or forget my iPod charger again).

Multipurpose items are gold
When you pack, ask yourself if something has another use. Umbrellas only come in handy if it rains, but they also take up room and require you to have one for everyone traveling. Pack a lightweight rain jacket instead. It works for adverse weather and chilly environments (hello, Vegas casinos). Other great items are an iPad (can play games, check email, listen to music and read books) or a sarong (use as a makeshift towel, beach blanket, picnic blanket, wrap, skirt or more).

When you pack lighter and more efficiently, you will be able to keep a better grip on your belongings, save money (yay!) and time.

What are your favorite packing tips?

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