How to Pack

Three Methods:Packing LightPacking EffectivelyPacking Smart

Packing efficiently and effectively is an art form. It requires foresight, self control and a very specialized skill set. Luckily, anyone can learn to be a master packer if they follow a few simple rules and guidelines. This article will cover such packing-related topics as the necessity to travel light, the benefits of rolling clothes over stacking and the advantages of consulting weather forecasts. Read below to find out more.

Method 1
Packing Light

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    Only take carry-on luggage when you travel by air. If you can limit yourself to one carry-on bag and eliminate the need to check in any luggage, you will save yourself a world of time and hassle. It may sound daunting - but seasoned travelers swear that one small bag provides easily enough space for the travel essentials, you just need to cut-down on any non-essential items.[1]
    • Limiting yourself to carry-on luggage makes the process of traveling much easier - you will get in and out of any airports you use a lot faster, and enjoy the convenience of having all of your travel essentials directly on hand throughout your flight. You will also avoid the risk of incurring charges on overweight check-in bags, particularly on smaller local airlines.
    • Packing a single small bag also has its advantages once you reach your destination. You will be a lot more flexible when it comes to moving from place to place, making it easier to take advantage of any opportunities or adventures that come your way. You will also appear as less of an easy target to pick-pockets and con artists.
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    Create a packing list. Create an extensive list of all the things you think you might possibly need for your trip. Consider clothes, toiletries, medicinal items, swimwear, business attire, outdoor equipment, entertainment, electronics and anything else you can think of. Then consider this list with a more critical eye and really think about which items are really essential for your trip and which are more "just in case". Cross off any non-essential items, as you won't be taking them with you.[2]
    • Remember - unless you're travelling to the Antarctic, a remote area, Ascension Island, the Sahara desert or other especially far flung place, you will almost certainly be able to buy any additional items you need at your destination, in case of an emergency.
    • Once you have whittled down your list to a bare minimum, you must promise to stick to it. If you deviate from your list at all, things may spiral out of control and you'll end up trying to pack the kitchen sink.
    • Even if you think you might be saving yourself a possible expense by packing your scuba gear, forget about it. The hassle of lugging a heavy case around won't be worth it.
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    Get travel-sized versions of your favorite toiletries. Airlines have pretty strict regulations on the volume of liquids each passenger is allowed to take with them on board. So if you're sticking with carry-on, it's best to invest in travel-size versions of your "can't live without" products. Shampoos, moisturizers, toothpaste and certain items of make-up all fall within this category. Place these items in a clear plastic toiletry bag or zip-lock bag so you can conveniently clear them through security.
    • Be aware that most airlines follow the 3-1-1 rule. The bottles containing the liquids must be 3.4 oz (100 ml) or less, they must all fit within one, 1 quart transparent plastic bag, and the total volume of liquids contained in the bag must not exceed 1 quart.[3]
    • It is also possible to buy empty travel-size plastic bottles relatively cheaply, into which you can squeeze your favorite products from their full size-containers at home. Just make sure to label each bottle so you don't get confused!
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    Pack as many outfits as you think you need, then subtract one. People almost always pack more clothes than they end up wearing, so however many outfits you think you'll need, pack less.[4] Think about how many days you'll be away for and what activities you plan on doing while you're there. Also consider what the weather will be like once you're there - if the weather has consistently been at 90 degrees for the last month, you're not going to need more than one sweater.
    • You'll definitely end up wearing some items more than once, so think about clothes that you can mix and match. For example - for every one pair of shorts you bring, pack two or more tops that will go with them, as you won't need to change your shorts everyday.
    • Pack clothes that can be adapted to suit the situation - try packing a simple dress that can be worn casually with flat sandals and a sun hat throughout the day, or dressed up with heels, a belt and some jewelry at night.
    • Find out whether there is a laundromat near your accommodation - if there's one within easy reach, you will be able to wash your clothes, thus increasing the number of times you can wear them!
    • Remember that it's not the end of the world if you end up needing to buy a couple of cheap t-shirts or a rain jacket while you're away - and chances are you won't need to. When travelling light, always pack for the best case scenario, not the worst case.[1]
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    Never take more than two pairs of shoes unless you want to. It's reasonable to need hiking boots, trainers a day shoe and evening shoes. Shoes are the heaviest, bulkiest items that you will need to bring with you while travelling, so try to limit yourself to the absolute minimum. Women in particular may find this step difficult, given their love of having the perfect shoe for every occasion, but try to think about what's really necessary.[2]
    • If you're going on an action-packed sports holiday, you're hardly going to need a pair of high-heels. A small, light-weight pair of pretty flats will get you through any situations where you need to get slightly more dressed up, such as in a restaurant.
    • If you're going on a business trip, pack appropriate shoes for any meetings you have to take, along with comfier, more casual pair to wear while travelling or during down time. Don't forget your trainers if you want to hit the gym.
    • Don't pack your running shoes unless you are absolutely sure that you will be exercising while you're away. If you're going on a relaxing, indulgent holiday to a sunny destination, will you really get up at 7 am every morning for a 5 mile (8.0 km) run? Unless the answer is a resounding "yes", you're running shoes are taking up valuable space.
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    Leave whatever you can buy at your destination at home. Did you know that they have supermarkets in Europe, Australasia, North America, South American and Africa? And pharmacies? And fashionable clothes stores? As mentioned earlier, unless you are travelling to Outer Siberia, it's unlikely that there are many items you won't be able to find wherever you go. So unless you're particularly picky about the type of hair conditioner or shaving gel you need to use, leave these items at home and just pick them up when you get there.
    • Buying as you go may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it will help you to significantly cut down on weight and free up some extra space in your bag. It's all about priorities!
    • Remember that many large brands are universal - you should be able to find Gillette shaving cream, Colgate toothpaste and Pantene conditioner no matter where you are in world - or at least something very similar.[1] Alternatively, you can see this as a chance to try something new!
    • If the worst comes to the worst and you can't find a particular product, ask yourself how the locals manage to live without it. Do they have some kind of alternative? Or is just an unnecessary comfort? Travelling light may require some sacrifices! Consider it an adventure.
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    Pack one jazzy accessory. Packing just one versatile accessory can work wonders when it comes to packing light. Make sure that it will go with as many of your planned outfits as possible and that it serves a definite purpose. For example, a large, decorative scarf can serve as a funky accessory to wear around your neck, can be worn in place of a cardigan if draped around your arms and shoulder, can turn into a make-shift sarong at the beach, can be worn as a head-scarf to protect your head from the sun, or can serve as a pretty belt, if worn around your waist!

Method 2
Packing Effectively

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    Use compression bags. Compression bags are fantastic if you just can't avoid taking bulkier items, like ski gear or heavy winter coats. Compression packing bags work by removing all of the air from the bag, so the items takes up a much smaller space than before. Many brands do their own version of the compression packing bag, including Spacepak bags from Flight 001 and Space bags from Ziploc.[5]
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    Learn to bundle. Bundling is the current packing method de rigueur which makes excellent use of space and prevents clothes from becoming overly wrinkles. It is done by wrapping several items of clothing tightly around a central object such as an organizer pouch (filled with more items - of course) to form a cylindrical shaped bundle. Several of these bundles can then be packed into a relatively small space, making for very economical packing.[6]
    • When using the bundling method, place the most wrinkle-resistant items like jeans and jackets on the inside of the bundle, and more delicate, wrinkle-prone items like linen trousers and fine knits on the outside.
    • Wrap each item individually, rather than all at once, making sure the fabric is pulled taut enough that it doesn't wrinkle, but not so tight that it stretches the material.[6]
    • Once you have reached the bottom of your pile of clothing, place the bundle into your bag or suitcase and pack tightly or secure tightly with the bags tie-down straps. If the bundle is not secured properly before travelling, it may unravel, causing your clothes to crease.[6]
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    Do not stack. Simply folding your clothes and stacking them one on top of the other is not the most efficient method of packing, regardless of how your mother used to do it. Folded clothes take up a lot of space and are more prone to becoming wrinkled during transit. Stick with the bundling method outlines above, or at the very least try to roll your clothes so they take up less room.[2]
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    Use the space inside shoes for extra storage. Don't forget about all the empty space inside your shoes that you can use for storing smaller items like socks, underwear, jewelry or anything else you can think of. When packing efficiently it is important that you use up any and all available space.[5]
    • Once the shoes have been packed, place them at the bottom of your bag or along the edges of your suitcase.
    • If they're a little dirty and you don't want them touching your clothes, wrap each shoe tightly in a plastic bag first.
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    Put heavier items on the bottom. Always put any heavier items like books, laptops, shoes or hair dryers (not that you should be bringing one if you're traveling light!) at the bottom of the bag or suitcase. This is because they are more secure at the bottom and less likely to move around during travel. In addition, putting heavier items at the top of your bag would increase the chance of wrinkling the clothes underneath.
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    Place fragile or easily-wrinkled items on top. Item like suits or delicate, easily-creased dresses should be laid out flat at the top of your suitcase, in a protective garment bag, if possible. They should then be removed and hung-up as soon as you reach your destination.
    • If your items do happen to become wrinkled during travel, hang them up in the bathroom while you are having a shower. The steam from the hot shower should help gently work out any creases, eliminating the need to iron.

Method 3
Packing Smart

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    Pack layers rather than bulky single items. If you are in anyway unsure about the weather conditions at your destination, consider packing layers rather than bulky "just-in-case" items like rain jackets or jeans. That way, you can layer up or down depending on whether it's hot or cold.[5]
    • For example, you can pack a combination of long-sleeved and and short-sleeved t-shirts which you can wear individually or layer up if it's cold.
    • Or instead of taking bulky jeans, try packing some light-weight but cozy leggings which you can wear underneath dresses and skirts.
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    Put your toiletries in an outside pocket. Most suitcases and bags have extra outside pockets which are ideal for storing the plastic bag containing your toiletries. Storing the bag here will make it easily accessible when you're going through security - which is important as you will need to remove it from your case for screening.
    • Keeping the bag here will also make your toiletries easier to reach while traveling, which is great if you need to freshen up during your flight.
    • In addition, having your liquids separate from the rest of your suitcase is a good idea in case any of them should spill or burst during transport. Opening your bag to find all of your clothes are covered in sticky shower gel is never fun!
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    Leave valuables at home. It may be tempting to take your expensive watch or diamond jewelry with you while traveling, especially if you plan on attending any fancy dinners or special events. However, it is very easy for such items to become lost, broken or stolen while traveling, so you should try to leave these things safely at home. It's just not worth the heartbreak of losing your engagement ring somewhere in the Mediterranean.
    • Consider buying a cheap (and perhaps waterproof) watch just for your holidays. Chunky, costume jewelry is a great option for embellishing your outfits without the need for expensive gold and silver.[4]
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    Look up the weather before you leave. This step is pretty obvious, but make sure to look up the weather forecast in your destination are before you leave. If it's raining in London, you may want to pack a small, fold-up rain jacket and an umbrella for your arrival and leave the sunscreen lotion at home. And while certain weather conditions may be expected, if not guaranteed, in certain areas, you should always double check just in case that place is experiencing unseasonably hot or cold conditions.
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    Go neutral. When planning outfits, try to stick with more neutral colored items that work well together, particularly if you're traveling for business. Blacks, browns and grays all work well, and you can never go wrong with a crisp white shirt or blouse. If you feel too boring going all neutral, you can add a pop of color with accessories or a bright tie.[5]
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    Be aware of any prohibited items. Look up your local airport regulations to get an exact list of what items you are forbidden from bringing in your carry-on luggage. Being aware of these restrictions will prevent you from accidentally packing anything like razor blades or gel candles which could trigger a security check during the screening process and cause you delays while traveling.
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    Check the weight. Make sure that you weigh your bag before you leave the house to make sure it's not over the airline's weight restrictions. Although some airlines can be pretty flexible, others will happily hit you with exorbitant fees if your bag is even a pound overweight. Try to give yourself a couple of pounds leeway if possible, as you may want that extra weight to pack souvenirs or gifts on the way home.


  • Make sure your phone, iPod, laptop, Kindle or any other electrical devices are fully charge before your trip.
  1. Put your name, phone number, mailing and email address on a tag on your bag of case - then it can easily be returned to you if it gets mislaid.
  2. Don't forget your passport if your travel plans will require one.
  • Carry some local currency in your wallet.
  • Remember to pack any necessary medications.
  • Wear your heaviest pair of shoes while traveling to eliminate the need to pack them.
  • Bring any chargers and necessary adapters.
  • Check airport regulations for restrictions on luggage size and weight, carry-on items and checked items.

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Categories: Moving House and Packing | Travel Packing