Whether it’s an impromptu getaway, or you’re just too crazed to even think about getting your suitcase together before Friday, don’t worry. Half the battle is learning to pack quickly and efficiently, so you can get out the door and on the plane or in the car faster—and calmer. Last December, I found out that I had to fly to Italy on a last-minute business trip, the day of departure. My flights were booked for that afternoon, so I dashed around my apartment in a frenzy throwing everything (and I mean everything) into my suitcase. I left in a cluttered mess, and of course, forgot a few vital items. That experience taught me a lesson and helped me to get a sense of what I should have done to prepare myself for takeoff.
Guy or girl, here’s how to simplify packing and avoid the panic: Follow these five tips and you’ll be able to pack for a weekend in twenty minutes or less.
1. Size Matters—Choose destination-appropriate luggage. If you’re hopping to the next state, you don’t need to haul an extra-large travel bag. And similarly, if you’re heading overseas, you’ll want more than a tiny daypack. For versatility, select a medium-sized piece of luggage that converts from a wheeling suitcase to a backpack. The Eagle Creek Switchback™ Max 22 does just that. At 65 liters, it’s just the right size lightweight and durable, you can hoist it on your shoulder for a backpack, or convert by pulling up the handle for a grab-and-go roller bag. It’s small enough for an airplane carry-on, but big enough to hold enough outfits, shoes and toiletries for several days away.
2. Keep Regulation-Size Bottles On Hand—Avoid scrambling last minute to find miniature toiletries at the drugstore (chances are, they don’t have your favorite products anyway). Instead, use airline-approved 3 ounce travel bottles like the kind that come in the Pack-It™ Custom Travel Bottle Set. Not only is it more eco-friendly to refill, but you can fill them with your favorite shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Combine this with other essentials like a toothbrush, toothpaste and razor—and leave them under your bathroom sink. When it’s time to pack in a rush, grab the already-prepped bag and toss it into your suitcase.
3. Invest in a Multi-Season Jacket—Keep a staple zip-up sweatshirt or fleece outer-layer in your closet. I like Smartwool hoodies, made from traceable Merino wool (I’ve had the same one for five years, and it is still in excellent shape). With a high thread count, you can wear it in chillier temps (it’s heavier than a base layer) but it’s still breathable, releasing heat when you don’t need it. A solid piece like this will give you guaranteed warmth, and you won’t have to take up precious suitcase space by packing more than one.
4. Slow Down After years of chronically over-packing (and only wearing half of what I bring), I’ve now devote at least minute or two of “think-time” to consider the climate I’m in and what type of events I’ll be attending. Then, I pack for only those—and never double up on pieces. If you like to run or walk, you really only need one set of workout clothes. If you’re on a beach, one swimsuit should do the trick (hang both to dry out at night).
5. Bring Clothes that do Double Duty For women, a well-cut dark colored dress can always transition from work to a night out, (dramatic earrings or a statement belt change the look). Guys should invest in a pair of trendy, comfortable sneakers that can work just as well in the hotel gym as they do for a walking tour or pub hopping.
6. Know When to Roll ‘Em Some stuff, like tees, workout gear, boxers and socks can be rolled and organized inside packing cubes. Suits and sweaters, however, should be folded and put in a Pack-It™ Folder to keep them from bunching, wrinkling or getting stretched out of shape.
7. Don’t Forget the Essentials—You can do without a third pair of jeans, but not without your eyesight. Don’t forget to toss in extra contacts and glasses (you never know when you might need them). Same goes for prescription medication and your cell phone charger. And most important, don’t forget your passport for international flights. So many times I’ve already started my car to head to the airport and I’ll remember my passport is still up in my dresser drawer. You don’t want to miss your trip because you don’t have the right paperwork or find yourself without a critical item after you’re already on the road.
To stay organized, create a checklist of important items and keep it handy when you’re packing – storing it with your luggage or with your travel-ready toiletry kit in between trips. Ready? Set, Go!
By Patty HodappPatty is a young solo female traveler and journalist who writes about living abroad, backpacking tips and budget travel for The Lost Girls. www.lostgirlsworld.com