Am I the only one with problems packing? Some just seem so skilled at this task, so swift on their feet. Packing naturals. After packing for so many trips over the last several years, I have made a multitude of mistakes. I think that over time I have adapted and improved my thought process for how to pack and what to bring. Something that is still really difficult for me is packing for a trip during the winter. Winter clothes/sweaters take up a lot of room. This is just a fact. In this post, I want to share what I learned primarily from my trips to Iceland and Milan for packing as effectively as possible. The intended audience for this post is the female overpacker.
1. Bring an extra bag. I hate starting out a trip with a ton of luggage. Oftentimes, it is hard to say what you will be bringing back with you and when your suitcases are packed to start there isn’t much room for leeway. What I have done for a number of trips is bring along in my carry on an extra bag that folds down to a compact size. One option that is really nice is from Tumi, the “just in case” tote. The duffel which is 14in X 23in X 9in folds into a bag that is the size of a medium makeup bag. Another option is one that I got from LeSportsac a few years back. Both of these are very lightweight and the inner bag is a duffel that can hold quite a bit. When we went to Prague, I started out with only carry on luggage. I purchased items on the trip and used my LeSportsac bag to bring them home. Finally, another option I have is from Paravel. The outer casing actually unzips and forms the base of the bag. This option is slightly less pricey as compared to the Tumi, but it does not pack down as small. Regardless of whether you want to use them for this purpose or not, they all make a great option for your airplane carry on.
2. Layer. When we went to Milan, I brought along a couple of layering pieces to wear under pants. I learned this from my trip to Iceland where I didn’t bring enough layering pieces. I feel like it is always my legs that are cold. Uniqlo has some lightweight thermals that condense down and are easy to pack. I wore them underneath pants and jeans. They do have matching tops as well that are very affordable. Also, I brought a heavy pair of black tights. I wore these almost every day in Milan. For night, they were great when wearing a dress and still looking stylish. During the day, I liked wearing them underneath my jeans.
3. Check the weather ahead of time and plan accordingly. I would have been so unhappy if I had not thoroughly looked at the weather forecast in Milan. It was raining almost our entire trip. This is something that I have been much more diligent about the more that I travel. Several times I went on trips thinking that I could make it by without waterproof jackets, umbrellas, and scarfs/hats. This was most definitely a mistake. Nobody wants to be cold or wet when they are trying to enjoy a vacation. What I try to do now is look for these items during sale periods like after Christmas. They are things that I don’t want to invest in at full price, yet I know that they ultimately will be worthy of the purchase. Most recently, I used my dividend from REI to buy an Arc’teryx waterproof jacket that was already on sale. REI is a great place to get gear for trips and also get cash back that you can apply towards future purchases.
4. Packing cubes. I have really been experimenting with how to pack more effectively and efficiently utilizing the least amount of space. I ordered packing cubes first from eagle creek. One set was compression cubes and the other was more organizational. The compression cubes I utilized to pack my clothes. I do think they help to keep things looking neat. Honestly, I cannot be sure how much less space they really take up. If you roll your clothes and compress items, my personal belief is that the compression packs do not provide anything truly incredible when it comes to saving space. For me, they are most helpful for organization. They kept me from digging through an unorganized suitcase fishing for items. The other set of organization cubes I got from eagle creek I utilized for my carry on. They are actually labeled with a big S, M, and L. The small I utilized for a makeup bag, medium was for medicines and miscellaneous, and the large I used for books/magazines/headphones to keep me entertained on the flight. Just recently, I ordered some shoe cubes, packing, and compression cubes from Paravel. This is a great company using sustainable products made from recycled water bottles and they also use recycled zippers. I packed their shoe cubes to carry my hiking boots and another cube for my high heels. They were fantastic, especially considering how dirty my hiking boots were/get on a trip. The cubes allowed me to pinpoint exactly what I was looking for in a timely fashion, especially if you put some thought into the packing process.
5. Don’t forget accessories. Things that I frequently forget and always regret include the following: sunglasses, umbrella, rain shoes, waterproof jacket, scarf, beanie/winter hat, inappropriate coat, gloves, and layering pieces. If you are going someplace cold, I think it is important to have gloves that are waterproof. Having cold/wet gloves is almost worse than having no gloves. Many times I have forgotten an umbrella and had to buy one on the trip. Also, if it is raining, having clothes that get soaked is the absolute worst.
6. Carry bulky items. I live in San Antonio, and a heavy coat is rarely needed. However, packing my suitcase with a coat would be a disaster. This last trip, I actually carried two coats with me. One was a little lighter and more for an evening out. The other bulky coat was what I wore on a daily basis. Having these in hand during the flights left me without utilizing that suitcase space for these items. It is not too difficult to carry an item like this around and nice to have as a blanket to keep you warm on a flight.