There’s a fine line between efficient packing and obsessive-compulsive packing. Cary Cooper, a psychologist at Lancaster University, told Real Simple magazine that people’s fear of the unknown and playing out numerous what-if scenarios in their head pre-trip causes them to over pack.
Frequent travelers have turned packing into an art of sorts. These four tips will help you pack like the pros:
The worst feeling in the world is being 100 miles into your road trip, then realizing you forgot your blood pressure medication. This is where smartphone apps can be life savers (literally).
Packing Pro allows you to make packing lists by category. You can even make sub-lists. Stylebook is more complex, but a perfect option for people with a lot of clothes and a unique fashion sense. You can upload pictures of your entire wardrobe and use the calendar feature to schedule what you’ll wear each day. QuinnScape and Trip List are two more options to consider.
Clothing Is Key
Sometimes a little common sense trumps any fancy tricks when it comes to packing. Jeans are one of the most versatile, durable articles of clothing, but they also take up a lot of space. If your trip will span a week or less, carry only one pair and wear another. And be sure to bring wrinkle-free shirts that can lay flat at the bottom of a suitcase.
Wrinkles happen regardless with some garments, but there are several alternatives to packing an iron. The dryer method is one of the oldest and most common tricks. Put your wrinkled garments in a dryer with a water-soaked sock and dryer sheet. Five minutes later, you’ll have dryer fresh, wrinkle-free clothes. Another option is to hang wrinkled clothing on the shower rod while taking a hot shower.
This is a perfect segue from clothing choices. Most people use compression bags for the long-term storage of clothing, like putting away winter clothes for the summer. But more travelers are catching on to their usefulness and using them in suitcases.
The Independent Traveler blog has fascinating photos of a packed suitcase before and after compression bags. You can easily free up half the space in a previously full suitcase. Compression bags with vacuum attachments are the easiest to pack and prepare. But there are also options that require no vacuum that work just as well.
A few days into any extended trip, you will start accumulating dirty clothes, wet towels and potentially wet swimming trunks. You can’t just throw everything back into your suitcase together. That is where packing cubes come into play.
These small waterproof, odor-proof fabric containers allow you to pack items in separate compartments. For instance, one cube can be for underwear and socks, one for long-sleeved shirts, one for hygiene products, etc. You can even carry an empty one for dirty clothes so they don’t smell up everything else in the suitcase.
Eagle Creek sells sets of three in different sizes. Bago packing cubes also receive a lot of positive reviews.