Once you book your flight and accommodation, the most important thing to do before heading over to your travel destination is to pack your suitcase. But knowing how to organize a suitcase isn’t always easy. Sometimes, deciding on what to take with you can be a bit overwhelming, and it is easy to overpack or under-pack when your packing habilities are not on point. And this can be particularly true for travelers who wait until the last minute to organize their suitcases.
Each trip can teach you something about luggage organization, so it never hurts to have expert advice at hand to keep improving your packing skills. Say goodbye to over-stuffed suitcases with these 12 practical tips on how to organize the perfect luggage.
1. Study Your Destination in Advance
The reason why this tip is on the top of the list is simple: when you learn about your travel destination and decide what kind of activities you’re going to do there, it gets much easier to pack accordingly. We’ll explain. Before traveling, make sure you answer yourself a few questions, such as “What are the main activities that this place offers?”, “What will the weather be like during my trip?”, “Are there any local clothing etiquette rules on my destination I should be aware of?”. This will help you pack according to the place, and not according to your current mood or to your intuition.
Here’s a practical example of how learning about your travel destination can help you pack better. Let’s imagine you’re going to spend 15 days in Bali in December, for instance. If you check the weather in advance, you’ll see that this is the rainiest season on the Island, so you might want to pack a raincoat and a pair of rain boots with you. One of the must-see attractions in Bali are the beautiful Hindu temples, which we’re sure you’ll want to visit. But, with respect to the local culture, visitors must adhere to specific dressing codes, such as wearing clothes past the knee and having their shoulders covered. If you know about this in advance, you’ll pack exactly what you need for each specific occasion.
2. Make a List
Now that you know more about your travel destination, and what are the main attractions there, it’s time to make a list. Writing everything down — either on paper or on your phone —, will help you have a better perspective on what you’re taking with you. Having a list on hand when packing your suitcase it’s also the best way to guarantee that you do not forget anything essential, or carry unnecessary things that only add weight to the suitcase.
A great idea for making a list when packing your suitcase is to organize it into different sections. You can create a specific list for clothing, one for shoes, another one for documents, and one for hygiene products and cosmetics. This will make it even harder for you to forget something, and you can have a clear idea of what’s missing.
In case you want to level up your list a bit more, a good idea is to download an organization app. In general, travel apps are extremely practical, as they gather all the information you might need in only one place. And if you’re looking for a great organization app, we recommend PackPoint, which helps you organize your list based on your destination, local weather, and length of stay.
3. Prepare the Suitcase According to Your List
This might seem obvious, but it’s not. Many fall into the temptation of creating a packing list and then ignoring it when organizing their travel suitcases. If you took proper time to make an organized list of what to take, make sure you try to follow it. But, of course, you might need to make some adjustments while packing for your trip.
You can start by putting the essential elements of your packing list first and after that the necessary items, which are not essential. If at this point the suitcase is already full, you might wanna step back and think of what items you can leave home. If there’s still space, avoid the temptation of including more things in it, as you might want to buy souvenirs or even go shopping during your trip.
4. Carry a Basic First-Aid Kit
Taking a small first aid kit with you is always a good idea, just in case. Especially if you have any medical conditions, or need specific medication, packing a compact first aid kit may be a good idea. But, before organizing it, make sure to check the official information about medicines from the country you are traveling to, to avoid any unpleasant surprises. If you follow a medical treatment, it is advisable to have an appointment in advance, as you might need to take a letter from your doctor confirming the treatment. This document should be able to justify the number of medicines your taking.
Once learning about how to legally travel with medication, it’s time to pack them. Keep them in their original containers, and put them in a clear plastic bag. Also, always take the medicines with you in your carry-on luggage. That way, you can have easy access to them, and in case your baggage gets lost, you’ll still have your prescription medications with you.
5. Fill in Your Contact Information on the Luggage Tags
Almost all suitcases come with labels to fill. Be sure to indicate your contact information in case one day you or the airline loses your luggage. Do not just post your mailing address. If you change your address, your data will not work at all. It would be a great idea to put your username on the social network that you use the most since it will be, maybe, the fastest way to contact you.
6. Take Luggage Restrictions Into Account When Packing
If the airline allows 50 pounds, for example, that will be the maximum you can carry. Always check the airline’s official website, as conditions may change at any time and you will not want an unpleasant surprise when you arrive at the airport. Try to weigh your luggage before leaving home with a scale or luggage weighing device, because there may be some discrepancy between your scale and the airport. When making your packing list, a great idea is to also include this luggage weighing device in it. That way, you can also weigh your luggage before coming back home from your trip. This will avoid any extra weight.
7. Avoid Taking Too Many Shoes
Footwear is one of the most important things for the traveler. After all, depending on the destination you’re probably going to walk a lot, so your shoes must be comfortable. That’s why it’s important to take into consideration the type of destination you are going to, for how long you’re going to stay there, and what kind of activities you are going to carry out. It is not the same to have a three-day city break in Barcelona as it is to cross Russia in the Trans-Siberian, for example. So your travel destination is going to determine the type and number of pairs you will take with you in your suitcase.
Remember to bring at least one pair of comfortable shoes that can be used for all kinds of situations and, to maximize the space and weight of the luggage, put socks in your shoes and wear the heaviest footwear.
But, independent of the location, try to avoid taking too many shoes. Try to pick 2 or 3 pairs that are suitable for many different occasions, and you can alternate between them. Shoes take space on your luggage, so don’t overpack them.
8. Roll Up Your Clothes
Some travelers will not agree with this, but we firmly believe that rolling clothes is a great practice to save space, in addition to avoiding wrinkles in most clothes. There are folding technique videos on Youtube, and you can watch them before packing. And, in case rolling up your clothes is not your preferred organization technique, feel free to choose the one that suits you the best.
9. Use Packing Cubes
Another great idea for organizing your belongings into your luggage while packing is to use packing cubes. They’re basically fabric pouches used to compartmentalize the contents of your bag. Packing cubes can help you have an organized suitcase, and also save space, as the items are all compressed together in one space.
And there are many ways you can use packing cubes, such as packing specific outfits or separating clothes according to activities and occasions.
If you like the roll-up folding techniques, you can also use it to organize your clothes into packing cubes. This will save even more space.
10. Put a Basic Set of Clothes in Your Carry-On Bag
The hand luggage is, basically, for the essential, necessary, or important. We have already talked about medicines, but there is something else that you should not forget to pack in your carry-on bag: a change of clothes. Many things can happen during the journey and unfortunately losing your checked baggage is one of those things. So be sure to put at least underwear and a T-shirt to change.
Another important thing to put on your carry-on bag is a compact set of essential toiletries, such as toothpaste, and toothbrush. You can also pack some skincare items, such as a facial cleanser, a moisturizing cream for your face, and a lip balm. But, to avoid any unpleasant surprises, make sure you check the airline regulations before, as there is a certain amount of liquids you can take.
11. Put The Most Important Items on Top
We know we asked you to add the essential elements of your packing list to your luggage first. But here’s a trick: after putting everything on your suitcase, you can reorganize the items in a more practical way, and make small adjustments. A great packing idea is to keep the most important items on top of the rest. But why? Well, in case you need them, they’re handy and easier to get. Let’s suppose you’re at the airport and have to get something important inside your luggage. If this essential item is placed on top of the other less important things, you’ll have an easier time finding it, and won’t have to unpack the entire suitcase in the middle of the airport.
12. Do Not Forget the Adapters
Few things are more unpleasant than arriving at your destination, only to find out you can’t use or charge any of the electronics you brought with you. To avoid this kind of hassle, make sure you include the necessary plug-in adapters into your packing list and, of course, into your suitcase. You might also want to do a quick research about the electrical outlets and voltages of the place you’re traveling to, especially if you’re going on an international trip. In this case, a great idea is to buy a universal plug adapter, which is usually small and allows you to charge your electronics everywhere you go.
And, since we’re talking about charging electronics, a great item to add to your luggage when packing is a power bank. While traveling, people usually use their smartphones a lot, and some apps, such as Google Maps and Instagram, consume a lot of battery. By having a power bank in your bag, you’ll be able to charge your phone everywhere.
Looking for more tips? Check out our blog to find other ways to prepare for your one-of-a-kind getaway!
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