The worst thing is having to worry about a ton of luggage; whether or not it's going to make it to your final destination, lugging it around, not being able to climb stairs, being limited when it comes to traveling on trains, planes, busses or even cabs. Trust me when I say that I've traveled both extremely heavy and extremely light, and I now opt for the latter. First things first, how to maximize space and what do you really need to bring? Can you pick that stuff up once you get there, or are these items things you just can't live without?
- Bring less than you need. You'd be surprised with how much of the same products and items countries around the world have to offer. They might not have a CVS with the exact contact solution you like to use, but they will surely have contact solution. If you're hung up on your own favorite products, bring them. But, if you're willing to be spontaneous, wait to buy once you're there. Before I travel, I lay out each outfit for the day and then pack accordingly, that way I can save space and added stress of having to figure out what to wear. Quick tip for the ladies out there, bring your feminine products with you, I've found that many countries around the world lack proper feminine hygiene products, better to be safe than sorry!
- Use the "roll" technique. It's tempting to just stuff everything into your suitcase, I know, but rolling will not only preserve space, sit will also allow for less wrinkled items. You'll thank yourself upon unpacking once you arrive. In between the gaps are where I like to stick smaller items, such as camera batteries, underwear, hats, etc.
- Research (the weather). You might end up over or under packing based on where you're headed. We've all been there, packing 3 pairs of shorts only to wear that one pair of jeans the whole time. The trick is to check the weather and bring useful "layers". If I'm headed somewhere in Europe in say, September, where the weather could range from hot to cold, rainy or sunny any day, I'll make sure to pack a pair of leggings (for crisp days), a pair of shorts (in case it's hot), a tank and a long sleeve, one pair of long socks and a few pairs of running socks, a down jacket (compatible into a 5 in by 7 in ball), and of course a scarf in case I need to throw something around my neck in the evening or on the flight. If you fin that you didn't pack enough warm or cool clothing, you can always buy once there, don't forget!
- Gadget-ize! When I first started traveling, I'd bring books, sentimental things to keep me at ease, travel guides, printed documents, but they just ended up taking up way too much space. Your smart phone is your best friend. For reading, a Kindle is great to have, but for sentimental things, I stick to only photos and videos now, or pictures of things that remind me of home. No need for travel guides or printed travel documents when you can have them all at your fingertips on your phone now. Life saver.
- Wash in the sink. Some of us don't have the luxury to stay in 5 star hotels and get our stuff dry-cleaned, and even if we do, there are times when dry-cleaning takes days and proves to be very inconvenient, or maybe they lose your garment... it happens! Plus, for you backpackers out there, you should always be washing your clothing in the sink. I know high end professionals and dignitaries who do it (shh!) on their trips to save time. All you need is some of the hotel shampoo, or better yet, bring your own travel sized bottle of detergent, and right when you arrive or after your first few days there (depending on how much you're moving around), wash your things in the sink, then let hang dry inside the room. They will take anywhere from 10-24 hours to dry. It's worth it, trust me. Save yourself some time and money!