6 Packing Tips for Traveling Abroad
Are you one of those travelers who packs 7 pairs of shoes, full bottles of shampoo and your suitcase weighs just under 50 pounds? Whether you travel a lot like I do, or occasionally (and now is the time to commit to making travel a priority), follow these 6 tips when packing for you next adventure.
Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about packing, especially when going abroad. I continue to pack more efficiently with each trip, my suitcase has gotten lighter and I can pack in an hour instead of 2 days!
Since traveling light is my goal, I start with a light-weight suitcase with 360 wheels. You will be pulling, pushing, lifting and carrying your luggage throughout your voyage, so make it easy on yourself. Trust me, it’s no fun trying to lug a 45 pound giant suitcase onto a train that’s stopping for only 5 minutes with 20 impatient people behind you. And keep in mind, those charming, antique hotels often do not have elevators. I own both soft shell and hard shell cases, I prefer the soft sided. Hard shell cases have a zipper down the middle and open flat. OK for your bed or floor at home, but not for small European hotel rooms. Soft shell cases take up half the space when open. Whichever style you choose, pick an easily recognizable bright color or print.
There are several schools of thought for packing: fold, roll or use packing cubes or bags. My daughter-in-law swears by the KonMari method. You fold clothes in thirds and then thirds again. Since each item will “stand-up”, your entire wardrobe is visible. Thanks, Kelly, I love this idea. I also use mesh lingerie bags for undies, socks and shoes. They are inexpensive and machine washable.
I haven’t used the packing cubes or compression/vacuum bags. I heard vacuum bags cause lots of wrinkles. Packing cubes take up luggage space, but you can organize complete outfits. Look for cubes with clear or mesh tops so you can see what’s inside.
I know I don’t have to tell you to pack your toothbrush. Since I do travel a lot, I keep my travel toiletry bag stocked and ready to go. The items are duplicates of everything I use daily at home (combs, hairspray, deodorant, toothbrush and paste, shampoo, etc.). You’ll never be without your favorite conditioner if your bag is always packed. Put anything liquid in plastic zip bags. Better safe than messy.
My best packing tip: Bring washcloths. I’m not sure if it is an American thing or not, but don’t count on European hotels to provide washcloths. So I never leave home without enough to get me through the entire trip. I purchase the cheapest package I can find and tuck them into the empty nooks of my suitcase. After use, I throw them away. I wrap fragile souvenirs in the leftovers to prevent breakage.
After blowing out a curling iron in Copenhagen, I purchased two, one with a plug that works in the UK and one for the rest of Europe. I travel often enough that the small expense was worth having good hair days. Most hotels provide hair dryers, so leave yours at home.
Adapters and chargers
European hotel rooms rarely have enough outlets to handle all your devices. If you’re sharing a room, that can mean double the phones, iPads, laptops, readers, etc. I bring a portable power strip charger (one that works in Europe and another for the UK) so I can charge 4 devices at one time. At the very least, bring a multi-country universal plug adapter.
What are your proven and efficient packing tips? I’ll share the best ideas in a future article.