Whether it’s a week-long excursion or just a quick getaway, packing for a trip can be the ultimate headache for some travelers. Frequently, the problem is knowing how to avoid overpacking while remembering to bring the essentials. Rachel Davis, International Admissions Coordinator at Truman State University, often travels for weeks at a time across multiple countries talking to potential international students. She offers the following packing tips and gives general traveling advice that anyone might find useful.
Always try to pack less. The natural tendency for many people is to pack as much as possible with a “just in case” mindset, Davis says. Rarely will you find yourself actually using everything you pack. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to some items. Frequent travelers might keep lists of items they pack so they can take note of what they actually use for future reference. Avoid unnecessary and bulky items. Appliances such as hairdryers take up too much suitcase space and can usually be found in hotels.
Pack versatile items. Davis says she packs a lot of light, comfortable dresses because they’re easy to wear and are one-item outfits. Packing clothing that can be easily layered is also helpful. Davis says travelers tend to overpack because they want to be prepared any type of weather. Packing a few cardigans or light sweaters that can be worn over anything when it’s cold can help.
Shoes. Davis says shoes are often the most problematic packing items. A desire for different styles and colors can cause travelers to pack too much. Davis says it helps to choose a staple footwear color that can be worn with many outfits. Picking one style for both work and casual settings can also reduce the pairs of shoes you pack. Plus, wearing shoes you can take off easily for security checkpoints in airports will help minimize travel headaches.
Keep important documents in an easily accessible pouch. You’ll need items like passports, boarding passes and luggage padlocks at multiple times throughout long trips. Having them in an accessible location in your carry-on saves a lot of time, says Davis.
Don’t forget about electronics. Always have your phone charger in your carry-on, and charge your phone fully before your flight to avoid needing an outlet at the airport. A converter or adaptor for international travel is helpful since many countries use different voltage. Davis says it’s also a good idea to have a small address book with important numbers or contacts. You don’t want to depend solely on your phone for important information.
Money. When you’re traveling to another country, try to bring money in that nation’s currency. Smaller bills are good to have when you need to tip. Davis also encourages travelers to avoid changing money in airports since exchange rates are higher there. Banks or hotels usually offer better rates.
Keep in mind… Heavy books can weigh bags down, so pack a lightweight paperback or electronic reading device instead. Small lotion bottles can also be helpful in places with temperatures that are hard on your skin. Finally, remember you will have to carry everything you pack. Bringing only what you can transport comfortably yourself will make for a much more enjoyable trip.