I get excited to pack up my gear and clothes for every trip I take. I have a box sitting in my apartment in which I slowly compile everything I want to bring with me. And although I enjoy packing, sometimes it’s tricky to get it all organized neatly. But I’ve managed to figure out how to pack luggage efficiently.
Here are some tips to think about when getting ready for your next vacation:
1. Roll Your Clothes
Save space by rolling your clothes rather than packing them flat on top of each other. Not only does it help prevent creases but it is a very efficient way to pack your clothing while maximizing the space in your luggage.
When backpacking, I keep my clothing in two 15 liter compression sacks. These are useful to squeeze out all the extra air between pieces of clothing and compress it down into a little ball to pack in the bottom section of my backpack. I keep my tops in one and all of my pants and bottoms in another and grab out what I need when I need it. Sometimes it gets annoying to have to undo all the straps just to get at one shirt, which might be buried in the bottom, but it lets me carry a few extra tops while I travel and keeps the rest of my bag organized.
Soft packing cubes are a godsend. They are the perfect organizational bags to keep the small things all together and easy to access. I have a large one that contains my toiletries so it’s easy to grab-and-go when I’m off to shower and get ready. Another one keeps my utility and medical items together such as laundry detergent, a multi-tool, a mini-med kit and prescription drugs. My third packing cube keeps all my tech cables, plug-in adapters, cords and chargers together. These little cubes make your backpack a lot neater and easier to pack up when you’re off to your next destination. I’m a fan of True Leaf Collections hand made, one-of-a-kind shaving kits and travel pouches.
4. Use Travel Size Containers
There are a few luxury items I bring along with me, one being salon-quality shampoo in 300ml bottles for long-term trips. Otherwise, downgrade your regular toiletry bottles into travel size containers. You can pick up shampoo and body wash anywhere in the world so there is no point carrying any more weight than you need. I like to use these soft GoToobs that are under 100ml and perfect for carry-on.
Another great purchase is a small and packable travel towel. They are lightweight and dry quickly. I usually carry two towels: one to use when showering and one to use at the beach and for scuba diving. The towel gets stiff from salt so isn’t great to reuse when toweling off from a clean shower.
Colour match clothing so you can mix and match everything. Stick to a clothing scheme of grey, white, and black for neutrals or beige’s, khakis and brown shades. Make sure each sweater can be worn with multiple tank tops. Items can be swapped out with different pants or shorts regardless of if it’s fitness gear or going out items. Choose plain tank tops and shirts and one or two that have patterns to add variety. Include accessories like hats. scarves, watches and necklaces to help make basic clothing look fancier during evenings out.
6. Carry a Second, Smaller Backpack
This doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, but I often carry a smaller backpack (usually no more than 22-26 liters) as well as my main bag. The backpack stays with me on buses and airplanes. It’s perfect to repack for day-trips or overnight hikes. In it I carry my passport, guidebook, a sweater, all of my technology and water and snacks.
Keep in mind that you want to have often-used items easily accessible. I keep my sleep wear on top, along with my toiletries and towel so I can grab them easily if I get to a location late at night. Utility items or activity-specific items that don’t get used everyday get placed in less easily accessible spots in my bag.
It’s not always easy to pack light. (I’ve been known to ship a few items of clothing home on 6 month trips). But as a final bit of advice: take one of each type or style of clothing with respect to the environments you’ll be traveling in (hot, cold, outdoor, nightlife etc.). Make items layerable. And remember – you can always buy another pair of pants at your destination if you really regret leaving your favorite jeans behind.