How To: Pack Like a Pro

It’s time for another vacation! And this time, I’m trying to pack as light as I possibly can for 2 weeks. Today, I’m going to share with you guys some tips on how to pack efficiently:

Purchase Quality Luggage.

Luggage choice is critical. Naturally, you’ll want to ensure that both your checked and carry-on items are safely and securely transported to and from your destination. I recently bought some new luggage from Calpak–a travel luggage company based out of California. Their luggage items not only durable, but also very sleek and sophisticated, which is perfect for the young traveler. Personally, I opt for hard case luggage because of its durability in transport. If you’re looking for durable luggage, Away and Samsonite are also great companies.

Click here to view my luggage set.


Carry-On Luggage vs. Checked Luggage

Whether you’re gone for 3 days or 3 weeks, there are pros and cons to checked luggage and carry-on luggage.

Carry-On Luggage

Pros: Carry-on luggage means there is no dealing with bag checking or baggage carousels. After being dropped off by airport services, taking suitcases with them allows travelers to avoid check-in lines and get to their flights more quickly. It also means getting to their ground shuttles more quickly upon landing. Taking suitcases on the plane allows travelers to keep their belongings close by, eliminating the chance of them being lost or delayed. Convenience is also a factor since travelers have everything they need during their trip with them at all times. Putting everything necessary for a trip in one container to take on the plane also promotes lighter, more efficient packing.

Cons: On the contrary, there is a limit as to what can be carried onto the plane in terms of size. Carry-on bags must be a certain dimension or they may have to be checked in at the last minute. Considering this, it may be a challenge to get a suitcase stowed on a full flight. Multiple carry-ons can take longer to get through the security checkpoint after being dropped off by ground shuttles. Carry-on luggage is also subject to TSA safety regulations, so this needs to be taken into consideration when packing things like personal care items. There will also be less room for bringing souvenirs and gifts back on the return trip.

Checked Luggage

Pros: Those traveling for longer periods of time or who need more items can bring what they need in their luggage. Rather than having to deal with multiple carry-ons, passengers can check their bags early and not have to worry about them again until they reach their destination. Checked luggage also makes getting through security easier and faster.

Cons: Unfortunately, checking suitcases does expose passengers to a certain amount of risk that luggage may be delayed, lost, or damaged. Upon landing, travelers must then go to the baggage return area and wait for their luggage with all the other passengers. Most airlines impose a suitcase limit per passenger as well as a weight limit, charging extra for exceeding weight limits. Dealing with checked bags in general can increase overall stress levels on a trip.

It’s important to keep in mind the length of your trip and the items that you will need to accommodate your stay when deciding whether to use carry-ons, checked luggage, or both. Take only what is necessary to avoid overpacking, added stress, and excess baggage fees.


Use Packing Cubes. 

Now that you’ve chosen your luggage, it’s time to pack! I recently started using packing cubes and it’s made a world of difference in the amount of space that I have when packing.

I separate my tops from my bottoms from my undergarments. I roll each item and place it in its respective cube.


Click here to purchase the packing cubes that I use.


Travel Size Everything.

Who truly needs an entire bottle of shampoo for a 4 day trip? No one. Take a trip to your local store and purchase empty travel-sized bottles to fill up with your toiletry items.

Certain items like body wash, mouthwash, and lotion can be purchased in travel sizes. However, some items like your morning face wash most likely can’t. I fill these 3 oz bottles with enough product to last me my entire stay and label them accordingly. Remember, at the TSA checkpoint, you are only allowed a quart-sized bag full of liquids, creams, aerosols, gels, and pastes, each of which have to be 3.4 oz (100 mL) or less, in your carry-on. Be smart, and follow this rule accordingly, or you’ll find yourself at the security checkpoint for longer than you anticipated. Also, it’s wise to keep your quart-sized bag in the front of your carry-on for easy access at the TSA checkpoint.


Pack A Personal Item (Wisely).

For longer flights, this is probably one of the smartest things that you can do. I also like to bring a handbag or backpack with me on a flight. Here are some of the things that I pack for a lengthy flight:

  • Passport – Don’t pack your passport in your checked luggage! Please keep it secure in your personal item.
  • Water – Remember, you can’t bring any liquids > 3.4 oz (100 mL) past the TSA checkpoint. However, you can bring an empty water bottle to refill after passing the checkpoint, or you can purchase water in the airport.
  • Snacks – Some of the best snacks to pack on a plane are those that are packed with protein and other nutrients. Try nuts, granola bars, trail mix, popcorn, fresh fruit/dried fruit, etc
  • Phone & phone charger – My iPhone 7 Plus goes with me everywhere. From checking in online to calling an Uber, having your phone charged and handy is undoubtedly essential for travel.
  • Camera(s) & accessories – I love my Fujifilm X-A3 Mirrorless Camera, and typically use it if I’m going sight seeing. I also recently purchased a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 for more special moments with these cameras and my iPhone 7 Plus, I’m sure to capture every moment. If you’re anticipating a little underwater adventure during your trip but don’t want to purchase the beloved GoPro, opt for the FRiEQ Universal Waterproof Case; I tested it for myself and it really works!
  • Portable device charger – Some time during the trip, you’re going to need to charge your electronic devices. A portable charger like the Anker Powercore+ is perfect for just that. It has years of battery life and is perfect even after a flight for the on-the-go traveler.

**Update on Anker Powercore+ – December 2017: Having used this device throughout my 10-day trip in Thailand, I ultimately found that it did not hold charge for very long–maybe a couple of hours, so I would rate this product a 3/5; it is a very convenient size and easy to travel with. If you only need it for occasional use, then I believe that this product would be more apropos. I will link a couple of other superior battery packs for long trips.

Mophie Charge Force Battery Station 

Belkin MIXIT Power RockStar 6600 

Anker PowerCore Speed 10000

  • Books
  • Sleeping Mask – Get some quality shut eye on your long flight and bring one of these
  • Earphone and earplugs – For those times you want to jam out or sleep in peace


Pack Realistically 

In short, be honest with yourself about what you’re likely to be doing and wearing on your trip. If you’re packing something purely for a what-if scenario, you should take it out of your suitcase.



Protect Yourself with Travel Insurance

Many people overpack to protect themselves against worst-case travel scenarios. While it’s smart to carry essentials like rain gear and a small first aid kit, you can’t pack for every possible travel crisis. And what if you lose your luggage? The best way to pack peace of mind is to get travel insurance.Travel insurance can include benefits like lost or stolen luggage coverage and travel delay coverage, which reimburses you for essentials purchased during a trip delay.



Additional Tips

If you’re not used to traveling, it can be a daunting task to prepare for.  Aside from packing, here are a few additional travel tips:

  1. Arrive at the airport early. For domestic, I recommend 2 hours early; for international, 3 hours early.
  2. Wear comfortable clothing, especially if you’re expecting a long flight. You will be moving through several security checkpoints, and the best way to get through those is to dress in loose-fitting clothing with slip-on shoes. Avoid jewelry if you can.
  3. Be knowledgeable about where you’re traveling to. Look up the weather for your stay and anticipate any location-specific items that you may need to bring.
  4. Do as much as you can before getting to the airport. This includes checking in and paying for luggage/excess baggage fees. The more you do before you get to the airport, the less overwhelmed you’ll feel.



Thank you for stopping by, and stay tuned for more posts!