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Savvy Packing Tips for Travel

Updated on November 1, 2019
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Nicolette Goff can't wait for her next trip to places off the beaten track. She loves to pack one carryon and head for the airport.

Lose that Extra Weight

Are you an overpacker? Can't leave home without it?

When you're packing for your next trip, the two best words of advice are: "Lose weight". How do you deal with the insecurity of thinking you can't do without it?

How can you avoid the excess weight and baggage charges that almost every airline now charges? First of all, make sure you're aware of the baggage allowances of the airline. Not all airlines will let you check two bags. (And are you sure you really need all that stuff?)

Here are some tips for your luggage diet, making your travel much more flexible and enjoyable, and perhaps less costly.

Step One: Make a List

If you're new at this lighter travel, step one is to make a list of all the items you are taking, including the quantities. Toss the list into your already packed bag, and go. While you're away, record anything you forgot, but really needed on that same list.

When you get back home, cross off anything you didn't use, or could have done without.

Next trip - go with the pared down list. If you repeat this each trip, you'll soon have your packing down to the bare essentials.

5 Amazingly Compact Ways to Pack

Hand Luggage for Essentials

Sometimes the unthinkable happens. Bags go missing. That's where hand luggage comes into play.

Make sure all your valuables are in your hand luggage and always pack a spare change of clothes in your hand luggage too. If the worst happens and your checked bag is lost/delayed, you'll be thankful.

Even that doesn't always work, though. On one trip to Turks and Caicos several years ago, my husband's checked bag didn't show up for a week. Luckily the owner had an extra pair of shorts and a bathing suit he could spare! (North Caicos where we were staying had no shops.)

So, pack that hand luggage with essentials! That way you won’t have to rush to the shops as soon as you arrive to buy replacement clothing.

By the way, it's carry-on all the way for him now.

Step Two: Can I Buy it There?

Don't take stuff you can buy when you arrive.

Pack the smallest possible toiletries in your carry-on (in the now regulatory sealable plastic bag) and buy more when you get there. This step alone can save you a lot of weight.

As far as clothing goes, one seasoned traveler's advice is to pack what you think you need, then unpack, and take half the stuff, and twice the money! This really works if you're traveling somewhere that is a totally different climate and economy from your home.

For example, I've never taken a sweater to Ecuador, because you can buy gorgeous hand knits for under $15.

Re-evaluate Your Luggage

Personally, I like either a backpack or a light carry-on. Nothing more.

However, if you like more space and don't mind checking a bag, purchase some of the new luggage and accessories that are made of tough light nylon, with wheels. Hard shell cases can add kilos to your weight allowance.

The hybrid backpacks with wheels make it a heck of a lot easier whether you're negotiating the escalators or hiking on rocky trails. Many come with a detachable day pack, and even have built in organizers.

You can also now find 'compression sacks' - put in your clothes, flatten to remove air, seal, and presto - up to 80% more space! Folder bags are available for grouping larger clothing items and reducing creases.Travellers Stores will have these, or you can order them online. Eagle Creek has a good selection of accessories.

If you're buying gifts and souvenirs, then some of the expandable luggage on the market might be what you need. You'll go to your destination light, but come home a bit heavier.

Compression Sacks for Packing

The packing secret weapon. Get up to 80% more space. Segregate the dirty or wet from the clean. Don't leave home without them!
The packing secret weapon. Get up to 80% more space. Segregate the dirty or wet from the clean. Don't leave home without them!

Go With Carry-on

We all seem to be convinced that the airline is going to lose our luggage. And yes, that does happen, and yes, you can probably do just fine with carry-on. Exactly what qualifies as carry-on is nebulous, depending on the airline.

Check on what the security and airlines regulations allow - both size-wise, and contents, before you buy or travel. Your carry-on is always subjected to search of some kind, and you don't want to have some of your stuff end up in the garbage can.

Try it. On your next trip, breeze through with just your one carry-on bag, and smile to yourself when you pass all those waiting for baggage or struggling with their huge cases.

You'll breeze through the airport and be the first one on your way to adventure, light hearted and light weight.

Do you always travel with just carry-on?

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