What you’ll need to pack for an international trip will depend on where you’re going and whether or not you’re traveling solo or with others. But whatever you bring, making sure it is lightweight, organized and consistently easy to repack as you move from place to place is critical. These ten tried-and-true travel-packing tips can help.
Pack for the expected weather
Romantic dreams of Paris can be foiled if your visit coincides with rainy season or chilly nights. Do a web search for average temperature highs and lows at your destination during the time you will be there, and choose clothing and accessories accordingly.
Make lists – one per traveler
The more travelers in your family, the more you need lists. But even solo travelers will benefit from thorough list-making before packing day. On your cellphone, create one list for each traveler. Then add to it over the course of a few weeks. This is a good way to note things each person uses daily or weekly so you don’t forget anything important.
Roll your clothes
Most of us fold, while we really should roll. Clothing that is rolled takes up less space, and emerges less wrinkled after many hours smashed into a suitcase.
Fill your socks and use a shower cap
Put your socks to work as protectors for breakables. Seal them in locking sandwich bags, and stuff them into your shoes for extra protection. And about those shoes – two pair per person, plus flip-flops is all you need. Use the hotel shower caps to cover the dirty soles of shoes for the trip home.
Bag it up
Organize clothing and other items in packing cubes, which are genius. Available from many retailers, they come in colors so you can color-code by traveler or by item category. They also make excellent holders for dirty laundry coming home. And, clear plastic zip-lock bags work miracles. Use sandwich-sized bags to hold toiletries, jewelry, power cords or small toys. Pack important paperwork, like copies of passports, credit-card company information, and travel medical insurance details flat in clear freezer bags.
Keep shirt collars and bras in shape
Roll a belt so it fits inside a shirt collar to maintain the collar’s shape. Stack bras, fold them in half, and then stuff the cup with socks or underwear to prevent flattening.
Put the heavy stuff by the wheels
Remember that your careful packing all shifts once you stand your suitcase up to roll it. Pack heavier items by the wheels so they stay put.
Bring an empty canvas tote
Don’t expect to find free bags at grocery stores or street markets in other countries. A heavy-duty canvas tote packs flat for the trip over, and will come in extremely handy while touring. Your tote can travel as a carry-on for the home leg of the trip, filled with your shopping treasures.
Bring a power strip so you only need one converter
The more travelers in your family, the more devices you have and the more charging equipment you need. To avoid having to invest in multiple power converters so you can plug in to the local electrical service, bring a multi-socket power strip that includes USB ports. That way, you need only one power converter, and can get by if there is only one outlet in your rental lodging.
Include a few things you don’t think you need, but will come in handy
So, you’ve made lists, rolled and packed, and you’re all set. Time to throw in some low-bulk extras you probably won’t think about ahead of time, but can be really helpful on your trip. Include a new deck of cards, a thermometer, a bungee cord, extra plastic bags in different sizes, instant coffee or cocoa, a plastic spoon, masking or painter’s tape, and a small flashlight.
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