10 Smart Packing Tips


If you have ever been on vacation and realized you haven’t worn the majority of clothes in your bag you are not alone. Each year thousands of people bring far too much or the wrong kind of gear. Here’s how to get smart at packing your bags with the right kind of clothing and travel kit.


  1. Plan ahead

A week before you go on vacation, take all the items you plan to pack and lay them out. Make sure they can be co- ordinated with each other. Anything that looks out of place or you are unsure about, remove it. Believe me you won’t need it. Ensure you have the correct kit for the type of vacation you are taking.

  1. Use Travel size

When packing your cosmetics and toiletries remember you don’t need a large container. Use the travel size shampoos and other lotions that are widely available. This cuts down on size and weight. Don’t forget to place them in a plastic bag to avoid leaks. Ziplock bags are also practical for storing items and preventing leaks from bottles.



  1. Use vacuum bags

Clear plastic vacuum bags are ideal for compressing items in a suitcase. Keep one handy for dirty laundry. It not only minimizes the size but keeps out any stale odors from your bag.

  1. Pack smart

Use a towel or coat as the base layer when packing and then layer the clothes in piles. Rolling clothes into bales also helps avoid creasing. You’ll be able to fit books and shoes around them and in the corners. A layer like a towel also helps prevent opportunistic theft from canvas bags.



  1. Avoid stains

Use shoe bags or disposable shower caps to avoid stains on clothes. Packing light colored items inside out will also help avoid stains.

  1. Buy a scale

A small hand held scales will help you avoid paying for excess baggage at the airport and keep to your limit. These are easy to use at home and will help avoid taking unnecessary items on vacation.



  1. Take care of valuables

Always carry money, identity cards, cameras, tickets, and other valuables in your hand luggage and not bags going into the hold. It is always helpful to put a spare set of underwear in your hand luggage in case your suitcase is delayed. Upload your photos, or make back ups occasionally in case your camera (or phone) gets lost or get damaged. A friend of mine told me that during his hiking journey from Mexico to Canada his Android phone rebooted itself, and he lost all his photos for the first 300 miles of his journey.

  1. If the shoe fits…

If you are on a hiking vacation wear your boots on the plane. If your luggage goes missing, most items can be replaced easily but a well-worn comfortable pair of boots is almost impossible to find.



  1. Minimize book space

Photocopy the essential guidebook information you need or use an e reader instead of carrying heavy books. Get your reading books from a thrift shop and leave them in book swaps along the way. This leaves space for your souvenirs on the return journey.

  1. Careful luggage choices

One of the heaviest items you have is your suitcase. Check out the weight and capacity when you buy and you’ll save pounds as well as have space. You may be allowed to bring that largest suitcase from the 5 pieces luggage set you bought as Costco last year…but how much will that weigh if you actually fill it? Airlines have tight limitations on weight per bag and also charge per bag. It’s better to bring two suitcases (one nested in the other) in case you think you’ll return home with more than you came with.  In the future, we’ll share some great tips on picking the right roller bag, and more.


Months of anticipation of a fabulous trip is nearly as much fun as the short trip itself. Maximize this joy and eliminate stress by starting early, putting items in your bags months in advance. Just before you go remember to take out all unnecessary items of course. Unless you are camping in the desert, it is likely you can buy anything essential you happen to need. I was raised a boy scout, and my motto used to be “Be prepared” and I took everything. Now I say, “Be prepared, take Visa”.

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