This summer has definitely been a blast, but it's not over yet! On Friday I'm jet-setting to Miami for three weeks. I will spend a part of this trip repeating last year's road trip to Tampa, sans boyfriend, but with my family instead (so please pray for me). I plan on doing a lot of shopping, so I've got to be very strategic and that includes the way I pack my suitcase! I can never seem to get it right. I always either over-pack or under-pack. One time, I under-packed so badly, I had to Febreeze my shirts just so that I could keep wearing them, and go to Kmart to get more clothes to wear! I don't know what I was thinking on that trip. But hopefully I can say lesson learned this time around. And that's thanks to these awesome tips from Rachel over at Department of Wandering, some of which I've been using for years! Here are the best packing tips that will help you master the most common mistakes and have you quickly becoming a packing pro
1. Not checking your airline’s luggage limits
It might come as a bit of a surprise, but your luggage allowance depends on a few different things: the airline you’re flying with, your class of ticket and your destination. Budget airlines generally only include carry-on in the base fare and you’ll need to pay extra if you want to check bags. Checked baggage allowance also varies from airline to airline. So make sure you pay in advance or have the funds when you get to the ticket counter!
I remember a time when my luggage was overweight on Jetblue and I had to pay $100 for the overweight bag, but had I bought another piece of luggage, I would've only paid $35 for a second bag. Whereas, flying on Bahamasair, the first checked bag is free and a lot of times, they're willing to look the other way if your bag is overweight.
2. Packing slowly and as you think of things
A trap I’ve fallen into time and time again is slowly packing over a few days, placing items in my case as I go. Trust me when I say that this ALWAYS results in over-packing! What I started to do instead was devoting a specific chunk of time to pack and I laying out everything on the floor before putting anything in the case. This means that I can easily see what outfits work well together, which items are versatile and which aren’t. This also helps me to avoid the urge to pack extra things ‘just in case’ I was forgetting something because I can see it all laid out in front of me.
3. Not checking the weather before you travel
Okay, I know that the weather is always unpredictable, but it does help to check the upcoming forecast to get a sense of what the general climate will be like. It might be summer in your destination but the nights might still be cool or there might commonly be thunderstorms in the afternoons. Pack smart and arrive prepared for the weather conditions. The last thing you want to be doing when you arrive is madly hitting the shops in search of a raincoat or a sunhat!
4. Using a packing method that doesn’t work for you
Over the years I've evolved from simply folding clothes to rolling them. Some people say it works wonders but despite this magic space saving method, I have noticed it tends to make my luggage feel a bit heavier. Be sure to use a packing method that you’re comfortable to help you feel in control.
5. Letting hidden space go to waste
Space is sacred when you’re packing your bag and it’s sinful to let it go to waste. Pack smart by stuffing your socks, chargers and adaptors into your shoes, scrunching your underwear into the cups of your bras and even rolling a belt around a collared shirt. (It's also a great way that we Bahamians evade Customs taxes).
6. Bringing mismatched outfits
The key to smart and effective packing is planning your outfits beforehand. Pack essentials that you can easily mix and match. Organise your outfits around a simple colour scheme like monochromes or neutrals, add a pop of colour with a scarf, hat or jewellery and you’ll never be stuck for something to wear!
7. Not protecting containers of liquids
After a leaking bottle of avocado oil completely emptied itself in my suitcase during transit, destroying a lot of clothes in my suitcase, I now never forget to protect my bottles of liquid. The changes in air pressure means that bottles can pop open or simply leak unexpectedly throughout the flight. Don’t let this happen to you! Use some cling wrap under the lid of the bottle before screwing back on or my personal favourite, duct or masking tape and always wrap your toiletries back in an extra plastic bag to be doubly safe.
8. Packing heavy items that you can easily buy once you arrive
Leave that gigantic 1L bottle of conditioner or shower gel at home! Seriously, that thing would take up most of your weight allowance alone. Instead, squeeze small amounts of liquids into travel-sized mini bottles and simply buy more when you arrive at your destination. And hotel shower gels won't kill you!
9. Bringing more than three pairs of shoes
I always do this! I don't know why, but I always do! It's at the point where I've had to leave a pair of shoes at my boyfriend's house that I haven't worn in years! Trust me when I say this, no matter where you’re going and at what time of year, you’ll never need more than three pairs of shoes. As long as you bring something comfortable for active days (sneakers), something casual (sandals or flats) and something more dressy (boots or heels), you’ve got all bases covered.
10. Using luggage that’s difficult to use
I’ve tried and tested lots of different styles of bags over the years, from backpacks to duffle bags. When you have a bag that’s difficult to carry or secure, especially when you’re moving around a lot, it can cause endless frustration — believe me, I’ve been there! Don’t underestimate the importance of good luggage when travelling and make sure you invest in the right bag for you.