I am here to share with you my top-secret process of packing. Okay, it’s not top secret, but I haven’t told anyone yet! I encourage you to not only listen to my process, but to adjust it to your own style.
Step One: Plan
Before you even bust out the suitcase, you need to know what you are packing for. Create a travel plan or itinerary. This is important to know what you will need for all parts of your trip. I recommend getting it down in writing so it could become a checklist later!
Step Two: Research
If you are doing a lot of attractions on your trip, research what you should bring and wear. For example, when visiting churches and cathedrals, most have dress codes. When I was in Rome, I had to have my shoulders and legs covered to even walk through the entrance. Rules like this are in place to offer respect.
Also, research the weather of where and when you are visiting. There are common seasons for rain in places like Dublin and London. When I went to St. Petersburg, Russia, I was caught off guard by 76-degree weather in the summer.
Another thing you can research is what people (such as bloggers) recommend you bring to the place you are going. There are many “what to pack for _____” post out there, utilize them!
Step Three: Make a List
While a detailed list could beneficial, it is also time consuming and unrealistic. What I recommend is creating a “Necessities” and “If I Have Space” list.
The “Necessities” List includes things you can’t go without. Camera, Camera Card, Underwear, Rain Jacket, Student ID, etc. are things that I put on my list. My warning with this is to make sure you are honest with yourself. Make sure things you don’t need to creep onto this list.
The “If I Have Space” List includes things you want to bring, but can go without. This is a dangerous list, too. It won’t punch you in the face, but it might make your bag overweight. I recommend making the list of all the thing you want to bring and narrow it down to one or two of the things when you are ready to go to the airport.
These lists could be as comprehensive as you want. Tailor it to your personality and needs!
Step Four: The Suitcase
I would get a medium size suitcase for any trip. While a large suitcase holds more, it is unrealistic to carry abroad. When I went to Italy the first time, I travelled from Rome to Naples to Capri to Pompeii to Florence. I was thought, this is a big trip and I need a bag to match it. NO. After that trip, I spent five weeks travelling Europe. I brought a 23” suitcase for this trip, and it was perfect.
Also, know your carry on and what needs to be in it! Always bring travel toiletries and a change of clothes!
Step Five: The Carry On
My favorite carry on so far has been my Patagonia or Osprey backpack with a lot of pockets! My carry on always has a change of clothes and my valuable and/or breakable items. For example, I keep my camera with me. I have my laptop in a separate pocket for easy access in security. Also, I keep my liquids in a baggies that can be easily accessed, as well. Other than that, my carry on has snacks and books that I buy before my trip!
Step Six: Get the stuff together
Look at you itinerary and lists and get the stuff you have all together in one place of your home. Even though you might wear the clothes before your trip, I recommend putting together outfits about two weeks before your trip. By doing this you know what you have and what you need to buy. Also, know what you are planning to put in your carry on.
If you love lists like me, you will like this! At this point, I create a “Things I Need to Buy” list. This is a list to tell you what you need (or want) to buy to make sure you are prepared for your trip. This will correlate or be added on to your “Necessities” list.
Step Seven: It’s in the bag
Now it’s easy. Just put it all in your suitcase. This is the first time you put all your stuff in your suitcase. I would do this around a week before your trip. If there are clothes that you want to bring but wear in that week before your trip, lay them out and plan for it. Since this is the first time, make sure you have space! There will probably be things you remember to bring or still need to buy. This part of my process usually tells me how much space I am working with.
Step Eight: Repack, Repack, Repack.
I repeat this step constantly throughout the week. I recommend you do this at least twice before you take off. Repacking multiple time helps you know exactly what you are bringing, gives you the ability to organize, and will ultimately provide for a less stressful trip! I organize my bag using packing cubes and Ziploc baggies. These are so beneficial and helpful throughout your trip too! Especially if your hopping from place to place on your trip, packing cubes are a life saver.
Make sure you leave space for souvenirs and gifts! NEVER stuff your bag before you go on a trip. You don’t want the reason you don’t buy something special a lack of space in your suitcase!
Pro tip: I recommend rolling up your clothes instead of folding or stuffing! It really does save space!
Step 9: Close the Case
Step 10: Enjoy your Adventure!