12 Feb 2018

How to Maximize Your Suitcase While Traveling

How to Make the Most Out of Your SuitcaseIt’s always a chore to pack for a trip, even if it’s a casual vacation. It may be especially difficult to plan for a backpacking trip when traveling light is essential. However, by learning a few simple tricks from frequent travelers, it’s possible to lighten the load and maximize your suitcase capacity at the same time.

It matters less whether you’re flying to Europe for three weeks or heading out on a wilderness hike for three days: You want to carry as little as possible and have everything you really need with you.

Simple, right?

Stick to the Essentials

No matter what the destination, the season or your traveling plans, there are limited items you really have to have along. They include:

  • Comfortable, serviceable footwear
  • Clothing that is appropriate for planned activities, and adaptable for local weather conditions
  • Personal grooming products
  • Necessary health and safety items: Medication, eyeglasses, knee braces, etc.
  • Tech gear: Smartphone or tablet and earbuds, probably, at the least.

Unless the trip is truly to the back country, most travelers can restock, refresh and wash underwear along the way. Think multi-purpose: Beach flip flops can double as slippers. A swim coverup can also serve as a robe. Remember that dressing “to the nines” is hardly necessary nor even appropriate for most business trips, and certainly not for vacation travel. Aim for ease and comfort when planning a traveling wardrobe. Develop a color palette that allows layers and lots of mix and match options. Always bring or wear a crushable sun hat!

Pack Strategically

Today’s suitcases, backpacks, computer totes and carry-ons are generally well-designed and durable. The invention of rolling bags revolutionized travel the way cellphones changed the world of communication. And it’s all good. But just because travel bags have a lot of bells and whistles, nooks and crannies and can stow a lot of gear doesn’t mean that they need to be filled to overflowing.

Consider buying or renting some necessary gear when you reach the destination rather than toting it with you.

Leave room to bring home souvenirs if you plan to buy t-shirts and family gifts. Alternatively, purchase a tote bag that will remind you of good times and plan to use it as a carry-on on the return trip.

Again, whether heading out on a sailing voyage or zooming across country on the back of a motorcycle, know that the less you bring along, the freer you’ll be to explore and have fun. And that’s the whole point of traveling, isn’t it?

Think in practical terms. Cushion hard edges with soft fabric; stuff socks, jewelry and oddly-shaped items into shoes. Enshroud liquids and gels in plastic bags (pack a couple of spares as well!) and discover the miracle of reusable vacuum compression bags.

Go Paperless, but Get Organized

There’s little need today for paper tickets, maps, itineraries or even journals, but be sure to have a backup plan in case the travel details so dutifully stored on your phone are inaccessible or you lose that “lifeline.” Cloud storage works if you can access the internet—and if you know your passwords.

Consider a service that will organize traveling plans all in one place. If you’re traveling with a companion, share information with one another and exchange reminders, as well. Leave a copy of the itinerary along with emergency contact numbers with family and/or friends at home. Memorize or keep emergency phone numbers for your bank and credit cards in your wallet along with limited cash. Never write down pin numbers or important passwords without encoding them or devising a code that is meaningful to you alone.

Most importantly, resolve to enjoy the trip!