Tips for Packing on Trips

Every seasoned traveler has their travel secrets. Whether this means you know where you can get free wi-fi or you dress to match the locals, it is important to know how to prepare yourself.

 I will admit – I am no travel expert but I do have my travel packing guidelines that I’ve learned to stick with through my adventures. (I have traveled internationally three times in the last six years and travel in the United States frequently.)

  1. Research the climate – and culture – of where you will be traveling. While South Africa might be considered warm, for example, they have their own winter season in June and July, where it is overcast and about 40 or 50 degrees Farenheit. (Thus, shorts and skirts might not be appropriate.) On the other side of things, wearing “modern” clothing, such as jeans or tube tops, might be as accepted as wearing clothing that covers the middle and is more “old-fashioned” and classy in nature.
  2. While you may have a favorite top or skirt, bring clothes that easily mix and match – especially if you are staying in a location for a lengthy duration. Solid colored bottoms enable tops that are plain or patterned to easily create new outfit combinations. Accessorizing also helps bring out fresh outfit ideas – allowing you to maintain your fashion preferences while wearing outfits that you do not tire of.
  3. Bring clothes that are easy to clean. A silk top might not be the best option for traveling inside the Amazon jungle – nor are jeans the only bottoms that should be brought to an area where it rains frequently. By packing clothes that will be easy to clean and dry, whether it be by hand or machine, you will be more comfortable in your clothing and have clothes that take less time to become clean once again.
  4. Bring the essentials. If you use only one type of shampoo or are picky on your toothpaste, you should plan on bringing enough to last the duration of your travels. While some American generic brands are available around the world, special name brands are less likely to be available – and if they are, it will be at a high cost. The smart traveler knows to bring enough of the basics to last a few days, until a store can be reached, if they are not picky about their bathroom essentials – and enough to last the entire trip if they prefer or need to use special brands.
  5. Bring toilet paper and always carry some on you. If you travel only in the United States, this may seem a bit silly. But once you leave the borders, there is no telling what may be different. In Japan, men and women use squat toilets – which are essentially urinals in the ground. In Rwanda, many of the traditional restrooms are the same – with no toilet paper and no lighting. (And according to a friend of mine who traveled to India, the rural parts of there do not use anything to…meet the same uses as toilet paper.) Even if there is toilet paper, one cannot assume that it will be free or the same thickness that Americans have become accustomed to. To avoid any of these situations, bring toilet paper and keep your napkins from meals in a bag that you will always carry with you. This will help you feel more comfortable when your body needs to do its business.
  6. Bring things that can stay there. If you are intending on buying souvenirs and have already reached the weight and holding capacity of your bags, you might run into some issues. Some people’s solutions may be to buy an extra bag that can be filled; however, if this is done on every trip, not only is it costly – it also adds to your luggage pieces at home. By bringing towels, shirts or underwear (anything!) that can be left behind, you can save space for what you really want to bring home – like that basket from a local artisan in Cambodia or a piece of pottery from Mexico.

 Whenever I travel, particularly abroad, I try to stick with these few rules or guidelines in packing. There are definitely moments and trips where these guidelines are easier to follow than others. There are also many travel experts (official and unofficial ones) who have their own rules that they share through word of mouth, the internet, or books. I encourage you to create your own list of travel tips and guidelines that work for you. After all, the things you bring don’t really make the journey – they just make the journey a little easier.

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