Packing luggage is a skill that is too often learned by trial and error. And since most of us do not travel every week, it is a skill that often fades away to zero before our next trip. There are several simple steps you can take to ensure that your next travel packing adventure will be stress free.
1. Make a list in advance. By making a list of everything you want to pack before you start packing, you will know that you packed everything you need in your luggage. To make this work, prepare the list before you pack a single item. Then as you place each item in your luggage, check it off the list. And as a last minute check, review your list to be sure every item is checked and that there are no additional items you wish to add to your luggage.
2. Create a documentation pouch. Place all your important travel papers in a separate easy to reach pouch so you always know where they are. Include items like your tickets, hotel and car reservations, passport, etc.
3. Know your weights and counts. Every airline has limits on how many bags you can check in, how many you can carry on and what they all weight. Be sure all of your bags meet the regulations to make check in a snap. And if you think you need to take extra bags (or return with more than allowed), be sure to find out the cost of each extra bag in advance so there is no last minute sticker shock.
4. Pack with security in mind. With current security, your bags will be X-rayed. If the operator sees something that can't be identified, your bag will be opened and searched. Items that often cause a failure tend to be dense and oddly shaped items that the X-rays cannot penetrate very well. Pack your bags with this in mind. Place any potentially problem objects in an easy to position in your luggage so the operator can find and verify that they are harmless quickly. This will let you get on your way quickly.
5. Luggage sometimes gets lost. Plan for this by packing all your critical items in your carry on bags. This includes items like medicines, your glasses, traveler's checks, etc.
6. Pack what you need and no more. Depending on how long you are traveling and the purpose of your travel, you may find that you really don't need to pack 7 pairs of shoes or 3 business suits. Know what amenities are available at your destination to clean your clothes. This will allow you to pack only what you need and leave extra room for souvenirs and such on your return trip. Remember hotels often have irons and ironing boards, laundry and dry cleaning services available.
7. Your travel toiletries kit. While it is a bit more expensive, consider getting travel sized containers of toothpaste, hand cream, shampoo and conditioner, throw away toothbrushes, etc. This has many positive benefits. First, every container will be brand new and you don't need to worry about leaks in your luggage. Second, if you need extra room on the return flight, you can just dispose of all those little containers and not feel bad about throwing away an almost unused full-sized bottle of shampoo.
8. Pack and wear for the weather. Be sure you know what the weather at your destination is going to be like. You don't want to have just summer clothing only to find out that the weather is quite brisk in your destination. Also if you are traveling from a warm to a cold location, dress appropriate for the arrival point of your trip so you are not cold running to your car.
Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to a perfect vacation.