I’ve been traveling since I was 2 years old. My parents split up when I was a baby, so visitation with my dad every other weekend prompted me to constantly have a bag packed. I had my own set of luggage with a duffel bag and suit bag for my clothes that needed hanging up. I also started traveling with my grandparents at a young age during my Thanksgiving breaks, so packing is nothing new to me. I brag to people that for a weekend trip, it takes me on average 5 minutes to pack, 15 minutes if it’s somewhere unfamiliar. However, I hear from so many people that it’s difficult for them to pack, a tedious chore that they leave until the last minute and can take hours out of their day. Although I may not have traveled to as many places as some active travelers, I know how to travel efficiently, saving money and time.
- Have a checklist: Although mine is memorized because I pack the same things, a checklist definitely helped me in the beginning. It’s the easiest way to avoid forgetting things at home. What do you put on your list? Things you use on a daily basis. Go through your daily routine. What products do you use? What do you put on first? Put those on your list.
- Get travel sizes: There’s nothing worse than packing full size bottles of lotion, shampoo, or mouthwash, especially if you’ll only be gone for a short period of time. Get smaller sizes of deodorant, toothpaste, and even brushes, and keep this in a toiletry bag. Having a dedicated travel set will allow you to keep this bag packed so that you never forget an item.
- Consider a carry on only: Some airlines charge you for checking in bags, then you have to deal with waiting for your bag to come down that carousel and even risk having the staff lose your bags! Consider packing a bag that’s small enough to be carried on the plane. You’ll save time since you’ll have your bag, and you’ll save money since sometimes carry on bags are free of charge. Just remember, TSA has been cracking down, and has certain restrictions when it comes to liquids you carry on the plane (that includes shampoo, cleanser, and shower gel).
- Reuse clothes: For the fashionistas out there, this may be completely out the question, but for those who are focused on being efficient, this rule is a must. Instead of packing 3 pairs of pants, 3 pairs of shirts, and 3 pairs of shoes for a 3 day trip, see what pieces you can mix and match. Can you wear a pair of pants twice during your trip? How about a jacket? The less clothes you pack, the lighter your bag will be and the more room you’ll have.
- Utilize shortcuts: One of the reasons I really enjoyed the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney is because his character really got the check in process down to a science. Before going to the airport, check-in online if possible, and print an e-boarding pass. You may even have the option of checking your bag in online too. To make your trip through TSA smoother, I suggest wear easy to slip off shoes, a light jacket (since you’ll have to take it off), no belt, no watch, and be sure you can take your laptop out your bag easy (since they scan it separately). George Clooney also suggests avoiding getting in line behind people with kids, as they almost always take longer.
- Avoid souvenirs: As great as it is to take home a keepsake from your trip, I always suggest to people to pack with the smallest bag you have. Travelers almost always come home with more than they left with. If you’re checking in a bag, most airlines charge by the weight of your bag, so leave the snowglobes (sorry FINCON11 sponsors!) and shot glasses for another time. If you absolutely can’t live without the stuffed animal with your destination on it, consider shipping it with a flat rate box via the post office.