Traveling to a different country is an exciting experience, but it can also be a nerve-wracking one. If you’re going to someplace you’ve never been before, it can be hard to know what to pack. Paired with the fact that trips abroad tend to be longer than trips within the country, and you can soon find yourself inundated with hefty bags. Unfortunately, the last thing you want when traveling abroad is too much luggage. Extra luggage means extra fees on your flights and extra hassle getting transportation once you land. Instead, maximize your luggage with these minimalist packing tips.
Maximize Your Carry-On
The first step to minimizing what you bring abroad may seem counter-intuitive, but it makes a lot of sense. Maximizing what you put in your carry-on bag ensures that you have everything you need in case your main luggage is lost or delayed in transit while forcing you to make choices with regards to priorities.
At a minimum, your carry-on bag should have any toiletries and medicines you’ll need for the trip as you will not want to be without those if your main luggage is delayed. Keep these separated from the rest of your carry-on items by keeping them in a toiletry kit which you can grab when you need it. By keeping all toiletries and medicines in your carry-on, you also force yourself to follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, which will by necessity minimize these items and ensure you don’t overpack them.
Your carry-on should also have your wallet and passport case, both of which you’ll need for flying. Divide any cash you plan to have on you during the trip between these two items so that if you are to lose one or have one stolen, you still have access to an emergency cash storage.
After these necessities, the next things you’ll want in your carry-on bag include a change of socks and underwear in case of a flight delay, a pack of gum to keep your ears from popping, and any snacks or entertainment you’ll want in flight. Many planes these days have on-board movies, so skip the portable DVD player, which takes up unnecessary space, and just pack some neatly-wrapped headphones instead. Similarly, an iPad or eReader will take up far less space in your carry-on than bulky books would.
The final step in maximizing your carry-on is to tell yourself that any souvenirs you purchase abroad need to fit in it to come home. Because you’ll want to buy things while you’re on your trip, you will prioritize souvenirs over entertainment, minimizing unnecessary weight.
Use Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are a great way to save space and keep your luggage packed neatly. They tame your luggage and also allow you to separate types of clothes so that you can find what you need with ease. For example, you can keep underwear and socks in one cube, tops in a second, and bottoms in a third. This allows you to find what you need when you need it while abroad.
Packing cubes can also be easily stacked in luggage without worrying about whether your shoes will get your clothes dirty or your bathing suit will get your clothes wet, ideal if you’re doing something like a trip across Europe where you will be moving from hotel to hotel with frequency.
Plan to Wash Your Clothes
The fastest way for your luggage to get out of control is to pack an outfit—or two—for every day of your stay. Instead, pack with the intention of washing your clothes while on vacation. This allows you to pack a minimal number of tops, bottoms, and extras. For example, if you go into a trip planning to wash your clothes, there’s no need to pack more than one sweatshirt: Even if you get something on it, you can always throw it in the wash and have it ready to go the next time you need it.
Also keep in mind that some of the best souvenirs you can buy abroad are wearable items. Not sure if you even need a sweatshirt? Skip it for now, and if you find that you need it, you can easily find one in a gift shop.
In order to maximize your ability to wash your clothes abroad, be sure to book hotels with washing machine access. Always keep a few plastic bags in your luggage which can be used when carting dirty clothes to the laundry room and clean clothes back from the laundry room.
In a similar vein to doing laundry as you travel, you can also purchase additional snacks and toiletries during your time abroad, minimizing your need to pack these for the trip over.
Don’t Be Afraid to Leave Things Behind
Just because an item came overseas with you doesn’t mean it needs to go home with you. Your trip home should be lighter because you should be leaving behind the majority of your toiletries—most of which have been used up by now anyway—as well as any snacks beyond what you’ll need for your flight home. In addition to leaving these items behind, you can also leave behind magazines that you’ve already thumbed through or books that you’ve already read. You’re not going to use them again, they’ll take up extra space in your luggage that you don’t need them to take up, and the next person to visit your room may appreciate them more than you would.