You’ve booked your flight. You’ve found the perfect hotel with an even more perfect view. You’ve done your restaurant research and know exactly where you’re going for each meal. You even managed to find some good deals to save a dime or two. The travel bug has been biting for months now, and you can’t wait to take a well-deserved break.
My Motto: Pack Early and Well — and Have a List.
But now comes the less-than-glamorous part — packing your luggage.
Even the most experienced travelers can struggle to figure out what to bring (and actually remember to bring it). Luckily, there are a few tricks that will help ease the stress of pre-vacation packing. Below are packing essentials that can help you stay organized, feel prepared, and head to your holiday in confidence.
1. Packing Cubes
One of the most daunting aspects of packing is ensuring everything fits perfectly in your luggage. Packing cubes are one of the best travel hacks to save you space and some sanity when sorting your suitcase. And this tip isn’t just for the meticulous, type-A planner; this is also perfect for the packing procrastinators. Having a way to organize your luggage can make your life easier both before and after the trip. Packing cubes can also double as a laundry bag throughout your trip to sort your dirty and clean clothes.
2. Toiletry Organizer
Hauling your hygiene products for your holiday is non-negotiable, but keeping those products organized can easily level-up your trip. Whether it’s your skin-care products, soap for the shower, or make-up you can’t live without — organizing is a game changer. Having all your necessities in one place makes it quicker and easier to find them. And not only can it save you room in your luggage, but it can save you counter space too. Your travel roommates will thank you!
3. Mini Reusable Bottles
When preparing for your trip, packing your favorite products may be at the top of your priorities. However, finding your go-to soaps and sprays may be hard to come by in travel-size packaging. Using mini, reusable bottles can help you carry them with ease — all while saving you a few bucks. Another added bonus? Using these toiletry bottles, rather than disposable products, is better for the environment.
4. Suitcase Cover
Having a suitcase cover is something that many people tend to shrug off. However, investing in protection can keep that quality luggage of yours safe and scratch-free for years. Not only do they protect your luggage, but they also help it stand out on the conveyor belt. This makes your belongings easier to find in a busy airport. Better yet, because they can be reused, suitcase covers are also an eco-friendlier alternative to cling wrap.
Pro tip: Make sure your luggage case is easy to open to ensure it goes through TSA smoothly.
5. Passport Pouch
When it comes to international travel, there are many documents you want to keep by your side. This can include your passport, boarding pass, and even proof of vaccinations if necessary. Relying solely on your pockets for protection may lead to missed flights or delays with customs. Investing in a safe way to carry them around can help you avoid those unwanted travel tragedies and stay organized. Plus, passport pouches can prevent wear and tear, as well as keep them protected from pickpocketing.
6. Portable Phone Charger
There’s only one thing worse than being in unfamiliar territory with low battery — being in unfamiliar territory with no battery. Your phone often holds mobile versions of flight tickets, proof of vaccination, and restaurant reservations. It also contains a GPS to navigate you, a translator to help communicate, and other helpful apps for your travel. Keeping your phone charged should remain a top priority, so bringing a portable charger with you is crucial.
7. Plug Converter
When it comes to keeping devices charged, there’s another important item to add to your packing list: a plug converter. If you’ve ever traveled to another country, you may have quickly realized that electrical outlets are not one-size-fits-all. Many places around the world have different ports, which is why it’s important to make sure you pack an adapter. You can even invest in one that will work in up to 200 countries. Make sure to do your research before you travel to decide whether or not a plug converter is needed.
8. Luggage Tracker
No matter how much you prepare for your trip, there is one aspect entirely out of your control — losing luggage. However, gone are the days of leaving it in the airline’s hands to track down. With a Bluetooth or GPS tracker, like AirTags (love these) or Tiles, you can find your belongings anywhere anytime. Not only do these trackers help you locate lost luggage, but they also prevent it from being stolen. If you’ve had your fair share of airport mishaps, you know how important this item is for smooth travel.
Also — one thing that has saved my life numerous times — I have a lightweight change of clothes and small essentials in my backpack. If the luggage is lost you have something for your meeting the next day and time to get to the store or have something delivered. No more worries.
9. Wireless Bluetooth Transmitter
If you don’t like using cheaply made, long-wired, complimentary headphones from the airline? Welcome to the club. Bluetooth adapters are necessary if you want to connect wireless headphones to the plane’s screen to watch your shows. Rather than hauling out your laptop or squinting at your phone, you can relax and enjoy screen time more comfortably. Also, because it’s an AUX cord, it can double as a way to stream entertainment on your hotel TV.
10. TSA PreCheck
If you travel frequently, TSA PreCheck could be well worth the investment. Walking into a busy airport is stressful, but skipping the long lines allows you to breathe a sigh of relief. However, having expedited access through security is not the only perk. With this upgrade, you do not have to go through the hassle of removing your belts, shoes, or lightweight jackets. You can also leave certain items in your carry-on such as laptops and certain liquids.
The price on this perk recently went up — which bugs me — but it’s still worth it.
Bringing your credit card on vacation is a no-brainer but putting cash in your wallet for the trip may (or may not) be. Having tangible money with you makes it easier to tip cab drivers, bellhops, and housekeeping staff. It’s also helpful when shopping at private vendors, markets, street sales, or other places that may not accept cards. They say carrying local currency is always a good idea in case of emergencies — though I have found, with a choice, local vendors prefer US cash. A perk — taking cash with you can often help limit spending while you are traveling as well.
12. First-Aid Kit
From medical emergencies to minor cuts and bumps, a travel-friendly first-aid kit is a great way to be proactive. This is especially essential for those who rely on regular medication or are prone to certain allergies. Keeping all your supplies in one spot makes it easier to find in a pinch if needed. Adding items such as band-aids, pain relievers, ointments, and gauze can help prevent making last-minute trips to a drugstore. And let’s be honest, no one wants to spend their time in a new city searching for the nearest CVS.
While planning your vacation activities can take priority over managing your packing list, having the right essentials can help relieve stress. From organizing your bag to being proactive about possible inconveniences, acquiring the right necessities is crucial to a successful vacation.
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