You've booked your tickets and hotel on your favorite travel website, made plans and scoped out your favorite attractions. Next comes packing. When preparing for a trip, it's tempting to try to pack your entire medicine cabinet and wardrobe. Regardless of for how long or where you travel, it's always best to pack light. The less you carry with you, the less you're likely to lose. Plus, checked bags could take up to $75 out of your travel budget. Money spent on checked bags is money you could spend on local food, entertainment or souvenirs. But there are clever ways to bring the feeling of home with you abroad and still save space and money while traveling.
Cool and Contained
It's amazing how many uses common items like binder clips, contact cases and medicine bottles have, especially when applied to travel. One of the best ways to pack light is use small containers for your toiletries and jewelry. For example, contact cases can hold liquid and powder makeup, jewelry or pills.
For jewelry, string necklaces through a straw to prevent tangles, use buttons as earring holders or keep rings in daily medicine boxes.
Cotton swabs fit comfortably in old medicine bottles and you can wrap ear buds around binder clips to keep wires straight and have easy access to your audio on and off the plane.
If you're feeling crafty, cut and seal plastic straws and fill them with a single-use portion of lotion or soap. Potholders are great heat guards for curing irons, and tea containers are the perfect size to hold a small first aid kit.
To keep soap and shampoo bottles from leaking on your clothes, place a sheet of plastic wrap over the bottle and under the cap. If you plan to carry cash on you, an emptied lip balm tube fits a roll of cash safely and discretely.
Packing two weeks of items in a small carry-on bag is a fine art. In our research, we discovered that there is a "proper" way to pack your bags, no matter the duration of your trip or the size of your luggage. You may have wondered whether you should roll or fold clothing, but the consensus is it's best to roll wrinkle resistant items like sweaters or jeans and fold starchier clothing like collared shirts or formalwear.
Begin packing your bag with your shoes at the bottom with your socks and underthings tucked into them. For the second layer, pack heavier rolled items like jeans and sweaters next. If you have any fragile items, sandwich them between the heavier and lighter rolled items like t-shirts and casual clothing. Finally, pack folded items and formal clothing at the top of your suitcase with your toiletries.
Place a belt inside collared shirts to keep them stiff and fold blazers inside out to minimize wrinkles. These clothes will be the first you can access so you can unpack or hang them first.
While it's always good to go unconnected on vacation, it's not always practical. Before you travel abroad, scan important documents and email them to yourself or place them on a program like iBooks or a thumb drive so you have an offline record in case you lose your hard copies.
A Wi-Fi enabled phone can be your best friend in an unfamiliar place. There are websites and apps that can help you find the best local cuisine, entertainment, attractions and shopping. Review sites for traveling like Yelp and Trip Advisor have tons of reviews for all types of businesses around the world. The reviews on these sites are easy to read and often used by other travel sites to show the quality of a hotel or restaurant. Reviews from locals often provide gems about the best dishes and times to visit local restaurants.
If you use an online travel site to book your reservations, download the app from that service. These apps are typically free and often provide a discount or promo codes to save money for future travel. If you download an app from a travel site, sign up for travel alerts that notify you when prices for hotels or flights are at their lowest.
A common folly of the techy traveler is forgetting a wall charger or adapter. If you have a USB charger, most hotel TVs have a USB plugin that you can use for charging. Portable outlet splitters are also a handy tool to carry if you use a lot of devices and don't want to wait for the charging stations at the airport.
Traveling light is easy with a little bit of planning and honesty about what you actually need to bring. To stretch your travel dollar to the limit, there are plenty of creative ways to fit more than a week's worth of luggage onto a small carry-on bag. By eliminating the need for checked bags, you can save up to $75 for fun things on your vacation. So even if you can't bring your entire wardrobe, there's no reason you can't travel comfortably on a budget.