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15 packing tips that will make your travel amazing

by Vidya Sury November 2, 2019 19 comments
15 packing tips that will make your travel amazing b

Enjoy travel? Here are 15 packing tips to make your travel amazingly memorable.

This post is the result of a promise I made my friend—to help her pack for her upcoming trip to Manila. And a little envy. Last week when she told me she had just made her flight booking for a week-long trip with her gal pals, I couldn’t help feeling a tiny bit jealous. She was excited, of course. In the twenty years I’ve known her, I’ve always been her “packer” as she fondly calls me and also, she takes my packing tips seriously!

I cannot stop laughing at some of my own travel memories—especially the ones related to packing for my own journeys. I’ve come all the way from being an over-packer who constantly thought “what if…” to being a minimalist—something I never ever thought possible!

Flashback to that time when I ran to catch my train, dragging my suitcase, which suddenly decided to burst open, spilling out my favorite yellow dress along with a whole lot of unmentionables on the dirty platform—to another trip where I packed too many clothes that I never got around to wearing—to yet another trip where I almost missed my connecting flight because I was carrying checked in luggage for a trip that could have easily been managed with a carry-on!

The list is embarrassingly endless.

But yes, lessons learned the hard way are the best, right? Over the years, I’ve become a wiser traveler and packer. Marie Kondo would approve.

A few years ago, when I traveled to Shanghai,, the only thing that made my trip absolutely amazing was my packing. I took only carry-on luggage. What a smart move! I had everything I needed. And was able to make all my flights ONLY because I was smart enough not to take check-in luggage.

Now, I have nothing against check-in luggage. I know sometimes there’s just no option to avoid it. But in my experience, most of the time, we can do without it by packing smart. I believe that it is easy to travel with a backpack easily for up to a week, and even a fortnight when you are really clever with what you carry in it.

Also, right now my friend is really excited about traveling Philippine Airlines for the first time, and the way it looks, she might want to carry her entire house with her. I simply had to do the iron-hand-velvet-glove routine on her.

So, without further ado, let’s get right down to the packing tips, shall we?

15 packing tips that will make your travel amazing b


15 packing tips to travel light and make your travel amazing

1. Follow the ground rule

Pack only what you can carry yourself. You don’t want to depend on someone for help to transport your stuff.

2. Remember

Keep in mind the following:

  • Your destination.
  • The climate there.
  • The duration of your trip.
  • Your itinerary.
  • Activities planned.

3. Choose the right bag

Let’s start by choosing the right bag. Problem is, we tend to fill whatever space we have. Think: how long is your trip? How are you traveling? Will you need a daypack? One bag and handsfree or two bags? Me, I worship my backpack. It is sturdy, easy for me to carry, can easily take a week’s worth of essentials and most important – keeps my hands free. I also carry a fanny pack and/or sling bag for my phone, cash, cards, documents and power bank. For longer trips, I take a small carry-on that can go with me as cabin luggage.

15 packing tips backpack

4. Make a packing list

Next, make a packing list of what you need. I have a standard packing list of essentials I use as a checklist. During my corporate days, when I traveled on business, I always had a bag packed and ready so I didn’t run around putting things together at the last minute. Now, I am a frequent traveler and continue the habit.

What to put on your list?

This could be personal to you. But here are the questions to ask before the item goes into your bag:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Is it lightweight?
  • Can it multitask?
  • Will it occupy big space?

Sort accordingly. Remember no “just in case” items. On your list, only add what you “must have” and absolutely cannot do without.

5. Gather everything you want to pack

Get everything together. Then, eliminate mercilessly. Just pack what you’d normally wear on a normal day when you are at home. This will probably cover most situations for the duration of your travel. If absolutely necessary, you can buy what you need. Truth is, a majority of our what-if situations are just imaginary. So—pack light. Be flexible. Tackle things as they happen. More fun that way.

6. How much to pack?

A good ground rule is: always pack for one week. Easier to manage. Yes, you will have laundry to do if you are traveling for longer, so pick clothes accordingly.  It’s easy to wash socks/t-shirts/underwear. Choose materials that drip dry quickly. Also, it costs way less to do laundry than pack a check in bag.

7. Packing tips for clothes

Choose materials that pack small and dry quickly. If you use jeans, wear them. Don’t pack them. They are heavy and hog space. Wear your shoes. If you have to pack extra footwear, choose wisely.

15 packing tips carryon

8. Cold climate?

What if you are traveling to a cold climate? Think layers rather than big bulky items. Think thermal tops, light woolen shirts and fleece jackets that you can take off when the weather gets warmer. Thin layers are more flexible and take up less space. In fact, an easy rule to follow is: if it is bulky, wear it. If you need two pairs of footwear such as boots and flats, wear the boots, pack the flats.

9. Avoid packing full outfits

Pack pieces that can be mixed and matched. I usually wear jeans which go with almost any top. and pack at least three tops + a pair of light pants or skirt to mix and match.

10. Packing toiletries

Pack travel-sized and in Ziplock bags to avoid leaking. Pack a loofah. Makes your soap last ten times longer.  I use a hair and body wash that does away with packing soap, shampoo separately. Also, follow the airline’s rules for liquids or they’ll just throw your stuff out. If your travel is longish, buy what you need at your destination.

11. Don’t forget these

Hand sanitizer, water bottle, hygiene products (skip the tampons and sanitary napkins. Go green and switch to the cup.)

12. Avoid over-packing

It is just more stuff to worry about. Heavy luggage is annoying not just for you, but for others as well. You are likely to end up paying extra for overweight bags while stuck with the hassle of wasting time checking in and waiting for your luggage to arrive.

15 packing tips to make your travel amazing

13. Don’t pack these

Which brings us to one of our most important packing tips. What should you skip packing?

  • Thick paperback books. Switch to digital versions for your travel.
  • Bulky shoes that hog space.
  • Stuff your hotel will provide anyway.
  • Gadgets you don’t need. Only pack those that multitask. For example, your smartphone that doubles up as a camera and has internet. Think twice before packing your laptop.
  • Expensive jewelry. Heartbreaking to lose it.

14. Skip valuables in checked in baggage

Avoid packing your expensive valuables in checked in luggage. Always carry stuff you cannot afford to lose in your carry-on.

15. Make it easy to move around

Revisiting the first of our packing tips, remember the ground rule. Traveling with only a backpack and carry-on luggage somehow makes the trip easier as I will draw less attention to myself. It also makes it easier to visit the rest room. Seriously! Try maneuvering a suitcase into a cramped stall! It also makes it easier to fit into a luggage locker. Most of all, there’s a sense of confidence as I won’t have to depend on someone for help. And let’s face it—it feels good when people ask, “where is your suitcase?” and I smile and say this is all I am carrying. More freedom to focus on the travel itself than juggle extra luggage.

Travel should be about enjoying the experience, seeing the sights, the food and the people.  Also, more exciting to explore the market and shop local when you need something, right?

Enjoy travel. 15 packing tips to travel light


  • You really don’t need as much as you think you will.
  • Remember, before you pack:
    • Your destination.
    • The climate there.
    • The duration of your trip.
    • Your itinerary.
    • Activities planned.Keep in mind the following:
  • Pack no more than backpack and if you cannot avoid it, a carry-on.
  • Choose the right bag.
  • Make a packing list.
  • Avoid over-packing.
  • Don’t pack what you don’t need.
  • No matter how long your trip – pack a week of essentials.
  • Always dress in layers.
  • If it is bulky, don’t pack it-wear it.
  • Avoid packing valuables in your checked-in baggage.
  • Keep it simple – pack pieces, not full outfits so you can mix and match.
  • Before flying, double check the airline’s rules about liquids, carry-on luggage size and weight.

What would you add to these packing tips for traveling light?

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Tajawal. All opinions are mine.

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How do we know November 3, 2019 at 1:50 am

Great list Vidya! And amazing if you are able to travel without check in.

Shilpa Garg November 4, 2019 at 10:06 pm

Aah! How we learn from our misadventures and experiences. I used to carry stuff that could last for another trip, but then some mishaps later, I learnt to pack well. A leaky conditioner bottle has made me extra cautious and I use ziploc bags for all toiletries.
These are some amazing tips, Vidya. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Shilpa Garg recently posted…5 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 20 Years Ago #WordsMatter

Amy Gougler November 3, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I love this list! Extra helpful when packing for a trip overseas. Making a list is always key for me or I will definitely overpack!
Amy Gougler recently posted…Hallo-Workout: Trick or Treat?

Felicia Austin November 4, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Wow Vidya these are some awesome tips! I wish I would have read this years ago lol. I always thought you could only have a backpack and a purse. I didn’t know you could have a backpack and a carry on! Plus a shoulder strap purse or fanny pack. I usually have a purse and a backpack. Now I will be carrying a carry on plus backpack and a fanny pack or purse. I hope I read that right and I’m not mixing it up lol.

Surbhi Prapanna November 5, 2019 at 12:20 am

Loved your post, it is super informative and you had explained all points very well with proper details. I usually follow most of the points, you had mentioned. recently, I had bought 6 pack travel organizer from amazon and I am finding it super useful in easy packaging for travel. will check other items too, looking really interesting to me.

Leana Lourens November 5, 2019 at 11:26 am

Hi Vidya. I’m reading your article at the perfect time. We will be going on holiday in December and will need to pack for 2 weeks. Thank you for this refresher it helped a lot 😁

Julie November 5, 2019 at 11:38 am

I always tend to over pack but certainly have my list that I work from. The extra tips really helped and I had not even thought of many of them before

Rajlakshmi November 5, 2019 at 3:09 pm

These are wonderful tips Vidya. I learnt About dressing up in layers before my trip to Tasmania. It was a life saver. Something I still go by. Saves so much of packing hassles. I am not a very good packer, so I always read articles like yours before packing. I like getting tips on folding clothes too. People can be really innovative with that.
Rajlakshmi recently posted…The day my brain turned into a cabbage

Lynne Huysamen November 6, 2019 at 1:39 pm

These are fantastic tips Vidya and usually I am a great packer but I have found it tough when I pack with my daughter – she gets a lot of traits from my mother in law and wants to take everything with her! When I went away overnight with my son recently it was amazing – all our things fitted into one tiny bag and off we went. I went in my jeans and packed another top and he brought a tshirt and shorts, along with our pjs and toiletries we were done!
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minakshi Sharma November 6, 2019 at 2:37 pm

I am glad to read this!!! Travelling is fun but sometimes all this annoying stuff makes our journey quite awful sometimes. I am sure this post is helpful for all such frequent travellers. Thanks for sharing!!!
minakshi Sharma recently posted…Things to Keep in Mind while Traveling to Mountains | Tips for mountain trails hiking | trekking

Fun With Puzzles November 8, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Nice Article. One add-on for me after reading this article is that I can avoid “just in case” things and these can be bought if required :).
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Debbie D. November 9, 2019 at 12:20 am

If only I could follow this advice! 😳 Excellent tips, Vidya! 👌 Unfortunately, taking stuff “just in case” is a habit I can’t seem to break. (The old dog, new tricks issue. 😛 ) I’ve yet to master long trips with only carry-on luggage (and have never used a backpack – definitely something to consider), but it certainly would make travelling a lot easier.
Debbie D. recently posted…BLUE | CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE #CFFC #WW

Stella Wilson May 25, 2020 at 12:23 pm

This blog is amazing. I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing these great travel tips 🙂

Pawan Ranta July 17, 2020 at 2:51 pm

The tips are great! I always followed the thumb rule – travel light, travel often. This is the lesson I learnt — the hard way 🙂 — while trekking/hiking the Himalayan terrains.
Pawan Ranta recently posted…If having time would be the answer to having a wonderful life.

elly camron July 16, 2021 at 9:25 am

This content is very helpful for me. Thanks for sharing

Alexandros August 3, 2021 at 11:19 am

Fantastic tips for travelers. jeans are perfect with every top. Always carry skin care essentials with you.

Bhutan Tour Agent August 26, 2021 at 6:02 pm

Our trip of a life time has turned into a new found passion of ours and has given us many new experiences that we’d never of had if we didn’t go travelling.

Alex July 14, 2022 at 9:28 am

I am not good in packing things. but one thing i can tell that rolling each cloth will take more space. Just fold them and pile one on another is nice idea.

Austin A. McCary June 2, 2023 at 3:13 pm

These packing tips are fantastic! I used to be an over-packer, but after reading this article, I’ve completely changed my approach. Packing light has made my travels so much easier and enjoyable. I love the idea of creating a packing list and eliminating unnecessary items. Thank you for sharing these valuable tips!


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