7 Tips to Packing for a Long Trip

packing tips, travel, how to pack
I leave for Sweden tomorrow, and so you may not hear from me until Thursday, since it is going to be an epic gong show trying to get a two year old, a five month old, and two month’s worth of luggage across the Atlantic (that includes a two hour car ride, a ten hour flight, a two hour layover, a one hour flight, and a three hour drive.) Cue massive sigh here.

Anyway, I consider myself fairly good at packing, because I used to travel a lot, so I am sharing some tips. (And by the way, I do not consider myself an expert at packing for two small children, so I am not sure these tips will really translate. Check back with me in two months.)

1. Lists, lists, lists, lists, lists. I LOVE LISTS. And making a detailed one of the things you need, starting a week or two before your trip, means you are far less likely to forget something. I start a list on my phone, and every time I think of somethign I might need, I write it down. This also means packing can go a lot quicker, because you aren’t scrambling around thinking “what else do I need?” you are purposefully gathering the things you know you need, and putting them into a suitcase.

packing tips, travel, how to pack

2. Document. Keep a list, or photograph, the content of your suitcase. Why? Because if it gets lost, this will help with your insurance. Also, make sure to have digital copies of your passports and any other important documents, stored somewhere you can access if you lose important things (for example, in your email.)

3. Pack and then get rid. Once you’ve figured out how many clothes and shoes you need, put them aside. Then revisit that pile once or twice before you leave, there is a really, really good chance you will be able to get rid of a bunch of things. Packing light makes traveling so much easier and more pleasurable, don’t drag a bunch of crap on a long haul flight, only to find out you don’t need it. (My mentor, Ryan Nicodemus, suggested re-visiting the 20/20 theory when packing – it makes a lot of sense for any of those items you decide to pack “just in case.”)

packing tips, travel, how to pack

4. Make sure everything has its purpose. I struggled to pack for Sweden because I knew I would not need much for the weeks (probably 85% of my trip) that I will be spending at the country house. I could probably get away with ten items of clothing and underwear and be fine. However, I will need outfits for my jaunts, to Copenhagen, Stockholm, and to a rock festival. I only packed one pair of heels and every single item that wasn’t lay-around-the-summer-house clothing, was carefully considered. Will this crease if I pack it into a small bag? Can I wear this with several outfits? Will this be chic enough for a 5 star hotel in Stockholm but cool enough to wear to a rock bar? Everything should have a purpose, not be a duplicate of something else (except underwear) and be very, very versatile.

5. Contain. Always imagine the worst when packing. Your shampoo is going to leak all over your fur coat. Your leather handbag will get crushed. Your shoes will get bent out of shape. So try and prevent these things by putting your toiletries in leak proof bags, your leather in dust bags, and pack everything nicely so that if it gets jostled, things will stay in their place. Louis Vuitton has a few good tips for this. Another good tip, if you are traveling with several suitcases, is to spread your things around the bags. Imagine if one bag got lost? Would your husband be walking around naked while you and the kids had twenty outfits to choose from? Not a good idea. Spread things out over a few bags.

packing tips, travel, how to pack

6. Tissue paper and rolling DOES work. I feel really anal when I am packing with tissue paper in between my clothes, but if I am doing a trip with items that I absolutely do not want crushed (for example, tailored jackets) then I use tissue paper. For the items that I don’t mind creasing, rolling is the best way to go, it means the clothes take up a lot less room. And of course, as mentioned in point 5, use dust bags. I use them for more than just shoes and bags, I also put swimwear, underwear, and socks in separate dustbags. Not only does it tidy up the content of your case, but it also means if there is a massive malfunction and all your belongings go flying, you’ll be spared the embarrassment of your panties being on the airport floor.

7. All important things go into carry on. My husband was not happy the time he moved from London to Vancouver (I was already here) and he travelled with 100 kilos of luggage, and I didn’t want to pick him up at the airport because there was a Motörhead concert on that night (don’t worry, he ended up changing his flight so I could go to Motörhead and he could get a ride from the airport.) Anyway, I forced him to carry four pairs of rare, valuable Finsk shoes in his carry on because I was scared they might get lost. Needless to say, he wasn’t impressed. Your carry on should include all valuable and irreplaceable items. If you have weight restrictions, wear the items of put them in your pockets. I once travelled on a crappy airline with ten kilos of jewelry in my pockets because they only allowed five kilos of hand luggage. Here’s a quick checklist of some of the things you might want to include in your hand luggage.

  • Passports (duh.)
  • Money
  • Computer/camera/ipad and chargers
  • Phone and charger
  • Contact lenses
  • Glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Rare or valuable jewelry
  • Medication
  • Expensive beauty products (if they are 100ml or less)

This list is totally not exhaustive, do you have any packing tips to share?

All the beautiful luggage in this blog post is from Alex Folzi, a Vancouver-based company that you can buy on Retailpond.