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How to Pack Smart for a Trip

Ah, sweet, sweet freedom. Nothing’s better than getting away for a week to explore the vast wonders of the world! Of course, a dream vacation can be ruined in an instant if you don’t pack correctly.

 Tips for traveling, what to take, what not to take. Packing your suitcase.

Thankfully, we're here to help you avoid some common mistakes. Check out these handy tips for making your vacation a paradise: 

Pack beforehand

And by beforehand, we’re not talking about noon when your flight leaves at 7:00 p.m. The stress of travel will scramble your brain and make packing sensibly an impossible task, which is how you’ll end up wandering around Madrid in July wearing three-day-old underwear and a sweater.

Related: Don't Fall for These Three Sleep Myths

Number and group your outfits

If you’re going on a five-day vacation, you’ll need to plan for at least five days’ worth of clothes. Lay them all out on your bed (including corresponding shoes) and then, group your outfits as you pack so you don’t have to dig through your suitcase to get to the clothes you’ll need on your first day. If it makes things easier, try the rolling method of packing to keep things coordinated.

Don’t bring new shoes

It’s a dangerous thing to bring untested shoes on a vacation. That’s how you’ll wind up limping on the streets of New York or nursing giant blisters in a hotel room. Even if the shoes felt comfortable in the store, you don’t know how they’ll wear after a few dozen miles, so bring comfortable shoes that you've broke in.   


Prepare for the worst

You may find yourself without resources when you need them, and that can be scary in a foreign country (or even just in an unfamiliar area). Bring a small pouch with bandages, travel-sized packets of pills (ibuprofen, stomach meds, etc.), and backups of contacts/glasses, so you don’t have to find a store.    

Bring laundry detergent

There are theories about why washers/dryers are so impossible to find on vacation, but we’ll spare you. Bring along a baggie filled with laundry detergent so you can wash your clothes as needed. Then, hang them up in your hotel room near the air conditioner, vent, or window so they’ll be dry by morning. This is how professional travelers get away with packing lightly. 

Don’t be a victim

Trust us, you look like a tourist. That can be a target to thieves, so keep your passport and valuables safe, and if you’re going to use a handbag, buy an anti-theft bag. A common tactic is to simply cut the purse straps and run away with it; anti-theft bags have steel in the straps and can’t be cut easily.

Don’t bring anything you can’t replace

Traveling involves a bit of roughing it, and in this case, we strongly suggest you leave your wedding ring, expensive watch, and even your nice earrings behind. Don’t want to travel without your wedding ring? Get an exact copy made for less; if it’s lost, you’re only out a few hundred dollars instead of a million memories.

Related: Smart Snacking While Traveling: Four Tips to Make Your Vacation Traveling Tasty

The best trick is to expect the unexpected. Definitely plan, but also have contingency plans for when things don’t work out. Hotels get overbooked, plans get delayed, and maps get misread—just know that a stellar vacation is about rolling with the punches and adjusting accordingly.

Be sure to check out other healthy living articles.

SelectHealth may link to other websites for your convenience. SelectHealth does not expressly or implicitly recommend or endorse the views, opinions, specific services, or products referenced at other websites linked to the SelectHealth site, unless explicitly stated.

The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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Post Author

Jennifer Diffley
Jennifer Diffley is a SLC resident. She is a senior copywriter and has her MFA in creative writing from NYU. Jennifer is committed to health, but has an unhealthy fascination with outrageous shoes.